The Invitation

While I was studying for a physics test and noshing on an exceedingly healthful breakfast of vanilla ice cream with fresh peaches, an email alert flashed across my computer screen. It was from my Placement Officer. All I could see were a few words, but the very first one was, “Congratulations!” I could already feel the tears of joy welling up in my eyes, and I hadn’t even opened the email yet. My old MacBook Pro runs pretty slowly these days, and as I waited for the email to open, I almost ripped my hair out.

When it finally opened, it read:

Dear Abbie,

Congratulations! On behalf of the entire Peace Corps family, I’m delighted to invite you to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ecuador. You’ve been selected to serve as a/an Health Extension Volunteer, departing May 17, 2016.  By accepting this invitation, you will join hundreds of thousands of Americans who have answered the call to service and made a difference in communities around the world…

I screamed joyously, “MOM! DAD! I JUST RECEIVED A PEACE CORPS INVITATION! I REPEAT, I JUST RECEIVED A PEACE CORPS INVITATION!” They both ran to me from different areas of the house, hugging me excitedly. I read them the email, and we decided to accept my invitation as a family. We placed my laptop on the kitchen counter, clicked on the link that read, “PCV Invitation Decision Form,” and pressed the “accept” button. After clicking “accept,” I couldn’t help but stand back and dance like a madman. I can’t remember the last time I was this happy. My cheeks are sore from so much smiling.

Nonetheless, accepting the invitation is only the beginning. My departure for service is contingent upon receiving medical clearance, and it includes quite an extensive array of medical tasks. If I fail to submit any medical information, or I discover that I have some bizarre genetic disease (let’s hope not…), I might lose my eligibility to serve. Other than receiving medical clearance, I also have to utilize the Pre-Departure Checklist, so I can keep track of everything I need to do over the next couple months. In the next few days, I have to verify my current mailing address so I can receive a legal kit (two fingerprint charts and the paperwork necessary to initiate my background investigation), upload an updated resume to the Peace Corps Application Portal, complete some pre-departure online training modules, and complete a no-fee passport and visa application.

I have a few busy months coming up, but I’m too excited to be concerned. When I had my interview, my Placement Officer told me that by October 1st, the number of people applying for the 40 positions in Ecuador will exceed 300. My interview was three weeks ago and I’ve already received my invite! This entire process is occuring far faster than I ever imagined.

Here’s a wonderful video that a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) friend of mine recently shared with me. I think it beautifully embodies what my experience will be like:

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