Why Peace Corps? And Why Bulgaria?

Trip Start Apr 14, 2006
Trip End Jul 2008

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Flag of United States  , Pennsylvania
Monday, March 20, 2006

Hey... only read this if you really want to know my complicated thought process that brought me into the peace corps in the first place. the decision was a couple years in the making. you have been warned.

i was a poli sci major going into northwestern, and by the end of my freshman year i knew i wanted to concentrate on latin america. it was a logical desicion; i'd been taking spanish since 7th grade, and the classes i'd taken so far on the region were fascinating. one of my TAs for a poli sci class called US & Latin America had done the peace corps. i thot at the time, ok i've heard of that, that sounds like a cool way to live abroad after graduation. my master plan was to study abroad in spain, get a chance to see a bit of europe, and then serve in the peace corps in a latin american country upon graduation.

studying abroad in spain only confirmed that I wanted to go abroad after graduation. before living in sevilla I really had no interest in European history - too mainstream for me. Yet living there made the history 'come alive' (ok i know that sounds awful.) but all of a sudden i actually cared about the catholic reconquista and how andalucia was under moorish rule for 700 years, which gave sevilla windy streets and mudejar architecture, some weird food combinations, arabic place and river names, and even a different blood line (darker, shorter people, some with arabic last names.) basically, while my classes at NU were interesting i decided you can't really learn about a region unless you live there.

during my junior year i looked into all kinds of organizations that would allow me to go abroad. there are a lot of choices, but the peace corps was consistently the one that suited me best. they have great health coverage, they cover all transportation costs to and from your site and living costs, and you're fully immersed in the community you serve.

i applied online in early may of my senior year, and less than a month later i had my interview at the recruiting office in Chicago. At this point they told me that based on my skills and experience I was only qualified to teach English, and that they are currently no English teaching positions in all of Latin America. At this point, I didn't know if I wanted to continue with the appication process. I took about 2 weeks to think it over, talked it over with my mom and friends, and eventually decided to continue. it is important for me to live in different parts of the world and to learn about different cultures. peace corps is a great opportunity. other organizations allow you more choice in your placement, the best seemed to be World Teach and I talked to the people there, but they require thousands of dollars of fundraising before you leave. I'm just not that nice of a person. also, at this point i think i may want to pursue a career in foreign service. i figure that being sent to Bulgaria, which I honestly could not have placed on a map in February, would be a good test to see if I will be happy living in other parts of the world that I didn't choose.

after thinking it over I decided to go ahead with the application process. In June I recieved my nomination to serve as an English teacher in Eastern Europe scheduled for April 2006. The next big hurdle was medical and dental clearance. this took some time as I spent 4 months in Spain in the middle of the process; for example I had to wait until January to get my wisdom teeth out, then wait another month until my mouth was ready for final x-rays. I got all my stuff in and was medically cleared just in time to recieve on March 1 my Invitation to serve in Bulgaria.

I leave on April 14 for staging in Arlington, VA. then we fly as a group to Bulgaria on April 16. since I recieved my Invitation I've been reading literature and histories from Bulgaria, memorizing the cyrillic alphabet, and I can now say about 10 things in Bulgaria. also doing last minute shopping, tho I'm trying to pack real light. i'm basically really excited, Bulgaria sounds like an amazing country in a really interesting part of the world, and I think I'll learn a lot and have a good time.
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