Sunday, February 24, 2008


Hi, I've started a new blog at:

Please visit my new and improved blog...I will no longer be updating this blog.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Peace Corps Invitation News

Wow, I’m so excited…my PO (Placement Officer) called from Washington today to discuss my invitation.

I had called off from work today, because I have the nasty flu virus that’s going around. My cell phone rang and woke me from a fever induced nap. I picked up the phone but I didn’t answer it, because I didn’t recognize the number. It rang again a few minutes later indicating I had a voice mail. I listened to the message and was very surprised to hear that it was my PO introducing herself, and requesting that I call her back in regards to my invitation. I jumped out of bed, completely forgetting about my sore throat and fever, and ran across my room to jot down her number. I had been very upset about having to stay home and use PTO for being ill, but if I had been at work, I would have missed her call. Anyway, I called her back and had to leave a message because she didn’t answer. About 10 agonizing minutes later, my phone rang again and it was my PO.

She started off by telling me that my nomination had changed. She said the Youth Development program I had been nominated for was not in operation anymore (Kenya maybe?). She said she found another program that she thought would be better suited to my educational\experience background. However, she said she needed to ask me a few questions first. She congratulated me on being medically cleared. She then asked me about any computer related college classes I had taken, and also asked my about my prior experience at teaching computer literacy classes to youth. She then said she would like to invite me to be a Resource Specialist in Africa teaching computer literacy under the School and Community Resource Project leaving July 2008. I told her I would love to do that. I asked her where in Africa, and she said that she couldn’t tell me over the phone. She said that I would be receiving the invitation packet in the mail in a few days, and I would have 10 days to accept or reject the invitation. She said the packet would offer further details on what my duties would entail as a Resource Specialist, and where I would be stationed.

This is wonderful news…I didn’t expect to hear anything for another 2-3 months! I’m also surprised that I was offered a completely different position than I was nominated for, and I’m now leaving about 2 moths earlier! I’m very happy with this position, because I’ll get to work with two things I enjoy: youth and computers!

I’ll post another update after I receive my invitation!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Peace Corps Application Timeline-February 2008

February 20th, 2008
I received the following email message today:
"Peace Corps has updated your Application Status account. Log in to to see the latest information."

When I logged on, I found the following message:
"Congratulations! You have been invited to become a Peace Corps Volunteer.
Peace Corps sent you an invitation kit on February 19, 2008. Within 10 days of receiving your kit, please call us regarding your decision to accept or decline our invitation. If we do not hear from you within this period, the assignment may be offered to another applicant.
This section of the Web site provides details about what happens after you have been sent your invitation. It also covers important safety, security, and travel information that will be addressed before you go overseas. You will still be able to check your application status, make updates to your contact information, gather resources about your assignment area and region, and download information to give to your family and friends. Of course, the information presented here is meant to complement any other materials you receive from the Peace Corps, not replace them. We will continue to communicate with you via email, postal mail, and telephone while you are an invitee."

February 19th, 2008
I received a call from my PO today, telling my that my nomination has changed, and my invitation is in the mail. See my invitation post for more details!

February 2, 2008
I received the following letter from the PC today dated 1/31/08:

Dear Ms. Sherry
You have been medically (not dentally) qualified for Pc service. Your application will now be considered by the Office of Placement, which matches the experience and skills of medically qualified applicants with the requirements of available assignments. They will notify you directly of their decision.
You will be notified separately of your dental qualification. Final clearance for a staging and/or departure cannot be given until your dental qualification is completed.
You are required to bring a three (3) month supply of all your current medications/s to country with you. PC will use generic equivalents whenever possible while you are in service. If you have any medication allergies, please wear a Med-alert bracelet at all time while you are in the PC service.
Remember that your medical/dental clearance is base on your current status. Please notify us immediately if you become ill, undergo surgery, add or change medication (including birth control pills or injections), undergo therapy/treatment, or develop any condition for which you seek medial assistance. Any significant change in your current health status may impact on your medical/dental clearance. Failure to disclose such information may seriously affect your health overseas, as well as your status as a PC Trainee/Volunteer.

