Thursday, December 9, 2010

ridin the waves.

i have completely neglected this blog. now that the semester is winding down i figure i owe everyone an update.

first of all, getting an application status update after being invited=scary. that excited feeling no longer accompanies those 5 a.m. emails. my application status update let me know that i have a dental hold. apparently my dental clearance is only good until march 5th & i'm supposed to leave march 9th (actually the OMS letter said march 8th, but i'm trying not to get too hung up on the discrepancy). so now i am just waiting on obama's health reform to put me back on mommy and daddy's insurance. blue cross blue shield says that will be jan. 1. cutting it close? maybe, but i def. can't afford those dental x-rays on my part-time retail paycheck =)

in other news, i filled out & sent my visa application along with my passport. i never heard whether they got that or not. i probs should put that on my list of things to check on. i read everything included in that blue invitation kit & i also started learning russian. i'm pretty sure that's how the nightmares started. in the latest nightmare i landed in almaty alone with just my sister's kitten. i couldn't find my bags & i was wandering around in the freezing cold. there were people inside stores, but i couldn't go in & ask for directions because i had the cat. i was worried the whole time about mr. bingley (that's our cat) freezing his little white tail off. i finally found my bag, but it was almost completely empty. i went to tell the baggage claim people, but i didn't know how to say anything but cat in russian. [that is actually true. for some reason cat is the only word that is sticking with me. & apples. which is good because i am allergic to apples and kazakhstan is the birthplace of apples.]

so i think all the nightmares attributed to the fact that last week i woke up & couldn't help but think "what the heck are you doing?" i spent the entire week trying to put my finger on what it was that had originally drawn me to PC. i applied for PC when i was in my last semester of college. the plan had been to go after graduation, get back by the time i was 23 & then start doing more grown-up things. i am now 23. my application was put on hold, and then i withdrew it for the master's international program, & now i am 23 and leaving for PC. & when i get back i will be 26 and doing all sorts of 21-23 year old things. one of the major changes for me was coming home and falling in love all over again with my ex-bf. and now i am leaving him for 27 months when i know that if i stayed i would be getting married in the next 27 months instead. that's a big thing that i have admitted to very few people.

so i was feeling very blue about the whole PC thing. i know for a fact that celebrating thanksgiving and realizing it would be last with family for a while played a direct role in my second-guessing. i read & re-read my favorite PC blogs. normally they get me excited, but for some reason it wasn't working. so i decided to go shopping. shopping is my cure-all. i was rummagging through the jewelry at the thrift store while my sister was checking out when i saw this keychain:

anyone who knows me knows that i love all things pink, artsy, & with a hippy flare. i immediately grabbed it & hurried to give it to my sister before she finished checking out. you will never believe what was on the back:

that's right. that there is the kazakhstan flag with kazakhstan written above it. almost instantly i felt like sobbing and laughing. & i have been back on the PC bandwagon since. for those of you that are now questioning my sanity or desire to actually go overseas: 27 months is a loooong time. kazakhstan is coooooold. and the insane thing would be not to think seriously about this decision before i leave my loved ones behind.

on that note... enjoying the high,

Thursday, October 28, 2010

i aspire.

here is my aspiration statement. given the 7-10 day deadline along with a million other things to get done, don't judge too harshly on the grammar/writing. feel free to use this as an example. hopefully it helps explain some of my reasoning behind joining the peace corps & the reasons i believe i will be successful in kazakhstan.

The professional attributes you plan to use, and what aspirations you hope to fulfill, during your Peace Corps service.

I aim to use my education and personal experiences with the United States Education system during my Peace Corps Service in Kazakhstan. My extensive education in the field of Curriculum and Instruction, particularly pertaining to English Language Learners will prove to be very useful in my role as a secondary teacher trainer. My experiences observing seasoned English teachers, utilizing best practices in teaching English to adult immigrants, and substituting in the public school system have given me ample opportunity to put my educational foundation into concrete experiences. This experience with educational theory and interactive teaching strategies will be beneficial in training teachers in Kazakhstan new methods of teaching that engage critical thinking skills and move away from rote memorization. I also aim to use my experience in public speaking, non-profit fundraising, and customer service to work respectfully and effectively within my community.
I aspire to learn a great deal more about the educational system in Kazakhstan and the goals for that educational system. I also hope to use the professional skills I possess in order to be more effective in my position as a secondary teacher trainer. I am excited to learn more about the details of the Peace Corps and working within a U.S. government organization. I aspire to be an outstanding Peace Corps Volunteer that will reflect my country and Peace Corps well.

