A Change of Strategy

Over the last few weeks I’ve had to figure out a new path forward to the Peace Corps. I know it’s something I still want to do. Yes, I was a little disappointed when I learned of the news. And no, I won’t be able to wait on them forever. But not getting nominated the first time isn’t going to stop me.

So here’s where I’ve been:
After the initial letdown, I began searching for some of the skills that would make me more marketable.
-Spanish seemed out of the question since it required a 202 level class. That would be well over a year of classes, or a year of condensed classes (no thanks). I barely learned elementary German over 4 years…better look somewhere else.
-French was my best option. I began looking for classes online in the local community, both through universities and adult-education centers. While Forest Park CC had a nice adult learning course, I would need to take the actual 101 course. There was one evening offering, but no one had signed up for the class. Plus, I still wouldn’t be able to meet the 102 requirement by August. I didn’t find any 101/102 condensed classes. I was quite bummed that French, the best option, didn’t seem to be working out.

Then last week I had a follow-up call with the PC Recruiter about Community Services programs. While rejecting me the first time, she sounded very willing to put my name in the CS pile, even though I would be a long shot (CS nominates a bit later in the quarter for some reason). But when I talked to her last week, she was not going to even consider me for nomination because there were so few spots. That made me a little mad. If I’m not qualified, that’s one thing. But don’t withdraw my application just because the opening is competitive. I politely requested she add my name in, and she quickly agreed. CS is a more general category, so it is even harder to get. I am supposed to get the (bad) news today or tomorrow.

Anyway, the real fruit of that conversation was the ESL program. Teaching English is the PC’s bread and butter operation. They have open spots right now. She said she’d nominate me right now if I met the requirement. The requirement is 3 months/30 hours of ESL teaching to people 12 and older. I quickly went to work contacting the International Institute of St. Louis. I had heard of IISL from SLU’s Service Leadership Certificate Program. While I had never really seen myself teaching English, I figure that anything I do in the Peace Corps will be so far out of my comfort zone, I might as well try to go for it.

One issue I brought up on the phone was that I wouldn’t be able to complete the 3 month requirement before the August nomination. The recruiter gave a startled reaction and then realized that August was a mere 2.5 months away. She said maybe they would be able to bend the rules if I got the 30 hours. Hmmm….I”ll take that as “get the 30 hours and then we’ll maybe nominate you a little bit late.” It’s the best shot I’ve got, so I gotta go for it!

I hurried to fill out the application, contacted my Service Leadership Certificate Program director for a form of recommendation, and mailed off my application fee to the International Institute. Thankfully, the director promptly replied. Now, I’m just waiting on IISL to process the application. I hope to get started next week, but they only have a few orientation sessions during the summer. If I can’t get oriented before mid/late June, getting the 30 hours will become a larger challenge.

Oh, what a journey!


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