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eye on the prize

maskmaster in peacecorpsfolks

I have a million questions, so I'll try to fit them all in one post. If you an answer one or all of them, that'd be great.

How bad is it to have criminal charges on your record (both misdemeanors, one DUI and one petty larceny charge, both years and years ago)?

Is there any way to download a paper copy of the application? Or see the application in its entirety? I wouldn't mind applying online, but from what I can tell, it takes you step by step and there's no way to see the whole thing so you know what you're going to be asked.

Of those of you who have volunteered, or are currently volunteering, how many of you were placed in the region of your choice and how many got sent somewhere else? Where did you request to be placed?

Statistically, does anyone know what percentage of applicants actually get in?

What are the major disqualifiers? I've heard you can't have any debt (i don't) or felonies (I don't). I'm not sure if that's true, I didn't see anything about it on their website, but if you guys can think of anything else.

Comments

1) I don't know much about the criminal charges stuff, or the paperwork associated with it, but people who have had minor incidents in the past do get in. You just need to be upfront about everything. It's when you don't disclose and they find out later that you'll get in trouble for it.

2) Paper copy - just call your recruitment office and ask for one. I imagine they'd be able to email and/or mail you a hard copy. As to the online version - you know you can save it in-progress, you don't actually submit it until everything is filled in. So you can take your time on each section and go back and fix past sections and stuff, right? I just put "filler" info in it the first time I did it so I could read the entire thing, then went back and did it seriously.

3) I have a background in Asian studies (M.A. in Asian History) and had Asia and Pacific Islands as my top regions. That ended up 'not being possible' according to my recruiter and I switched to Middle East and Central Asia. I was nominated for Central Asia and wound up in Eastern Europe. I don't have statistics on it, but from talking to other folks, this sort of thing seems very common.

If you really want to go to a certain area, ask a recruiter about the skills you need to qualify - maybe a year of TEFL experience vs. three months, etc - for positions in that area. And be prepared to really push for it.

If you really really really really want to go to a certain country, you can try, but it'd probably be best to look into a different program that provides aid to that country.

4) I've heard people throw around that 1 in 4 get in, but I've never really believed it nor do I know where that number comes from, because that includes all the people that drop out - it's a long process - or do stupid things. My brother was a recruiter and he said lots of applicants didn't treat the interview process like a real job interview - when talking about traveling, they'd tell him how they smoked weed in Thailand or whatever. Obviously, they didn't get in.

5) No debt? I know plenty of PCVs with student loans and some with credit card debt that are here serving. You just have to show you have a payment plan to deal with it, I think, and submit that to them.

Really, the only thing I'd worry about, I guess, would be the whole medical process. There are some medical conditions that will cause your application to be turned down or on hold until things are resolved. Some conditions will restrict the regions or countries that you can work in and so on and so forth.

Hope that helps :) good luck!
OMG YOU ARE AWESOME! Thank-you so much for your time.
I don't know about any of the rest of it, but I wanted Eastern Europe, and I put that down as where I wanted to go. I told them in the interview that of course I'd serve wherever they put me, but given a choice, that's where I wanted to go. I was nominated for North Africa/Middle East, but I got the invitation for Eastern Europe.


So the nomination isn't the final word.
Agreed. I asked for Africa, and reaaaaally wanted to go to Kenya for the Deaf Education program. I mentioned this in my interview, and pointed out my ASL experience. Response was that Kenya is a very competitive program because the Deaf Ed group is only 6 people a year usually, blah blah. Nomination came back for TEFL in French speaking Africa (because I had 2 years of French in high school, but remember none of it.) I was ok with that, but then when I cleared medical my PO called, said I don't know French (duh) but HEY you know ASL! Yes, thanks. So, invite came for Kenya :)
I've heard that Eastern Europe is the least requested area. Presumably people don't think it's challenging enough. (Hahaha!)

Anyway, I requested Middle East/North Africa and ended up in EE. It's cool.
Ha!

I'm under no such delusion.* I just kep hearing how relevant the stuff in all my classes was to the issues in EE while I was getting my Master's degree, plus I know a little bit from my days as an anthro major in college and I'm really intrigued, plus almost all the PC alums I know did EE or Central Asia, and so many of my professors said I should go to EE and use my powers for good over there, so...

I guess I just felt informed/intrigued enough and it's really the right time, and I'm a bit curious about the region since my grandma on one side came from Poland and my great-grandparents on the other side came from Russia.

I dunno. It just seemed right somehow.

