The content of this blog is the creator's own thoughts and does not represent the views or opinions of the Peace Corps or the United States Government. I would also like to apologize for all my spelling and grammatical errors... there will be a lot.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Last Christmas is the US

Merry Christmas everyone! And if you follow another holiday happy that too. My family was very thoughtful this year...

- My mom got me 3 books about Zambia one with a map (thank god), one about the culture and one that is a memoir about a volunteer teacher in Zambia.

- My solio charger came today I'm sad its cloudy out so I can't test it.

- My Chaco shoes also came (woo!)

- My cool-max socks are amazing

Overall I actually think I have a lot of what I need, my Marmont tent, and sleeping bag are still in the mail so is my pack. I'm almost all set!

I'm getting so excited about this, I can't stop watching the Zambia videos and reading all my books. The Vagabonding book is especially exciting to read. Only a bit more then a month left before I leave, I can't wait its going to be amazing... dirty, buggy, new and amazing!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Busy Busy Busy

Getting ready for departure is tough, but not is physician sort of way (although my hand is cramping from all the forms). It's mentally hard to completely put your life on hold for the next 2 years.

So far I have sent in the Resume, aspiration statement, passport, and visa. I have also informed my job about leaving (they are very excited for me but they were very sad). Today I finally told the parents of my students, their were tears - I have gotten very close with the families I work with and I will miss them so much. I have bought a few things (new hiking shoes, a new water container, some Nalgenes and a book). I still have stuff to do though...

After I get all the staging info, and after my last day of work (January 14th) I plan on packing, calling my bank/credit card/student loans/gym, then visiting family and friends before I leave.

There is still more to do but for now I'm just working up the nerve and tact to tell my kids about leaving... you try explaining for a group of 4-5 year olds that you are leaving to teach in Africa.

In the mean time enjoy these videos from about her Peace Corps service in Zambia.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

For my birthday I got my invite to Zambia!

This is my happy face! Best birthday present ever! Who says 23 is a boring age?

My invite had been delivered to the wrong apartment - I stalked my poor neighbor until they came home and ran to there front door the second their lights came on... I swear I'm mostly harmless.

So where am I going?

I'm going to Zambia! I'm going to be part of the RED program (Rural Education Development) working as a community education specialist! I'm so excited!

So a few things I have found out already about Zambia and my service...

- I will be expected to bike about 40 kilometers a day (24 miles)
- I will be living in VERY rural conditions (no electricity, no running water and such)

Now about Zambia

- The climate consists of three distinct seasons: a warm,
wet season from November to April; a cool, dry season from
May to August; and a hot, dry season in September and October.
-Kwacha the currency 2,500-4,900 Zkw to each US dollar
- Meat will not be often available (YES!)
- The offical language is English but I will be able to choose a language to learn for my community

There will be more to come! In the mean time here is more pictures of my beautiful invite!

Woo! Official answers!

Holy mountains of paperwork batman!

I'm so excited... I sent in my acceptance E-mail and am currently reading through the many many pages in this packet I think tomorrow (my birthday!) I will write my resume and aspiration statement this weekend will be all about getting through the forms.

Woo Happy Birthday to me! All other Zambia people lets be friends!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Are you lost in the mail again?

So no sign of the invite today, I'm starting to wonder if its lost in the mail... I have a history of getting Peace corps mail not getting to me until the 3rd time sending it out (I have no idea why, maybe my mail man hates me or my mail hates apartments.) - called Jason he said he had no idea why it wasn't there he's gonna double check the tracking number and if it says delivered he'll resend it although apparently a few people's invites were also late this week. Haha it would be my luck to get one final trip up.

*Update* Turns out UPS brought the package to 397C instead of my apt 391C yesterday, I'm currently stalking my neighbor who isn't home atm. I really hope they didn't throw is out or anything I'll cry...

Sunday, December 5, 2010

First step to going... trying meat again

So I took my first step to moving to Africa I tried meat for time in 10 years of being a Vegetarian - with 2-3 of them being Vegan. Before Vegetarians friends strangle me - hear me out, I don't know what my options are going to be at my site for the next 2 years. My placement officer flat out told me I should strongly consider reintroducing meat into my diet for my assignment and there will most likely be an instance where I will be offered meat as a sign of welcoming. And because I'm a huge nerd I feel like I wont be able to acclimate fully to a culture if I don't experience food culture. So I want my body to be able to handle meat if I HAVE to eat it and I'd rather get used to it here in the US then get sick in the middle of Zambia 100miles away from a doctor.

