Archive for March, 2009


March 31, 2009

I had my interview last Monday. It went well. Thanks to some internet research, I had a good grasp on the questions that would be asked. I didn’t prepare my answers ahead of time as in depth as I could have, but I still did fine. I wore my suit to the interview (hey, my parents didn’t spend $400 on that thing for nothing…I’m going to wear it damnit), which got a “wow!” reaction from the recruiter. Like you, the stereotypical Peace Corps volunteer I create in my head is some girl in a hippie dress, or a guy with a big beard and a t-shirt that looks like his roommate does pull-ups on the collar. So I guess the suit might be a bit odd for PC, but I want this thing. I’m not going to risk screwing it up under-dressing.

The next step for me is to find a service site. I hope to find something downtown so I can walk. That is my task this week. I hope to start volunteering Saturday, as AT&T has a potential work stoppage coming up. It would be nice to let the recruiters know I have started volunteering before I possibly get shipped off to Oklahoma for who knows how long.

One slight complaint: I understand why they want me to have recent volunteer experience (even though my last service was less than a year ago). However, I’m not sure the PC values my year of work experience as much as I do. I think if I were unemployed, yet volunteering 15 or 20 hours a week since graduation, that would be more highly valued. This complaint truly is minor, but I figured since this blog is mine, I can say what I want. Part of what I’m trying to convey here is my honest experience with the PC, and that includes times where I don’t agree 100%. Nonetheless, asking me to volunteer a bit is hardly out of line. In fact, I have been thinking a lot that I should be volunteering right now, so this kick in the pants is what I needed.

Chihuly at the Desert Botanical Garden

Chihuly at the Desert Botanical Garden

After the interview I headed off to Arizona with my mom to see my sister graduate from Paul Mitchell school. I am proud of her! Plus, she gave me a rockin’ hair cut. It was cool to finally see her place and her school. We went out there as a family last spring for her to check out the schools. I can’t believe it’s already been a year. I also can’t believe how much has changed in a year. I’ve gone from full time student to full time employee. My sister is in Phoenix instead of Decatur. Just two of many changes!

Phoenix was good, but I don’t want to live there ever. The whole city is very spread out. It requires a lot of driving, which is not cool. If you haven’t caught on yet, I don’t enjoy driving much. I am blessed to have a car and the ability to transport quickly, but I would rather live a life that doesn’t require any commutes or interstate traffic jams. SO not cool dude. However, one place worth driving to if you’re ever in Phoenix is Oregano’s. I am in love with this pizza restaurant. I wish I could have taken it back with us to STL on Southwest.

The best part of the trip was climbing up a big hill/tiny mountain in the desert with my sister. Being able to turn around and look out across the valley to the distant mountain ranges was a very cool perspective. It makes you realize how far you’ve gone, just in one day. It also shows that sometimes the journey is great, but so is taking a moment to soak it in and look at where you’ve been. As a reflective guy, I hope to be looking back in 3 years on an incredible Peace Corps experience, marinating in the memories and personal growth!


Searching for my Fingerprints

March 10, 2009

fingerprint3Hello again! I write today with a weight lifted from my mind. Today I mailed off the second half of my application. This packet included all sorts of juicy information, including skill addenda, official transcripts, fingerprints, and more. I received the packet around February 25th. The PC gatekeeper suggested I get it in before March 20th to remain competitive for the next round of exports. So, it took me a couple weeks to get everything together. One of the main hangups for me was the whole fingerprint thing.

You see, I was involved in an industrial-strength sanding incident when I was 18, which completely erased my fingerprints. The legend is that this accident is the reason for my freakishly soft “man” hands. And I used the term man lightly!

Seriously, I just had a bit of difficulty finding a time and location to get the prints done. One day after work I moseyed on over to the downtown STLPD. As if to fulfill all my stereotypes, from behind a large desk, a small man with gray hair, glasses, and a well-kept gray moustache asked what I needed. “Fingerprints? We only do those from 8:00-3:30 on Tuesdays and Thursdays,” he responded. It was 4:30. I decided I didn’t want to quit my job to get fingerprints done, so I resorted to plan B.

The second place on my list, a mysterious establishment named merely Special Services, was convenient enough with its downtown location. However, they wanted $30 for the service. After converting that to Jr. Roast Beefs ($30 = slightly more than 25 Jr. Roast Beefs), the decision was simple.

Finally I landed upon the St. Louis County PD. Located in Clayton, I had to navigate rush hour traffic, find a parking spot, and improvise on outdated website instructions only to slip in right before the office closed. Whew! For a thrifty $6, I got all the fingerprints a guy could ever want. The best part was the grainy orange pump soap they had to get the ink off. I think that stuff could remove a tattoo! I should try it on the large mole on my arm…

Now that I’ve grossed you out, I will let you go. I am hoping to get an interview with the regional PC person at WashU before March is up!

Casting my Line

March 3, 2009

Hello reader! Looking back, it’s been almost 2 months since I’ve started this thing. That really is incredible to me. Just another great example of how quickly life can pass us by! And because of that, also a great example of why I need to join the Peace Corps to go somewhere new, do something different, and make an impact.

So, what’s been happening lately? Well, last week I traveled to Oklahoma City for work. It was a short two day stint. It was also my first work-related travel. I have to say, I enjoyed eating out with my per diem! But the god of my bowels was unappreciative of the 5 or so straight meals of eating out. You see, my body has adjusted to an outrageous diet rich in pasta. I eat pasta at least 4 nights a week. And I eat large amounts of the pasta. So, anything non-pasta related, in succession (such as Rudy’s – the gas station BBQ place we ate at both nights), can wreak havoc.

Oh, right. This blog is supposed to be Peace Corps stuff. I read a great blog last night that had a cool timeline of PC application stuff. So, let me capture a few dates. On Feb. 23, my final reference was submitted. That afternoon, I received an e-mail from a Chicago recruitment officer. I believe this e-mail was in response to me submitting my initial application materials back on Feb. 10, not the submission of the last reference letter. The e-mail told me to expect a packet soon, and to check with my lenders about deferring student loans (although I already sent in a sheet about this issue…).

Then, I received said packet on Friday, Feb. 27. I am in the process of gathering fingerprints and transcripts. I already filled out the included skills addenda for some possible service areas, including Business Advising and Info. & Comm. Tech. The e-mail said the packet needed to be returned by March 20 to keep me “as competitive as possible for the next round of selections.” Yes ma’am!

In other news, I can’t help but constantly think about PC. I wonder what it will be like. I wonder if I will really be able to handle it (pretty sure, and if not, you can always cry, right?). Right now, my 3 biggest concerns:

1. Adapting to a foreign culture for 2 years

2. Lacking the people and amenities of my own culture

3. The Language

Of course, these are also kind of some of the biggest reasons I want to go. No, I don’t want to get away from the people I am close to. But I do want to see if I can challenge myself and grow without them in close proximity.

More to come…cheers!