I’ve already received dental clearance and I’m not taking any meds…so I’m good there.
Now I just have to wait patiently for an invitation!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Naked Mole-Rats...Peace Corps Soup

This little animal really exists! It's called a Naked Mole-Rat, and it makes its home in Africa.

I received this photo in an email today from Megan, one of my email buddies at work. I was very surprised to see the photo, because I just finished reading a book (Nine Hills to Nambonkaha: Two Years in the Heart of an African Village) that mentions a meal that I believe may have included this little creature. The book was written by a former PCV, Sarah Erdman. In the book she writes about being given a bowl of soup that contained the head of what looked like a rat, with very large buck teeth…still intact. I believe this little creature may have been the main ingredient in Sarah's soup! (You should read this book if you haven''s great!). I have to say that I don’t think these little creatures look very appetizing, but I could be wrong...maybe they taste like chicken!

If you are interested, you can find mole-rat info at:
*Native Africans have long known of the existence of naked mole-rats, which they call sand puppies. *Naked mole-rats are limited to the horn of Africa, including parts of Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Sherry Goes to Africa....

So, I think I’ve narrowed down where I might be going in Africa. According to some websites I’ve looked at, the following countries are Anglophone (English speaking) countries in Africa:

South Africa

Peace Corps Program Number & Nomination Letter

With the help of my buddies on the PC yahoo group I belong to, I think I’ve figured out what my nomination program number stands for. However, before I get to the code, I thought I would paste a copy of my nomination letter here from November 2007:

Dear Sherry, November 02, 2007
I am pleased to nominate you for the following Peace Corps assignment:
Program Name: Youth Development

Program Number: 164-08-044-D2
A nomination is a recommendation that your application be given further consideration. I am sending your file to the Placement Unit at Peace Corps headquarters in Washington, DC, where several important screenings take place and where assignment matches for qualified prospective Volunteers are finalized.
You continue to play a crucial role in these matters. Getting your documents to Peace Corps in a timely manner is what keeps your file moving forward. Without all requested documentation (medical or legal), your file cannot be processed and you may lose the opportunity to serve in the timeframe and location that we have discussed.
As we discussed in your interview, medical screening begins at this time. The Office of Medical Services (OMS) will contact you regarding medical and dental examinations. Please schedule your exams as soon as you receive the OMS forms and instructions and promptly submit all requested information. If you have questions about the medical and dental information you receive, a Customer Service Representative in OMS is available to you.
Once you have been medically qualified and have met the legal criteria, your Placement Officer will match you to an assignment based on the academic, technical and/or language requirements of the host country and any special accommodation needs you may have. At that point, you will be sent an invitation to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer.
An invitation is your official offer from Peace Corps. We recommend you not make any major commitments or changes, such as moving out of your residence or leaving your job, until you receive and accept an invitation.
I am happy to nominate you for Peace Corps service and will continue to be available to you. Best of luck in becoming a Peace Corps Volunteer!
Recruitment Representative
Volunteer, Morocco 1997-1999

Now, let’s get back to what the program number stands for:
--Youth Development
044—Quarter 4 (July-September)
D—My Placement Officer Code
2—The 2nd listing for my PO for Quarter 4

Now, don’t you feel enlightened? I thought figuring out my code, would help me figure out where I would be going in Africa, but it didn’t!

Friday, February 1, 2008

More Peace Corps News....

More News....

I posted a message on a PC yahoo message board asking how I could find out who my PO is. I received the following message from a PC campus recruiter:

"When you were nominated did you receive a sheet called “key points to remember’ or something similar? It should have had your placement officer’s name and number/email. There has been a bunch of new placement officers recently so you might have a new placement officer. The number for the Africa placement office is 1-800-424-8580 Option 2, ext. 1850 though I would try to wait a few days at the least for them to follow up with you, though I know you are probably bursting to hear some news."

