It’s been three months since I accepted the invitation to serve in Zambia, Africa with the United States Peace Corps, and what a roller coaster it’s been since then. Upon accepting an invitation to serve, Peace Corps Volunteers have a huge laundry list of things to get done (and to be cleared) in order to depart for their country of service. And after three months of seemingly endless paperwork, multiple doctor and dentist visits, and a handful of conflicting thoughts and emotions, I’ve finally reached the countdown to Staging, the term used for Peace Corps departures.
I kept a mini-blog on my iPhone to capture highlights these past three months, which I’ve transferred onto this blog below. Even though it was all in all a stressful process, I’m glad that I was able to get everything done in a timely manner and that I’m physically ready to serve in Zambia.
December 29: Accepted invitation to serve in Zambia, Africa!
December 29: Peace Corps Pre-Staging tasks assigned.
January 8: Finished my first Peace Corps Pre-Staging task today. Went to Oakland to the Northern California Peace Corps Office and got my fingerprinting and background check information done and mailed out to Peace Corps Headquarters.
January 13: First visit to Dr. Rubin to start on my medical tasks for the Peace Corps. I can only imagine his face when he sees all this paperwork!
January 13: Um, yeah. 5 different shots/injections and 7 tubes of blood drawn at the Kaiser Laboratory. And it’s still not over. Ow.
January 15: TB Test read. No bump! One more medical task complete.
January 30: Passport and visa applications finally completed (so confusing, btw) and mailed out to Peace Corps Headquarters for processing.
February 2: Test results and lab work came back in the form of a bunch of acronyms and numbers, but as Dr. Rubin summarizes, “Your lab report came back normal. Everything looks good. You can come by to my office tomorrow to pick up the initial paperwork.”
February 3: Picked up the first batch of paperwork from Dr. Rubin’s office today. One step closer in finishing my Medical Applicant Portal (MAP) tasks! About 1/3 completed!
February 3: Started, finished, and passed my first two training modules for the Peace Corps in the online Learning Space.
February 4: Interviewed by Peace Corps West today about what motivated me to apply to join the Peace Corps and about my feelings and thoughts on serving in Zambia in June.
February 13: The dreaded dentist visit is today, as part of my Peace Corps medical/dental clearance. Filling two cavities and yanking a molar out. Here we go!
February 13: Norco is my new best friend.
February 18: Finally finished all Pre-Staging tasks, including all of my medical tasks for the Peace Corps today! Fingers crossed that I’m all in the clear and get final clearance to serve in Zambia!
February 19: Good news! Pre-service Screening Nurse has preliminarily cleared and approved all of my medical tasks. Fingers still crossed!
February 19: Cost shares were mailed out today to the Peace Corps Headquarters. This whole medical/dental clearance process has cost me a total of $985, and I’m hoping to see $120 back in my bank account sooner than later through reimbursement. $120 is better than nothing, and I’m glad I’ll be physically ready for Zambia come June.
February 23: I GOT FINAL MEDICAL CLEARANCE FOR THE PEACE CORPS!!!
March 9: Remember that interview? Well, it was published. In a press release. Today. Yeah.
March 27: Guess who’s Peace Corps cost shares came in today? Yay!
March 29: Moved back home to San Jose today to spend my last two months in the states with the fam bam. It feels good to be home.
My Staging date is June 8, 2015, exactly 10 weeks from today. One of the things that is making me super anxious is that packing list that I’ll soon have to face. For those who don’t know me well, I don’t really shop much or have experience in shopping for trips, so doing so and packing for a 27 month mission to Africa is an extremely daunting (and scary) task to me. Good thing I have two best friends who are pros at it and can help me.
The next 10 weeks will be the beginning of the biggest transition and change in my life to date. The hardest hitting of this transition and change will meet me in the form of a new culture and lifestyle in Zambia, but for now, focusing on a smaller transition and change with my new commute from San Jose to San Francisco will keep me busy and sane, providing me with plenty of time to contemplate, plan, and prepare for Staging come June.
Let the countdown begin!
“Do not go gentle into that good night,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”