The strategies for working effectively with host country partners to meet expressed needs.

In order to work effectively with host country partners to meet expressed needs, it is key to remain open-minded, patient, and respectful. During my service I intend to spend time getting to know my host country partners and allowing them ample time to express their needs and concerns. This involves listening carefully to gain a full understanding of their goals and the resulting implications, as well as asking questions in order to clarify and gain as clear a picture as possible. It is my hope that by listening carefully to the needs of my host country partners that I may be able to work with them to develop solutions together. Using skills and strategies learned during Peace Corps Training I aim to make myself available to my host country partners and work with them to address the concerns they have with sustainable goals and solutions.

Your strategies for adapting to a new culture with respect to your own cultural background.

I am always excited to learn about new cultures. My travels in Africa, as well as my teaching experience with English as a Second Language learners have give me an opportunity to learn a great deal about cultures that I wouldn’t have encountered otherwise. Each experience with a new culture seems to change and broaden my view of the world. Every student I have discussed culture with always expresses their desire to learn as much as they can about the American culture, while still retaining their personal identity that is composed of varying values, traditions, and cultural influences. It has always been a goal in my classroom to be open and tolerant of differing views, as well as kind and understanding toward any individual no matter how different. This is a concept that can be adapted to my travels in Kazakhstan. I will strive to remain open-minded and tolerant, as well as kind and understanding. I want to learn as much about the culture of Kazakhstan while still retaining my personal values, traditions and cultural influences. I know that my personal identity will shift and grow while I am in Kazakhstan. I also recognize that with my constant journal writing, letters and e-mails to friends and family, talking with fellow Peace Corps Volunteers, and sharing with my new host country friends, I will be able to maintain a strong sense of self and my own cultural background with a broadened worldview.

The skills and knowledge you hope to gain during pre-service training to best serve your future community and project.

During pre-service training I hope to progress in the language of Kazakh or Russian as much as possible. I hope that with the instruction Peace Corps will provide and my hard work and developed study skills I will do well in the language and therefore more effectively communicate within my community and while working at my site. I also hope to learn a great deal about the educational system in Kazakhstan and the goals for English language learning. I would like to speak with current teachers and hear about their current strategies and concerns in the classroom.
I hope to gain a better understanding of life and culture within Kazakhstan. I anticipate that pre-service training will train me to utilize the skills I possess in ways that will be most effective in my future position in Kazakhstan.

How you think Peace Corps service will influence your personal and professional aspirations after your service ends.

I know that the effect my Peace Corps service will have on my personal and professional life will be vast. I believe my Peace Corps service will challenge my current thoughts on the world outside of the United States. I am sure that I will gain a greater understanding of myself including my limitations and abilities. Peace Corps will push me beyond my general comfort level and test my strength as an individual. I know that I will return to the states with a greater appreciation for family and friends and small comforts that may now go unnoticed.
Professionally, my Peace Corps service will give me an undoubted advantage in an English as a Second language classroom, whether it is here in the United States or abroad. Spending time working with other teachers and focusing on useful strategies in the classroom will certainly cause me to reevaluate my classroom strategies. The international experience of living in Kazakhstan and learning a second language will give me an advantage in being able to more closely relate to the students in my classroom. No matter what direction my professional endeavors take me, the life skills I will develop in my Peace Corps service will transfer and apply. I am certain that I will possess more confidence in my professional skills and my ability to accomplish even the most arduous task.

Friday, October 15, 2010

and that's all folks.

i have accepted the position in kazakhstan. i put more details about kazakhstan and my assignment under the tabs at the top of the page.

the question of the hour has been 'how do you feel'? i feel a lot of things at the moment. i am mainly excited about this absolutely superb opportunity. of course there is a hint of sadness at leaving my awesome family and friends. i know that particular feeling is one that i will feel much stronger the closer march, 9th gets. right now though, i am feeling a whole lot of overwhelmed.

i have so much information to process and paperwork to fill out and send in. i also have my updated resume and aspiration statement to send in. unfortunately, i still have a major commitment to my classes and work. as much as i would love to plop down on my couch, work on a packing list, and practice russian, i still have plenty o' stuff to get done.

i also have a lot of people to tell about pc. i kept it all on the down low because i didn't want to say anything and then not get invited, but now i have so many people to tell that had no clue i even applied.

this is so exciting and exhausting and i still have quite a while until staging.