So, of course I called the Africa placement office. The guy who answered the phone wouldn’t tell me who my PO is, but said he would answer any questions I might have. So, I asked him if I was going to a French speaking region in Africa. He said that I was going to an English\Tribal speaking region in Africa. He also said it might be several months before I receive an invitation since I don’t leave until Sept.

So, at least I know that I’m going to an English\Tribal speaking region in Africa...that helps to narrow things down some.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Peace Corps Application Timeline-January 2008

January 31, 2008


So I checked me email today, and received the following message from the PC:
"Peace Corps has updated your Application Status account. Log in to to see the latest information. "

So, of course I logged on and saw:
"Medical: Complete. Peace Corps has completed your medical review. There are no medical holds on your account at this time."

Wahoo!! I've been medically cleared for service. Now I just have to wait patiently for an invitation!! The invitation process usually takes around 1-2 months. I’ll find out where I’ll be going in Africa when I receive the invitation.

However, being excited and not patient, I decided to email my recruiter and ask him the following:

Hi Ken, I just wanted to let you know that I've been cleared medically!! Wahoo!! Do you know if I have any restrictions with my medical clearance? Do you know when I might recieve an invitation? Do you know if I've been nominated for a French speaking country in Sub-Saharan Africa?

And, he responded:

Hi Sherry, Congratulations on clearing medical. The placement office will be contacting you about the particular program. Your file is now in D.C. and I’m out of the loop. Let me know where you end up.
So, hopefully I'll hear something soon!!

January 30, 2008
I received an email this morning from the medical office Pre-Service Assistant stating they had received my fax. So, I’m praying that the PC has all they need now to clear me for service. Keep your fingers crossed!!

January 29, 2008
I faxed the page that needed to signature to my Dr’s office to be signed and faxed back. However, when I called to check on it at noon, I was told it might not get done that day. Having little patience, I decided to drive to the office on my lunch break to see if I could get things rolling a little faster. I spoke to the physicians nurse, and she told me I would be waiting a long time because the Doctor was really busy. I told her that it was really important that I get the paperwork signed, because I wouldn’t be medically cleared with the PC until the paperwork was signed and returned to the PC Washington Medical Office. Then, for added encouragement, I told her I would send her a souvenir from Africa for her trouble. She smiled real big, and said that a picture of Africa would be enough, and she would see what she could do to hurry the Doctor along. By the time I got back to work, she had already faxed me my medical paperwork with the required signature. So, without delay, I faxed it the paperwork to my PC nurse. I also emailed the medical office to make sure they received my fax.

January 28, 2008
I got a letter from my PC nurse today (1/28) that had been mailed on 1/23/08. . The letter stated the PC needs a Physician’s signature on my medical paperwork. My medical paperwork was signed by a physician’s assistant, and then the medical office staff stamped my medical paperwork with a stamp of the physician’s signature. I thought the PC would be ok with the stamp, but apparently not.

January 24th, 2008
Wow...some news at last!!! I got an email today that said, "Peace Corps has updated your Application Status account. Log in to to see the latest information. " When I logged on, I received the message below: "A hold has been placed on your file. This may mean simply that your file is under review. See below for further information." "Medical HOLD: All nominees have a medical hold while they are under review. No further action from you is required, unless the Office of Medical Services contacts you to request additional information." So, what does all that mean you may ask. Well, it means that the PC is finally reviewing my medical packet!!! I believe there may be about a 2-5 day timeframe before I find out if I've been medically cleared, not cleared, or if the PC needs more medical info to make their decision. Keep your fingers crossed!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Peace Corps Motivation Statement Essay

So, I failed to post the Motivation Statement Essay when I posted the Cross Cultural Essay. These two essays are required as part of the initial PC application process. So, without further delay, here is my Motivation Statement Essay.

