Peace Corps Timeline

When I researched applying for the Peace Corps I stumbled upon many forums and posts detailing applicants’ timelines. Peace Corps has been notorious for its lengthy application process, where wannabe volunteers wait months if not a year or longer before getting an offer to serve. In 2015 Peace Corps modernized itself and created a shorter application process (the initial part can be completed in just an hour!) and the organization hit a 40-year record in number of applicants. Although some applicants were being processed much faster, there is still a wide range of wait times, and the timeline remains ever popular in the volunteer hopefuls. My timeline went as follows:

Dec 23rd 2015: Click. My application is sent. Not long after I get a confirmation of receipt and another email telling me to fill out a personality-style test and an initial Health History Form. I complete and submit both the next day. It’s the holiday season and the application deadline for Philippines 2016 was January 1st, I don’t expect to hear anything until after that.

Jan 4th 2016: I receive an email that I am Under Consideration for the Coastal Resource Management program in the Philippines! This was my first choice placement and though I have an idea, I’m not even sure what ‘Under Consideration’ really means in the scheme of Peace Corps terminology so I do some frantic Googling. It’s a good sign, but pretty general… at least I am being considered!

Jan 5th: I have an interview! I have an interview! It suddenly feels very real. The Peace Corps is interested in me… I could be living in the Philippines in 6 months. Oh. My. Gosh. My two references were contacted and asked to submit their forms within 5 days.

Jan 11th: It’s the Monday after my Under Consideration email and it’s time for my interview. It’s a weird hour with the time difference between Israel (where I am) and DC (the PC Office and my interviewer). I’m extremely nervous; I’ve never had a Skype video interview before and my internet is a bit spotty. I get through the whole thing fine and the internet cuts out during some of my last questions. It takes a while to get back on but I had an email from my interviewer saying that it was great to chat but no decision could be made until they receive my other reference which was MIA! I spend the next few hours hunting down my referrer in Florida before finally getting a positive connection, she promised the reference would go out as soon as we hung up. I said goodbye and breathed a sigh of relief. Okay, it was out of my hands.

I went to bed that night already jittery and anxious… my ‘know by’ date was March 1st, a little less than 2 months away before I would have an answer from the PC either way. Would I have to wait that long? Could I survive waiting that long? I’m notoriously not a patient person. I texted my best friend who told me to be patient, that it would happen like it needed to, med school took her a few years of trying and that whatever happened I would be okay. I took her words to heart and went to sleep peacefully.

Jan 12th: I woke up at 6am and fumbled for my phone in the dark; I had a funny feeling. I tapped my email open and there it was: an invitation to serve in the Peace Corps! I couldn’t believe it. My life changed in a moment and I accepted the offer within a couple of hours.

Jan 22nd: I fly back to the US for a few months to begin the rigorous legal and medical clearance process: dental exams, vaccinations, and more doctor’s visits than I’ve had in the past 10 years. I had all my forms submitted by the beginning of February.

Mar 18th: I am medically and legally cleared! Now what?!

Jun 4th: We get our staging information for Los Angeles in less than a month’s time! I call Peace Corps travel agency and they book me a flight to LA.

July 1st: I’m in Los Angeles meeting the other 72 Peace Corps Philippines Trainees of Batch 275 at our official staging!

July 3rd: After nearly 30 hours of travel, we arrive at our Initial Orientation site. 10 days of orientation and 2.5 months of Pre-Service Training begins!

July 17th: I head off to Bataan, Morong for my two months of Community Based Training. I meet my first Filipino host family and begin language and technical training.

Aug 22nd: Announcement of permanent sites, until now none of us trainees knew where we were going! In the Philippines volunteers can often be quite remote, not so much due to geography but poor transportation and the traversing of several islands and bodies of water to get to others! I was given a town on the island of Bohol, which I knew nothing about beforehand, but was pleased to hear that I would have a handful of other volunteers as site mates!

Sept 14th: Swearing-in. I take an official oath (just like the president!) and can finally call myself a Peace Corps Volunteer.

Sept 15th: Travel to my permanent site: the lovely island of Bohol! Follow the rest of the adventure back at the homepage.