let the countdown begin,

Sunday, October 10, 2010


it is amazing to me that it is finally that time. i woke up to find a toolkit update: i'm invited to serve! not only was that exciting enough, but my invitation kit was in the mail the same day. (one of the perks of living so close to dc and the pc headquarters)

i have been invited to serve in kazakhstan! my staging is march 9, 2011. my assignment is secondary teacher trainer.

i have to admit that i was completely surprised by this. i was thinking it would be ukraine, albania, or turkmenistan based on the peace corps wiki timeline. i've been doing my research, and i will be sending in my final decision by wednesday.

i didn't update like i should have, but my placement officer sent me an email last thursday with my final interview questions.she also let me know that she was looking at a program in eastern europe/central asia leaving in march. i answered the questions and emailed her back the next morning. i can't believe how quickly this all came around.

still processing the good news,

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

thank you for the timeframe.

it's been a while. i went on vacay with the fam and fall classes just started. and i am turning into a lazy b. anyways, my master's international liaison sent me an email on aug. 18. i know that was a good minute ago, but she wrote me asking for me to get confirmation that i am still a student in the mi program. i emailed my program director, but everyone that works for my program just resigned and it apparently takes her months to respond to any emails. so i'm still waiting on that. in other news....this is what the bottom of her email said:

In the meantime, I will pass your file onto a Placement Officer for further review. You should be hearing from our office in the next 2 months regarding placement.

say what?! peace corps has given me a timeframe. now the question is...does that mean they will be contacting me in the next 2 months, or inviting me? i'm trying not to look too much into this, either way it is nice just to know my file is being pushed forward.

i have been thinking about pc a lot lately (and having some pretty crazy nightmares) and i will probably post something about all that soon. but for now, back to homework.

Monday, July 12, 2010

so long medical labyrinth.

i have medical clearance! this may end up being a lengthy post, so i decided to post the important info up front. i recognize that most of ya won't make it to the bottom.

on wednesday i called my doctor to make sure they faxed the info over to the pc office on thursday like they told me they were going to do. i was a little nervous since my toolkit hadn't been updated. as i suspected the dr.'s office completely forgot. & they left it at their other office (apparently there are two?) so they would have to wait to fax it until the morning. I called again the next day at lunch and they had forgotten again! so i made them put me on hold while they did. [side note: the peace corps has brought out a crazy side of me i didn't know existed. i am typically the definition of laid-back.]

friday morning i woke up to the toolkit update i had been expecting. the hold on my account had been removed. exactly the same way it happened the last time. i was assuming that now that they had all the info i would hear from them with a decision in the next two weeks. on saturday morning i woke up to another toolkit update!! they reached a decision and the letter is in the mail. i was totally not expecting that, especially since the work week was over.

todayyy i got an email from the placement office! it was the generic letter congratulating me on medical clearance (which i now know i got, even though the letter hasn't arrived), and asking for updated resume and patience. dun dun dun. anywho, i'm stoked just to finally be at this point in the application process.

in other news:

i am currently in my intensive summer courses for my master's international program in ESL. what is awesome about completing three classes for a month that last 6 hours? there are a ton of pcvs in my classes doing the fellows program. they all have great stories to tell, and it is getting me even more stoked about pc service. they are full of advice i.e. make embassy friends cuz they have access to ranch dressing, and awesome tidbits of information. also in my class are a bunch of people with international experience that aren't so fond of peace corps. i can't tell you how many people have told me i am an idealist, and i will just be frustrated because i really can't help. i am mostly trying to stick to the positive folks in my group and avoid the neigh-sayers.

writing an updated resume?
you betcha.


Friday, June 25, 2010

on to the next medical hurdle.

i was right about the letter from oms. it is for me to follow-up with my surgeon. i got the letter in the mail wednesday. it is a pretty detailed form i need the surgeon to fill out. so i called the surgeon the next morning to set an appointment. they could squeeze me in for an appointment in august. the receptionist was very nice though, and said she would call if there were any cancellations. i was just about to call oms to see if there were any plan b's when my surgeon's office called me back. they are going to have me fax them the forms and fill them out and then I can pick them up, no appointment necessary. yay! I faxed the form in yesterday afternoon. now i am just waiting on the surgeon's office. i know it will take them a while, but at least it won't be august.

even though i'm still waiting, it is kind of nice for the waiting to be on my end for a change. i like knowing what exactly i am waiting for and where in that process i stand. it is like the window on my end is crystal clear. i can see everything that is happening. the window on the peace corps' end is like stained glass. i can vaguely see where i'm at, but no details. even so, i still love to look.

