30 May 2008

On sending mail and packages

(For the people that may love me enough to send me things. Don't worry, I'm not expecting anything.)

I stole this from other blogs:

-“There are a few things you can do to help hasten and secure the passage and delivery of your mail. Have anyone sending you a care package scribble religious symbols and biblical quotes all over the outside of the box. This sounds silly, but it works. Though many of the countries in which the Peace Corps serves are largely animist in religion, superstitution runs high and even corrupt postal workers are wary of intercepting religious parcels. Along every step of the way, your mail will be subject to the whims of postal officals, customs officers, and delivery personnel who often take the liberty of rummaging through care packages in search of goodies from the U.S. If you mail is embellished with religious symbols, the odds of keeping it intact are improved. You may even want to ask the sender to write “Sister” or “Brother” before your name, the heighten the effect. Another trick is to have your mail addressed to you in red ink. I’ve been told red ink is somewhat sacrosant in many third world societies and is reserved for only the most official of letters and correspondances. Though I’m unsure about this explanation’s validity, I can vouch for the trick’s effectiveness, having seen serveral packages addressed in red ink delivered safely and expeditiously.”

-Make sure you're using Airmail
-Number your letters so I know if one has been lost
-I've heard that padded envelopes have a better chance of making it than boxes
-It can help to include "educational materials'" or "feminine hygeine products" on the package in writing that looks official

Email me your address if you want me to mail you a postcard, note, doodle, etc.

25 May 2008

What does it take to become a "notable" volunteer?

When I log into my Peace Corps online toolkit, there is a box that has a blurb about a "notable" former Peace Corps volunteer. On several occasions, Chris Matthews has popped up as the "notable" volunteer. Do you really want to be advertising that fact, Peace Corps? Is this what you're trying to say: "Join the Peace Corps and you too can become a racist, sexist, ignorant asshole."?
No thanks. And I'd appreciate if Matthews' obnoxious face were removed from my toolkit.

On a happier (scarier?) note, I am leaving for staging in DC two weeks from today. Crazy crazy crazy.

18 May 2008

My first time leaving the North American continent

I got my travel itinerary in the mail a few days ago. I'm flying from:
Washington DC to Frankfurt, Germany
Frankfurt to Zurich, Switzerland
Zurich to Dar es Salaam

18 hours and 25 minutes of flight time and about 8460 miles.

View Larger Map

I also recently discovered that my birthday is the same day that Tanzania (well, Tanganyika) became independent from Britain. I don't believe in signs. But if I did, that fact would be really cool.

04 May 2008

My Assignment

PC's official description

Program: Health Education Project
Job Title: Peace Corps Volunteer Health Education
Description: To assist the Tanzanian government to improve the health of Tanzanians by promoting healthy behavior among community members, particularly teachers and students. This will be achieved by: 1) empowering young people to make healthy decisions about their lives; 2) increasing teachers' ability to make healthy life choices; 3) increasing teachers' ability to integrate HIV/AIDS into their classrooms; and 4) helping communities access health information information about disease prevention, especially HIV/AIDS/STIs.
Pre-Service Training (in Tanzania): June 12-August 22, 2008
Dates of Service: August 24, 2008-August 27, 2010

Application Timeline

January 6: Submitted application
January 12: Received forms in mail saying PC had received my application
January 14: Called to schedule interview
January 18: Interview
January 25: Nominated to Health Extension, Sub-Saharan Africa, June 2008
January 30: Received medical kit in the mail
March 12: Mailed medical kit (note- I was kind of lazy about setting up all of my appointments- I think if I had finished my medical stuff sooner I would have gotten my assignment earlier)
March 20: Toolkit updated saying that PC had received my medical kit
March 21: Dentally cleared
March 27: Received letter from PC saying that my physical form was not legibly signed and dated and that I had to re-send it
April 2: Faxed re-signed and re-dated physical form to Peace Corps
April 3: Medically cleared
April 8: Contacted by Placement Officer about sending a final transcript to PC after graduation. Asked her about changing my departure date to a later date. She said that if I did not leave in June I would probably not be able to leave until February. Decided to keep my original departure date.
April 19: Toolkit updated saying I am an invitee
April 23: Received invitation to Tanzania
April 24: Accepted invitation