*Besides stories from alum, I've had plenty of friends growing up who were new to America from EE, plus I've done a short bit of excavation in Kazakhstan. I think I have a reasonably good idea what I'm getting myself into, and I know it won't be without challenges.
1. i have a misdemeanor on my record from years ago--and i'm headed to armenia in a month! basically, if you've got a record, you have to write up a statement explaining the charges and situation in detail, and explain that it won't happen again (you can sort of explain what you learned that will prevent you from doing it again). as long as you're honest and open about it, i don't think you'll run into a problem.

3. my degree is in linguistics and german studies, and i would've liked to have been placed in asia, but ultimately i decided that, for me, making sure i was teaching english was more important than making sure i went to any one place in particular (though i feel they did listen to the places i DIDN'T want to go).

5. i've got tens of thousands in student loans. case in point. but yeah--when i was applying, i wrote out a sheet listing all my loans, and listed the ones that could be defered for pc. the ones that couldn't be defered, i figured out how much i would end up paying in the 27 months i'd be gone, and wrote a statement that i was planning on having that amount in an account that both myself and my parents had access to, and that my power of attourney would allow them to pay this non-deferable loan in my stead, using the money i'd saved for that purpose. basically, you just have to show that things will be taken care of while you're gone, and that you're not just trying to "run away" from your responsibilities in the states.
i agree with mbaksuz on the online app. i started mine in like 2004 after i saw a commercial for the peace corps and just submitted it in fall of 2007. you can definitely edit it over time. :) and for things i didn't have an answer for at the time i made up so i could get to other sections and then went back and changed them when i had an answer. just as long as you don't submit false info, it's fine i think to use filler info to play around with the app (pre-submission).

as for the certain country thing, my recruiter was sort of ecstatic when i said that i'd go anywhere just as long as i got to go. he also said that pc was more willing and able to work with program requests than location requests. so something to keep in mind. i requested a health program and was nominated to one right off the bat. he also asked me where i most wanted to go if i had to choose and was kind of pressing about getting an answer, so i do think they take that into consideration. even though i said pacific islands and got africa. :)

and as for the debt it's not that you can't have any it's just you have to explain yourself and well. i turned in a notarized document showing which loans could be deferred and that my parents would pay for anything that came up while i was overseas. i'm not sure about felonies, but so far my experience with pc is be upfront, honest, and have a plan to deal with any issues and they'll work with you.

and as for disqualifiers in general, again i agree with mbaksuz. i think those are mostly not making it past the interview (treat it as a formal job interview, i brought a list of questions to mine and when i whipped it out during the interview, my recruiter was all smiles) and then medical clearance, peace corps has a link telling you what all they can't clear for.

http://www.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=learn.howvol.stepstoapply.medandleg

just click on the pdf for a list of med conditions and it also goes a little into the legal jist.

good luck with the application!! :)

if you haven't already found the peace corps group on yahoo groups, i highly suggest it. it's the peacecorps2 one. i know it has some info on et rates and also an excel sheet that can give you a general idea of where you could go.
I can't find an application on line. If you get a paper one, scan it and put it on line. The FBI check is not that big a deal. It just checks all criminal records. So, if you were convicted, mention it. Most dis qualifiers should be on the paper application. You can also do a freedom of information request at pc web site. It can be done by email. If you get FOIA on dis qualifiers, please put that on line too. It's a big question a lot of people have and the legislation to list it never was passed.
The online application can be found by going to www.peacecorps.gov & clicking on Apply Now on the left of the page.
I'm still trying to get medical clearance, but I thought I'd add this anyway.
On my application I requested Eastern Europe because of my desire to go there someday. My recruiter kept mentioning Francophone Africa during our interview and made it seem as if that's where my nomination would be for because I've taken a lot of French classes. But I left the office with a nomination for Eastern Europe. I think it was because I told her about my undergrad thesis on Ukrainian politics and my desire to go to EE, but I don't really know. And I won't know if I end up in EE until I get my invitation. ayayay
I found a web site with toolkit information. I will be posting mine as soon as it clears me to see the entire application, which requires you to apply first. I've ordered a paper application and will be putting in online. This all may take 4-6 weeks.

http://gmrgrl.wordpress.com/2008/04/25/peace-corps-invitee-toolkit-invitee-timeline/

There used to be laws that you could refuse 1 assignment. I passed on my first one, Africa and took the second offer. Africa is what they always offer because of 'tradition.' They're old, but they also will take PCVs for the sake of taking PCVs. There was a choice of country of service if evacuated or reapplying after finishing the two years, which is required anyway. PCVs want to extend the two years to five years as a maximum, not minimum, with the re apply country of service choice option available without a six month reapply delay and mandatory return to the US. NPCA wants to shorten the two years to get more people to apply with no longer option available. For example, apply with the two year minimum and option for five years and additional two or five years with no reapply delay or mandatory return to the US for six months.

50th poster

August 2014

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