enjoying the clear view,

Friday, June 18, 2010

oh, lovely to hear from you.

i heard from the placement office for the first time. i'm pretty excited about that. my master's international placement liaison sent me an email on monday. she requested an updated resume, a confirmation on my availability, my transcripts from my master's program, and the number of semesters i will have completed by the time i will leave. pretty standard email from what i have been gathering on the pc journals. slightly different with the mi stuff. she acknowledged that i hadn't been medically cleared yet, but that she wanted to go ahead and get the info already.

that got me thinking about the medical clearance. i sent in all the forms they requested a good minute ago. they took the hold off my account and then put it back on. i've heard from others that it didn't take too long after that second hold to get clearance, but apparently that is not the case for me. i then got an email from oms about ten minutes after i sent in the needed info to the placement office.

they said they had sent a letter to my home address, but it had been returned as undeliverable. they wanted me to check the address and make sure they had it right (which they did) or call the post office and see what is up (which i did). the post office couldn't figure out why it had been sent back. figures. anywho,i told oms it was correct and to go ahead and send it again. whatever they did last time seemed to work, so hopefully it will work this time.

i'm frustrated because they sent the letter on june 1 originally. which means whatever that letter holds i could have been working on by now. o well. i just know that letter won't hold any good news since oms hasn't reached a decision about my medical yet. i'm praying it doesn't involve a visit to the surgeon since the last batch of information i sent in had to answer questions about the surgery. i won't get in the surgeon's office for months. at this point i can only guess what will be in the envelope.

playing the guessing game,

Thursday, May 27, 2010

medical hokey pokey.

i got a medical hold on my account. and then the letter came in the mail.... incomplete. apparently my doctor and i missed my pulse. it makes sense why oms had to send it back. how could they send a volunteer overseas with no pulse?! i also had to fill in some info on my allergies and follow-up on a surgery i had a year ago. i got this letter on monday. i got into the doctor's office yesterday morning and had everything faxed over in the afternoon. i woke up this morning to a lovely toolkit update. the hold on my account has been removed. i can only guess how long the medical review will take from here. as least now i know they have all the information they need. i think.

in non-pc related news, i taught my last volunteer esl class for the semester on tuesday. my students were so sweet i almost cried! tonight is the end of the year celebration. we are having a giant potluck. my class is making me papusas since apparently it is a sin that i have never tried them. mmm. i have to decide in the next couple weeks if i am going to teach there again next year. i'm pretty torn. I applied for a few paid esl jobs, so we will see if i am lucky enough to get them with the little experience and education i do have.

fingers crossed,

Friday, May 21, 2010

i'm moving on up.

i got a toolkit update this morning in my email. i have to admit that i was puzzled as to what it could possibly be. i sent in the medical paperwork and it was received. i have already been dentally cleared. i'm not nominated until jan-march of 2010. after reading the blurb about only reviewing those departing in the next four months i was surprised to find out my medical is under review! well before time, but i am certainly not complaining. i will undoubtedly have to make some follow-ups with my poor luck, so this will give me the time to do that.

it's a funny thing. i was going through a phase where i didn't even want to think about pc anymore. i knew i had months and months to wait so i had decided to just let it be for a while. i have been focusing on school work and coming up with viable back-up plans for pc. then out of no where i get this little teaser. it's almost pc's way of slapping me in the face and saying, "get back on board". anyways, i'm super stoked that my medical is under review. that's a big ol jump forward i hadn't been expecting, and i am beyond stoked about it. eek!

awaiting the next early morning update,

Friday, March 26, 2010

& there is nothing.

i thought i was getting better at this patience thing. haha. not. i didn't want to post again until something interesting happened in my peace corps process, but my poor little blog just looks so empty and lonely. and so i am writing. but i have nothing to say. other than the fact that i have lost it.

i have poured over countless blogs and wiki pages looking for info. i know i don't leave for a hundred years (at least it feels that way), but i just would love to know what continent i will be in. i feel like it is not too much to ask. the pains of an mi student, a location-less nomination.

any-who...i guess i should just wait. like normal people.

in non-pc related news: i have started subbing and i love it. which is good since i am getting my master's in education. i also teach an adult esl class. love that one too. i also love that i am learning so much in class that i am getting to add to my awesome lesson plans for my adult esl class. i'm pretty sure they're loving it too. i started out teaching straight from the book which was pretty boring for all of us. now i am filled with fun games and awesome activities. yay for learning something in school!

