The Peace Corps Application

I am officially five days out from staging for the next 27 months as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Namibia. It’s coming so quickly!

Throughout the past couple of months as I have been preparing, I have been asked a lot about the process of applying to the Peace Corps, as well as things I’ve had to do since being accepted.

Before I began the application process, I met with a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) that was serving as a recruiter at a local university. We emailed several times and met once in person to discuss the best program options for me.

I was interested in Youth in Development, however after talking to the recruiter I decided to also apply for programs in Education. Education and Youth in Development are very similar programs, so it was not much of a stretch at all.

*I definitely recommend speaking with a recruiter and/or RPCV before beginning the application process because they have a great insight to the programs (they were there!) and they can also help when it comes to writing essays and compiling an appropriate resume/CV.

For the actual application I had to write two 500-word essays. The first asked how I was planning to overcome the challenges of the Peace Corps, since it is very physically and mentally demanding. This essay was said to assess “professionalism and maturity”, which are both necessary qualities of volunteers. The second essay asked for a description of an experience in which I had to adapt to a different culture than what I am used to, which is also a big factor of being a Peace Corps Volunteer.

I also had to rank my top three choices for program and placement. While an applicant may not be placed within their top three, the Peace Corps does take these decisions into account. Education in Namibia was my second choice, so I am thrilled.

The application was due January 1, and I submitted everything on December 28.

Around a week after I submitted my application I was told that I was being considered for Namibia. I then had to submit some basic medical and legal information. This included my current medications.

In early February I got accepted for the interview stage and scheduled my interview for around a week later. During the interview I was asked questions to evaluate my motivation and commitment, productive competence, maturity, social sensitivity, and cultural awareness as well as other factors such as alcohol and drug use, diet, and if I had experienced any major life experiences within the past year which included any big moves and if I was currently in a romantic relationship.

The interviewer told me that I would hear the final decision by beginning of March, however I got my results five days later with an email stating that I had been invited to serve as a Secondary Education Volunteer in Namibia.

Then came all of the work on my part.

I had several things to do: medical tasks (physical exam, eye exam, dental exam, shots, yellow fever vaccine, mental health evaluation, etc.) and legal tasks (finger printing and allowing a background investigation). I also had several tasks on the New Volunteer Portal, which consisted of a lot of reading about what to expect once I head overseas.

Once I got all of these tasks done I had to wait around 2-3 months for all of my clearances. There was one slip up in the medical clearance process, but everything worked out. I was cleared medically in early June. The legal clearance took longer and I received that on August 1.

While the application process was time consuming and at times stressful, it was all very worth it to be able to do what I am about to do. To anyone interested in applying, I hope this helps!

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