Motivation Statement Essay Directions
Peace Corps service presents major physical, emotional, and intellectual challenges. You have provided information on how you qualify for Peace Corps service elsewhere in the application. In the space below, please provide a statement (between 250-500 words) that includes: 1) Your reasons for wanting to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer; and 2) How these reasons are related to your past experiences and life goals.

Motivation Statement

The Peace Corp’s Mission Statement
1. Helping the people of interested countries in meeting
their need for trained men and women.
2. Helping promote a better understanding of Americans
on the part of the peoples served.
3. Helping promote a better understanding of
other peoples on the part of Americans.

The Peace Corp’s mission statement may be “simple”, but Peace Corps volunteers have enhanced the lives of countless people worldwide since 1961. I believe wholeheartedly in the Peace Corp’s mission, and would like to volunteer for this phenomenal organization. I believe that through the Peace Corps, I can make a positive contribution to the world’s humanity. I would also like to have the chance to challenge myself mentally, emotionally, and physically, and I think volunteering with the Peace Corps will make that possible.

While growing up, my family taught me the value of an education, and with hard work and determination I was privileged enough to obtain a college education. I would like to have a chance to apply what I learned in college and what I have learned from volunteering and work related activities, to contribute to the world community. I know that I might not be able to change the world, but I would like to contribute my talents as needed. I believe that volunteering with the Peace Corps will enable me to do just that.

I majored in Anthropology, Folk Studies, and Social Work in college, which allowed me to study various world cultures. However, reading about culture\people from a textbook, is much different than face to face interaction. Whereas a textbook can explain how something might taste or smell, it’s not tangible. Experience goes far beyond the pages of textbook. Volunteering with the Peace Corps will enable me to have the one on one interaction that was not available in the classroom.

I know that being away from friends and family for over two years will be difficult emotionally. I know that I may face many complex challenges, which includes the possibility of learning a new language. However difficult the challenges might be, I know that serving for the Peace Corps will change my life forever, and I’m ready for that challenge.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Peace Corps Nominee Toolkit Learning Resources

A section of the PC Nominee Toolkit includes Learning Recources to help you prepare for PC service:

"It may be a while before you depart for your country of service, but that doesn't mean that you can't start preparing right now! In the coming months, Peace Corps will be adding a series of online training activities to My Toolkit that will help you help yourself get ready for your Volunteer experience. Two new activities are now available to you. The first delves into the different ways in which you can learn new languages. The second explores the various roles that Volunteers can play in different situations. You will also note that we have added a new online journal that will help you reflect on the new things you are learning about Peace Corps as you move through the activities."

So, I decided to share some of the activites here. The 1st activity is about Nelson Mandela and language. I have posted the questions below along with my answers:

Nelson Mandela & Language Learning:
"If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart." – Nelson Mandela, from an interview with Fikile Bam

What elements of Nelson's story do you find inspiring?
I find it inspiring that Nelson Mandela was able to use every resource was available to him, to help other people in any way that he could. I also find it inspiring that although he could afford to hire a translator, he choose instead learn the language for himself.

What is the value in learning a foreign language?
You are able to communicate with others more effectively that can't speak your language. Although you could hire or find an interpreter, communication is more effective when you are able to communicate face to face with another person, instead of having someone in the middle. There are many ideas, words, etc that can be lost in translation, and it’s very difficult to translate body language. It would be very difficult to have a conversation with someone with a wall in the middle even if you did speak the same language, because you wouldn’t be able to read body language.
I also believe that if you are trying to help another group of people learn a new trade, learn more effective farming methods, etc, you will achieve better success if you learn their language. The local people will have more respect for you because they will realize that you cared enough to take the time to learn their language. If you are living on their soil, in their villages, eating their food, you should also learn their language.

How do you feel about learning and using a foreign language as a Peace Corps Volunteer?
I think it's wonderful; I've always wanted to learn a foreign language. I think learning the local language will enable me to reach my Peace Corps objective of helping other people improve their health, food production, etc.