Wednesday, September 7, 2011

peace corps

At the beginning of my final semester of college I went into a panic.  I had no clue what the next step was, and I had neglected to take any of those pesky tests that you need to do little things like go to law school or business school or anything school.  I was graduating summa cum b average, and I certainly hadn't applied for any fellowships.  My majors - Religion and Creative Writing - left me few workable skills, and I had studied Latin, which gave me no useful language experience. 

So what did I do?  What any right-minded Democrat who enjoyed helping people would do!  I applied for the Peace Corps.  I also applied to be a New York City Teaching Fellow.  And, finally, to hedge my bets, I applied to the one type of school that didn't require a GRE:  Divinity School!  I applied to Union Theological Seminary and Vanderbilt Divinity School.  I was accepted to both, so that left me a little cushion.

I was also accepted to teach in a special-ed classroom as a New York City Teaching Fellow.  Making the decision between the two adventures was one of my hardest.  I could stay with my best friend of all time Amanda in the City, creating new and wilder adventures than ever, or I could go off by myself across the seven seas and a life of total immersion in a new culture.  What to do?

I chose the Peace Corps.  It seemed so exotic and fun.  Also, I was attracted to the sort of accessibility and standard-issue feel of the program.  I went to their New York recruiting and training office, I had interviews, I had blood tests (they took sooo much blood.  It was like a quart).  I learned that I have no health impairments or chronic illnesses!  Yay!  Curiously, my one strange result from the blood tests was that I have high iron, which is extremely rare for women of childbearing age.  I was all ready to go.  I set aside my fears of being a woman alone in a strange land, and I steeled myself for the shock of going to a place where I was not part of a majority group. 

I waited for my country assignment.  We graduated!  And I kept waiting.  I moved back in with my stepdad in Kansas (very temporarily of course).  And I waited more.  I went and worked for what I thought was my final summer at Mountain TOP.  I kept waiting.  Jeff and I prepared for an ultra-long distance relationship.  Then, finally, I heard the sad news:  I had no real skills for the Peace Corps.  They wanted people who had science or math or medical backgrounds, who spoke French or Spanish, who knew how to teach people English or design water filtration systems or organize community health projects.  I knew how to diagram Latin sentences and write papers on Hindu cosmology.  I was told that there would still be a placement for me, but it would be a long time coming. 

I was advised to get a job in the meantime.  So, I scanned the web and found openings for the local school district.  I could be a para-educator in an elementary school.  I had never really been around kids much, so it made me nervous, but I needed a job!  . . . . (to be continued tomorrow!)


Amanda Rose said...

Never too late to be a teaching fellow...I'm sue you could use a super fun babysitter and Pepper and Lala are destined to meet and fall in love (Chelsea-style)

Emily said...

I don't know . . . Pepper has become awfully neurotic since the baby came along. I'm not sure if she is capable of loving someone else until she works on loving herself more.