Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Was It Tough To Get In?

The Peace Corps application process is rough. It's similar to fighting off a crocodile in a swimming pool filled with tapioca the dark.

So you go to an Information Session and hear how The Peace Corps is super hard and super awesome at the same time. Returned volunteers tell stories about what their time was like. The stories are amazing. You imagine yourself in these stories. The people in the room with you have one of two looks... They are excited and inspired, or they are completely glazed over. It doesn't take long to realize when Peace Corps service is not for you.

Next you go online and fill out an application. The application is very long, and covers everything you've done professionally, as a volunteer, in school, you name it. Filling out the application has the side-effect of pointing out that you may not be as qualified as you had hoped. Unlike most job applications this one comes with mandatory essays, so get your reasons for wanting to go and start writing.

Within a few weeks a Peace Corps representative contacts you for a face-to-face interview. This interview covers all the things on your application. The representative helps you to consider everything you've ever done as additional experience. This is probably the first time you start to see yourself actually making this journey successfully, and it's exciting! Which is a bummer, because getting excited at this point is a wee bit counter-productive, because...

...then comes the medical, the legal, and the waiting. SOOOO much waiting. To help you to get a feeling for the waiting period I will now paste the entire text of War and Peace backwards for you to read. Consider that wait month one and get ready for month two, three, four, etc. Oh drat, my copy and paster is broken. I knew once Google owned BlogSpot things wouldn't work right anymore...

So you've waited by your mailbox for month after month. You've been patient. You've lost patience. You feel like you are going to be someone's patient if it goes on much longer....then it arrives!!! A letter asking for more information. Rinse and repeat a few times.

Each year 12,000 or so people apply. 95% have college degrees (yours truly is not one of those...) Nearly everyone has lots of experience volunteering to go with their smarts. 4,000 or so people get in. Not everyone that ships out stays shipped out, but the ones that do end up with the best stories, the widest horizons and the experience of a lifetime. That's going to be me. You can hold me to that.


  1. Hey!
    Not to be a total creeper, but I'm going to Togo for the Peace Corps too! I can completely commiserate in regards to the application process. But now that its all underway, it is so nice to sit back and try to figure out how to condense my life into 80lbs..
    If you want to compare packing lists, just let me know! My email is
    See ya there! :)

  2. No worries man. We call our groups or classes Stages (pronounced with a frenchy accent). There is a whole new Peace Corps lingo you will have to pick up. Its crazy to think back to when I was about to leave. I came in with the September 09 stage and we swear in in December. My first couple days in Togo really sucked and I wanted to quit as soon as I got of the plane. But Im really glad I stayed. Du Courage

  3. Hey guys,

    I really liked your post. I'm leaving in the Summer for my post as well. I wanted to know where you guys found your mail addresses already. I haven't located mine on any forms or papers.
    It would really help.


  4. I found mine in the Welcome Book. Since the PC Office rarely moves, I'd assume anyone in your country would have the same address that you will. Good luck!!!