So what was is like eating meat again? Surprisingly anticlimactic. All meat tastes the same as I remember it which I found weird. Fish is still the best thing ever, chicken is chicken and I still don't love beef that much. As for my getting sick my stomach hates me but I have been taking meds so it more feels like a huge rock in my gut. I'm more morally having issues - I really don't want to eat meat again it feel horribly wrong, I'm trying not to think about it to much and I'm reminding myself its only for 2 years and I may not have to eat it all the time.

My other veggies how are you handling it? Are you planning on staying vegetarian the whole time or are you gonna try to stomach it down?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


So today went from horrible to amazing. Invite will be in the mail tomorrow!

I was grumpy at my job, had no sleep, and was annoyed at the Peace Corps application process. Out of retaliation at the universe, I decided to call my official placement officer at 6:30pm so I could leave a voice mail - he picked up. I was so shocked I kinda just stuttered for a bit. Then I brought up my questions about if it looked like I was gonna get my nomination date, we ended up talking for like 20-30 mins he basically gave me my placement final interview - asked about if I was still interested, if i was worried about leaving my family, about my tattoos, about being vegetarian, and what I had added to my resume, if I was comfortable riding a bike everyday.

Because I have been working as an assistant teacher he asked if I would be interested in having a more education based (but still community development) assignment leaving January 31st or if I wanted to do an HIV assignment in February. The education assignment is basically working as an education assistant, sometimes teaching classes, helping to make creative education programs (clubs and such), and working with young girls. So its basically EVERYTHING I need experience in for my career, so of course I said yes!

I'm being invited to a 'Rural Education Development' program leaving Jan 31st, its either Zambia or Mali! I'm leaning more towards Zambia because come on Victoria Falls!

So invite is going the mail tomorrow, he said it should be here by Saturday-ish - here is my updated toolkit!

I'm so excited I can't wait to actually have it in my hand so I can accept!

*Notes for applicants who are for community development in Jan/Feb and on...
- The deadline is still technically 6 weeks they are CHANGING it to 8 weeks as of next year, so they are saying 8 weeks on everything now
- They had to cancel 2 programs this month so they are trying to place the displaced people ASAP so its a bit crazy in their office
- They also were moving all last week so are also out of it
- My invite was going to be be handled next week with a bulk of January/Feb departs
- I had a mental health medical accommodation and it only affected one possible program so if you are worried about it don't!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Dates are closing in...

Day 296: The rations have run low, and I have begun to suspect that my toe is conspiring against me with the nearby rock - he never did like me...

Insanity aside... no further contact from the placement office. The closer it gets to the cut-off dates the more paranoid I am becoming. This is not improved by the placement office appearing to be in the middle of moving... I have no problem waiting, as long as I know its a sure thing. This issue becomes waiting for answers. If I can't be placed for my original nomination that's fine - that means I can get my TEFL certification, it means additional teaching experience so my application is stronger, it means I can spend my money on another tattoo (okay the last one isn't that important...). But I'd like to just know if that is the case. But its all part of the process. I'm going to be spending 2 years in a country isolated, and I can't expect answers to always be in front of me - so I guess this is good practice.

But I deeply hope for them anyway. Dear placement, I love you very much and understand that you are working very hard, and hope you will send me some good news soon. And despite what the numerous E-mails I send might suggest and this blog I am not crazy and I do not bite. Please say hello! Love Lisa.

Friday, November 12, 2010

So 6 week or 8 week minium you say? Let the paranoia begin!

I would like to note that I have heard conflicting info on the minimum invite date, every online resource says 6 weeks, by my placement assistant informed me it was 8...


Due to, too much free time (thanks to a random bout of Strep) and a uncontrollable urge to crush my own spirit, I present!!!!

The Cut-off Dates For Invites:(6-8 weeks)
South Africa -> November 24 - December 6
Mali -> December 6 - December 20
Zambia -> December 6 - December 20
Uganda -> December 15 - December 29
Namibia -> December 24 - January 7
Malawi -> January 2 - January 16

Why do I hate myself?

