In case this comes as a surprise, I’ve joined the Peace Corps. Many of you are wondering (several of you out loud) if I’ve lost my mind. I promise you, this was all well thought out.
Perhaps sometime during the hundreds of application questions, I may have had my doubts. But as I contacted my references and worked on my essay questions, I was incredibly certain. I was so certain, that I didn’t waste a minute getting my fingers printed by the sheriff or filling out the requested background check. I was eager to hop on the train and travel an hour into New York City for an interview. I shrieked with excitement when I was nominated for Central/South America. I showed equal enthusiasm when my nomination was changed to the Caribbean. I opened wide for my dental exams as each tooth was measured and each x-ray was taken. I dutifully researched and tracked down a VA to do my medical exams. When my car was not allowed on the military premise, I parked in the lot and marched all the way across the base to see a doctor. (Three times.) I was poked with 4 needles and gave 10 viles of blood. I cried when the doctor told me I was HIV positive. A week later, I confidently shouted when she said it was a mistake. I came back to Minnesota and sat across from a psychologist to prove my sanity. (Everything was clear.) I mailed in forms and sat in an abyss of waiting. And waiting. And waiting. My heart dropped when I discovered my medical clearance had taken too long for a Caribbean invitation. I waited longer. I made more phone calls. I felt a surge of excitement as I learned my medical was finally clear. And I practiced more waiting.
I was standing with my mom in the isle of Wal-mart when the Peace Corps called. The woman asked very few questions. Quite abruptly I was told I’d be receiving an invitation to serve as an HIV/AIDS volunteer for sub-Saharan Africa. (“sub-Saharn where??”)
It was 2 weeks later when I finally opened the envelope and held in my hands the piece of gold I had waited an entire gestation period for: An invitation to serve in Ethiopia.
So, I assure you I’ve had plenty of time to think this over. I’ve had plenty of time to research, and plenty of time to back out. (Not an ounce of my soul wants to.) As my dad has says, the Peace Corps is just me. And I couldn’t think of doing anything else.