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The Toughest Job You'll Ever Apply For...

I didn't just jump into Africa. In fact, I spent a summer quarter earning college credit, teaching in Swaziland, S. Africa. I was scheduled to stay 6 weeks, but after 4 weeks I was SO homesick.

On the 4th of July we went to the Embassy. There, I met several Peace Corps volunteers. I asked them how they could stand it. Weren't they homesick? But they told me they weren't. That when you join the Peace Corps you know it is for 2 years, so you are in a different mind set. I found this hard to believe, but never forgot it.

My next trip overseas was to Belize, in Central America. It was beautiful, yes. I loved it but hated it. I loved the trip itself and the country, but I couldn't stand cockroaches the size of mice crawling all over my pillow. And I remember sitting on the back porch of this hovel they call an hotel. It was facing the river/sewage system. A huge rat swam over to our porch, crawled out of the sewage, shook itself off like a dog, and walked right by my feet! AHHHHHHH!!!!!! I was terrified.

I also ran into a woman who was in the Peace Corps. She was walking a 1/2 mile to the river to get a bucket of water for washing. It was at that moment I realized I could never join the Peace Corps. No Way! How could they do it?

Well, time heals all wounds, and after a couple of years I began to think about the Peace Corps again. It was my last quarter of college. I was student teaching and didn't know WHAT I was going to do with my future. I didn't want to teach Elementary School, that was for sure. But what to do?

I called the Peace Corps and had my preliminary interview. They give you a small one, just to send you the info.
I passed interview #1 and was sent the application.

When I received the application I was overwhelmed by the size of it. Pages and pages. References, transcripts, volunteer work. They wanted it all. I gave up and threw the info in a drawer. I graduated and if you've read about my past jobs I went from camp counselor to phone sex operator to cocktail waitress. And that's where I was, 1 year later, when I took the application out of the drawer.

It wouldn't be that bad. Would it? Couldn't be worse then the waitressing gig I had at that time. I wanted a change and some adventure. So I filled the thing out. I had some problems though. I didn't have any professor recommendations, so I fudged it. I wrote my own, had some people sign them, and gave old phone numbers. I also fudged on the volunteer hours.

Apparently, Peace Corps doesn't check these things out to throughly because I was given a second interview.

Before the interview my friend Kenny told me HIS friend had been the PC and had quit. Quit? I didn't even think that was possible. So, in my interview I asked about that. Could people really quit? I just assumed we where there until it was finished and that was that.

The interviewer freaks out and says I can't ask about quitting, and know she has to mark it down in my record that I asked about quitting. I was a bit taken aback and angry. What is this the Gestapo? I can't ask any questions? But I finally got her to relax, and I assured her I wasn't thinking about quitting.

then the medical examination. Which I welcomed, because the US Government paid for a complete check-up and I had no insurance at the time. I spent the entire day at the VA hospital. I saw the doctor, the gyno, the dentist and had blood work done. I was found fit for service although I was worried that my weight might prevent me from getting in. I wrote an extra note explaining how the extra weight was all muscle (lies, all lies!) and sent a picture of me during my thinner days.

Finally, I was in!

Next they asked my country or region of choice. I chose 1: Middle East 2: Eastern Europe 3: South America.

So they tell me, they have a last minute opening in W. Africa, The Gambia. I could go now or I could wait an indefinite amount of time until something I wanted came up. I agreed to go. And a month later, on July 3, 1994 I was in Boston, MA for an initial 3 day pre-orientation.

When I got there....



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Email: thefattraveler@hotmail.com