I’m sitting in the Pancake Parlour because my home WiFi connection is very weak. The Pancake Parlour’s WiFi is fast, and they tend to let me sit here all afternoon, so I’ve been coming here most days for the past month. The manager knows me by now, by sight if not by name. Since coming here I’ve learned that the Pancake Parlour is a “Melbourne Institution’- started in the 1960s (in Adelaide of all places), then quickly migrating to Victoria. They’re not a US based franchise at all, which is odd given there’s plenty about them that screams ‘US/Canada inspired’. They’ve got to be one of the few restaurant chains not supported by a major corporation that has survived so many decades…and in Australia…serving pancakes…of all things. I suppose Melbourne does kind of have the climate for it. And turns out they play nothing but soul music, which I’ve learned I can listen to for hours on end without it bothering me. I’m quite familiar with their soundtrack now, ‘signed, sealed, delivered, I’m yours’ is indelibly carved into my memory as a groove specific to the Pancake Parlour.
So I’ve submitted my application for the Peace Corps. It’s not exactly a swift process. The website estimates it takes about 8 hours to complete the online part of the application, but my guess it’s more like double that, especially if you’ve got a slow internet connection. In addition to uploading your CV, you need to fill in four or five work field entries with dates, contact names and phone numbers of previous employers over the past ten years, accounting for any gaps of more than a few months between employers. You also need to provide a minimum of three ‘recommenders’, one work, one volunteer or uni supervisor, and one friend that’s known you at least two years. You provide your recommenders email address to the Peace Corps and they send the recommender an email providing a link to an online form which they fill in. I’ve no idea what the form asks as I elected to allow my recommenders to provide their recommendations without me being privy to them. But Peter (my supervisor recommender) assured me it was a very slow site. Then once your recommenders have all submitted their recommendations, you have to provide answers to two essay questions asking you why you want to volunteer in the Peace Corps, and how you plan on managing/fulfilling the 10 key Peace Corps expectations. Fortunately my answers came out quite fast and naturally, I didn’t really need to think much, it all just flowed. Oddly enough though I ended up specifying a preference to work in China and learn Mandarin, which is strange because at the outset of the process I had no inclination in this direction at all. It must have been mulling around at the back of my mind somewhere though because at the point at which they offered the option to choose a preferred geographic location I didn’t hesitate, I just wrote ‘China’ and that I’d like to learn Mandarin. Sometimes I think these things stew in the background without your conscious awareness until it’s crunchtime and then out it comes as if from nowhere. But when I really think about it, and about the future, I think Australia’s about one step removed from being a great big cousin-province of China, so perhaps that’s why I veered so decidedly towards China and learning Chinese. But I could be placed anywhere, depending on the match between the regions needs and the skills I have to offer.
Anyway, on top of the essay questions I also I needed to provide my Social Security number, which fortunately my Dad still had in his files. If he hadn’t, and being in Australia, it might have taken a lot longer to get a hold of one. Probably would have involved at least an appointment and one or two visits to the US Embassy here I’m guessing.
Then once you get past all the initial formalities, you move onto the online medical review, which is an eye-opener in itself. It’s about ten web pages long, listing so many ailments it seems impossible not to have had at least one of them. But fortunately my bill of health is for the most part clean so hopefully I should have no trouble on that score.
So now that the online part is submitted, I wait for them to make contact via snail mail sometime in the next few weeks.