P.S. = Namibia I love you most of all, WIN!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Huh Timeframe for Placement?

Got an E-mail from placement, it looks like the computer generated one they send out when you are medically cleared ha ha its a bit late isn't it? But it did have some helpful highlights...

"Our database shows that you have been nominated to a Community/Youth Development program that is estimated to depart sometime in Jan/February The Community/Youth Development Desk is currently focused on programs scheduled to leave in early January, and we anticipate that the review of your file will likely start in late December...

First, a Placement Assistant will perform a preliminary review of your file... Then, your Placement Specialist will perform a final evaluation of your technical skills and suitability for service...

Invitations for Peace Corps service are issued a minimum of eight weeks in advance of program departure. You should hear from your Placement Specialist no later than the 2nd week of January if you are being invited to the program to which you were initially nominated."

I thankfully have a job I like, by January I'll have worked there 6 months which means a raise which is nice. And will officially be a year of this application woo anniversary party!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Lets try this again...

Alright everything was resubmitted, I guess what  happened was the E-mail got deleted in an automatic purge their office does, because it was over a holiday weekend. Moral of the story make sure they get your info... E-mail, E-mail, E-mail! I'm truly hoping I still make my original nomination, in reality I only have this month to be placed so I can get my invite in time for January. I'm gonna be a pain and call if I don't hear anything next week... and possibly call every week, I still can't be alive this whole month was wasted time. At least I found it out before it was too late.

Side note, I also can't believe its already been over a year into this application which mean 6 months since finishing school... hello student loan payments! When did you get here?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Information got lost in placement...

Sigh well I found out why I hadn't heard anything new in awhile. Apparently they never received my information. I have been sitting around being a complete nut about my placement checking my E-mail everyday, and the whole time they hadn't gotten any of the info I E-mailed 2-3 weeks ago. Good thing I broke down and E-mailed them to check on my application. I'm really hoping they have time to go through my information in time for my nomination date, grrr now I'm disheartened.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The waiting game! And are my comments still not working?

Watching all the peace corps journals is frustrating, I keep seeing people getting invites for the Jan/Feb and even March programs. I am well aware that I still have plenty of time before the 8 week mark but I'm still doing the compulsive check my E-mail, thank god I don't have a smart phone! I will say that the applications process leaves no room for uncertainty you have to be committed to the Peace Corps to be willing to deal with this process haha. I'm trying to not bother my officer until November, granted that will most likely mean at midnight of 1 November first I'll send and E-mail. Soon I just have to remember it will happen eventually...

On a side note, people have been E-mailing me from this site saying they couldn't comment on my blog I fiddled with the settings and I think it should be fixed anyone wanna try to see if its working now?

Friday, October 8, 2010

We have contact with placement!

Came home from work to find placement office contacted me for follow up information! I'm a bit too excited about this. Just E-mailed my undated Resume, scanned transcript (not sure if that is okay but I figure it was worth a shot), and some info about my HIV and AIDS experience since original application. I'm so close to the end of this application and it makes me happy. I hate that it is a holiday Monday so I have to wait until till later next week to find out if I need more info. Could this mean that an invitation will be coming soon? Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

While you wait... Read a book!

So while this wait between medical clearance and placement feels like forever I have to remind myself that I am already a year into my application. And I've noticed what helped pass the time best, was good books so here is a list of some of the books I have read (some re-read) in the last year that you might want to check out... Oh its also on a 1-5 scale (5 being AMAZING GO BUY THIS NOW!!!!!11!!1!)

Currently reading:

White Oleander - Janet Fitch: ***** One of my old favorite books. If your interested in a poetic and emotional book this is a good one. The first time I read it I was 14 and I was so captivated by it that I literally would skip meals and sleep to read more. Its look into the relationship between mothers and daughters, at its core level. Be warned it's fairly sexual and very heavy material but you'll remember it.

Galapagos - Kurt Vonnegut: **** I'm a huge Vonnegut fan first off so I will recommend a lot of books by him. I think this book is set apart from his others because of how concise it is. The book takes a look into all that is flawed in human beings, and all that is great in them. I love the theme of evolution in the novel and though I wont say its my favorite book of his, I'd say its worth a look at.


