It’s been over 4 months since I last shared a Peace Corps update. The main reason for that is I’ve had very little news. The one real update is that I now have legal clearance (yay!). I’m still waiting on medical clearance. I submitted all of my tasks to the medical portal (more on that later) by mid-April. The average wait time for medical clearance is 3 months after tasks have been submitted, which would mean mid-July. I leave in 62 days, and my submitted forms are still not under review by a pre-service nurse. While that might sound nerve-racking (and it is), it’s totally normal. I should (hopefully) know for sure by 30 days prior to departure, as that’s when staging information begins. However, Peace Corps HQ is a little backed up with everything so it could be a little later. Right now, no news means good news. I’ve reached out to a few fellow Peace Corps invitees and alumni, and they’ve reassured me that I have no reason to worry but to just be patient and continue preparing for service as usual.
So, now that I’ve shared that little update, I figured I’d answer some of the frequently asked questions I’ve gotten about my application process and service.
Medical Clearance Process:
A lot of people have asked me what the medical clearance process entails. Additionally, a lot of people have asked why the Peace Corps medical clearance process is so intense. The main reason that it’s such an intensive process is that I will be living in a developing country for over two years, with little access to Western medicine. No, the Peace Corps is not trying to make it harder for me nor is it just government bureaucracy. The process is crazy intense because the Peace Corps is crazy intense. They need to know that I can handle the physical and mental demands of service without needing medical attention for a recurring issue. If I had to be taken out of my service site for medical reasons, it would not only be inconvenient for me and the Peace Corps, but it could also potentially damage the relationships with the host country and locals at the site. They are being thorough for a good reason.
Now, onto all the crazy fun things I had to do for medical clearance. One of my favorite (sarcasm) parts of medical clearance was that one week I spent over 20 hours in various doctor’s offices completing forms and getting tests done. I’ve had to fill out around 5 questionnaires about my health, I’ve had about 9 titers of blood drawn, 3 shots, and a few visits to my regular medical providers (doctors & dentist). The hardest part for me, though, wasn’t the poking and prodding. I don’t really mind shots, doctors, or dentist offices. What I struggled with was actually getting all of the forms. I really wish I would have started earlier on requesting my medical records, and especially getting my vaccination records. And please, don’t ask me how much the whole process costs. I know insurance did cover some of it (especially the routine stuff), but much of it was out of pocket. Suffice to say it was expensive.
I’ve also been getting a lot of questions about what my time will be like in-country. The short answer is, I don’t know, and I won’t know until after I’ve been there for a few months. What I do know is that I’ll be in Mozambique teaching Secondary English. And honestly, that’s about it. Below, I’ll answer some of the more common questions and explain why I don’t actually know the answers. 🙂
How many people will be going with you? I really don’t know how many people will be going. Many of us are still waiting on legal and/or medical clearance. It’ll probably be a fairly large group. When Moz 27 was sworn in, there were 63 volunteers. I’ll be in Moz 29, which is the 29th group of PCVs (Peace Corps Volunteers) to go to Mozambique.
Where will you live? Initially, during my pre-service training (aka PST: language, culture, job skills, etc. with all the other PCVs in my cohort), I’ll live with a host family of Mozambique nationals in Namaacha, which is by the northern border of Mozambique, Swaziland, and South Africa. During PST, I’ll be assigned my site based on my skills and preferences. It could be anywhere in Mozambique.
Who will you live with? During PST, I’ll live with a host family. Once I’m to my site, I might live by myself, with another PCV, or with the Mozambique teacher counterpart. Regardless of where I live or who I live with, it will be vetted by PC to be safe and secure.
How far will you be from x? Because I don’t know where my site will be yet, I don’t know how far I’ll be from the capital, an airport, the ocean, or anything.
Will you have vacation time to visit the US? Yes and no. I will earn two vacation days a month. I will only be able to take vacation when school is not in session. And, any vacation I take will be at my own expense. Flights from Moz to the US are expensive, so I probably won’t be back until after service.
Will you be able to have visitors from the US? Yes, I will be allowed to have visitors, but again, they must pay for their travel, and they may only visit while I have vacation time.
What if *insert disaster here* happens? If there a natural disaster, war, civil unrest, or any other emergency, the Peace Corps will do their best to act preemptively and get all volunteers to a safe location. Depending on the event, it could mean just a temporary leave, or it could mean that my service would end early. Either way, the Peace Corps’ top priority is volunteer safety.
Alright, so those are the major questions I get. I apologize for the lack of *real* update, but trust me, I’m much more anxious about it! Right now, I’m just trusting God and being patient with PC HQ. Prayers and well-wishes are always appreciated. I’m definitely getting excited though! If you have any other questions about my PC Journey, please ask below in the comments! Thanks so much for reading!