aaanddd...i leave for the beach in 9 days. wooo.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

my pearly whites

dental clearance. yay! even though it is just one check mark of many, it feels pretty awesome. i am now just going to have to wait for a loooong time before i hear anything else. since my departure isn't for a little less than a year, i have a lot of time to kill.

in other news, i just got my first place with my sister! i am working on painting and moving in now. eeek. it is just so cute, and i am so excited.

the most important thing i have learned in this peace corps process is that it is so important to have other things going on in your life. it is too easy to get wrapped up in the application process and before you know it consumes your life. while i am still so excited about every step i take that gets me closer to being a pcv, i am so thankful that i have school and work and fun to keep me sane.

back to packing,

Monday, February 22, 2010

medical in the mail. phew.

finally. i got the medical packet in the mail. i got a call this morning that my lab results were in and looked good. yay!. i decided to make copies and double-check everything before i went to pick them up. good thing i did because i noticed that the nurse practitioner that did my medical examination didn't have the doctor co-sign the forms. i had the doctor sign them while i picked up my labs. i had it in the mail in time to go out today. i hope that i got everything taken care of.

i am actually surprised at how quickly i got in and out of the doctor's offices. i mean i know i'm not out of the woods yet, but i'm hoping. it took just over two weeks to finish everything. that includes getting my wisdom teeth out! i think that is pretty impressive.

So now i wait. & wait. & wait some more. i have to admit that i am completely jealous of reading all of the posts about invitations. most of those getting their invites now applied around the same time i did. moving and deciding to do the master's international program definitely slowed my application process down. i have to just keep reminding myself that at the end of it i will come out with my master's degree. that is totally worth the wait. & i think the skills i am gaining in school right now are going to be so useful in my peace corps service. i just can't wait to get started.
right now i'm just hoping for an easy medical clearance.

here's to hoping,

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

one step forward, two steps back.

i got my wisdom teeth pulled today. it was a pretty unfortunate experience, but it puts me that much closer to finishing all of my medical stuff. it wouldn't be that bad, but all i can eat is soft stuff and i am finding out that almost all soft stuff is sweet. yogurt, pudding, shakes, smoothies...a sweet tooth's dream. too bad i'm a fan of salty. i'm not in much pain though and the swelling is nonexistent, though i hear that will be worse by friday.

in other news, i called my doctor yesterday to see if my lab results were in yet and she said i could pick them up this afternoon. i was stoked to be able to mail everything out today! unfortunately about fifteen minutes after getting my teeth out this morning my doctor called and told me that one of the lab results came back a little fishy. she said it was no big, but she wants me to redo the test. so i am going back in to get more blood taken tomorrow. then it will be another week of the waiting game. at least i am becoming a veteran at it...patience has always been a weakness of mine. it's amazing what the peace corps application process can do for you.

i have to admit that i am slightly nervous about the lab tests, but my doctor wasn't stressing it so i'm trying not to. i just can't wait to get this packet in the mail. my goal was to have it in by friday...guess i might have to wait for next week. the fact that my nomination is for a year from now should really keep me from being overly eager.

in the meantime...working on my patience bone.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


i have decided to start a blog to document my thoughts and opinions throughout the peace corps application process.

let me start by saying this is mostly for myself, but if someone somewhere gets some sort of benefit from my ramblings that is awesome. a little bit about myself: my name is emily & i am 22 years old. i turned in my application for the peace corps sometime last april. i am currently a master's international student at george mason studying tesl. i was nominated for secondary education english teacher training somewhere unknown in the world leaving between jan and march of 2011. apparently MI students don't really get a clue about where they are headed. it just makes the process that much more suspenseful i reckon.

i am currently undergoing the medical evaluation portion of the application process. i got my medical packet on monday. i had my medical evaluation on tuesday and ran over to lenscrafters to get them to fill out the eye glasses from. it took them two hours to fill the form out, but at least it is done. i had my dentist appointment today and found out i have to get my wisdom teeth taken i'm pretty much just stuck in a waiting period right now. I am waiting on lab results to get back and waiting on my appointment to get my teeth out. i'm not leaving for another year so i'm not really stressing it. so far i haven't had much stress with the medical process & i am kinda hoping it stays that way.

in other news, i bought the insider's guide to the peace corps by dillon banerjee. i drove out to barnes and noble about 40 minutes away from my house just to get it. it may not have been the wisest decision considering the blizzard we just had, but my mustang and i both made it back safely. as for the book- go get it! it is awesome and i am already learning so much. i have definitely read everything i can on the internet about PC, but this book goes above and beyond. <3 it.

until next time,