Catch 22 - Joseph Heller:   ** This one is difficult, I REALLY wanted to like this book. By all logic I should have liked this book. Its satirical, its witty, it had a unique voice, and for me... it was boring. I really hate to say it. I just was disinterested after the first 50 pages, and it took effort for me to actually read it all the way through. I loved the ending, but aside from that I don't think I'd read it again. Honestly I believe it has a lot to do with the writing style something about it just didn't thrill me.

American Gods - Neil Gaimen: **** Wonderful book! I always like Neil Gaimen. As usual the story and characters were interesting and I wanted to keep reading. However, as usual with his books the ending was a bit weak/ too ambiguous. Thats pretty standard for him, but I greatly enjoyed this book.

Gods Behaving Badly - Marie Phillips: ***** Awesome. This was hilarious! Nice light, humorous read. I read the whole thing in one sitting. If you want a book to keep you happy while your are trying not to look at your phone this is it.

Breakfast of Champions - Kurt Vonnegut: ***** I think Vonnegut was out of his mind when he wrote this, which made it great. The book seemed to be a series of odd thoughts in his head, kinda relating to a story. I was very entertained. My favorite part was about Germany and the creation of the beetle cars. The drawing were wonderful, I laughed the whole way through.

Slaughter House Five - Kurt Vonnegut: ***** Can you tell who one of my favorite authors is? I loved this book. The whole disjointed storytelling was captivating, I wanted to always know more. I was instantly intrested in the characters and the story. After Cat's Cradle I knew I need to read this story and I have to tell you it lives up to the hype.

War of the Flowers - Tad Williams: ***** I had always heard good things about Williams fantasy novels but this was my first time reading one. Don't let the cover fool you, this is a well written and interesting book. Though it follows a lot of the classic "fantasy" plots it still manages to feel original and thought out.

The Wyrd Sisters - Terry Pratchett: *** After reading Good Omens last year I needed to find out about this author who's voice was so obvious against Neil Gaimens. This book was a mix of reactions for me. I loved the humor and I loved the characters, but I disliked the lack of chapters and the occasional run on joke. This being my first disc-world book it was impressive to read and I'm looking forward to reading the rest.

Choke - Chuck Palahniuk:  *** Unexpected is the best way for me to describe this book. I wasn't blown away but I was often shocked. If your a fan of Palahniuks writing you'll know what I mean. This book can be a bit overpowering with the details and can make you feel uncomfortable if someone is reading over your shoulder. But over all well written and interesting.

I'll think of more later. How is everyone else spending there waiting time?

Sunday, October 3, 2010


Still waiting to hear ANYTHING from placement office. I looked around and it seems to be either something that happens right away or not for months. Just trying to not check my E-mail ten times a day...

Due to boredom I decided to play around on the peace corps wiki calculator and do a bit of cross referencing with departure dates. I found a good amount of posted programs leaving in Jan/Feb for community development.

Looks pretty promising! I was nominated for Southern Africa so its narrowed down to Zambia, South Africa, Namibia, and Malawi. I'd prefer South Africa or Namibia, but I wouldn't mind going to somewhere like Thailand. Honestly I'd be happy to go anywhere, I only wish the programs were still open in countries like India or Turkey. Now back to the waiting game!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Dare I say I'm in?

Today I finally got my medical clearance! To celebrate I decided to join on the Peace Corps Blogger bandwagon, I know they have been helpful for me during the application process. I was terrified of not getting in due to a past mental health issues, but I was medically cleared! It was the only black spot on my application, getting cleared has lifted a huge weight off my shoulders, can you tell I'm excited? I wasn't supposed to be ready to depart for a longer time, but they offered an earlier departure I can't wait!

I will post my Application time line in a separate post, but in this one I'll just do a basic intro. I have been interested in the Peace Corps since High School, and it has been my plan for years to join. I recent graduated from college with a degree in Art Studio, Anthropology and Museum Studies. I have experience in a variety of positions - mental health, Aids education, teaching and fund-raising are just some. I was nominated into the community development program, for Sub-Sahara Africa leaving in January/February 2011. I'm hoping for exactly that, I'd like to leave earlier but I most likely wont be on a plane till well after that.