I had my interview with Peace Corps returned volunteer KF on Friday night via a webex internet meeting conference.
My interviewer K is in Providence, Rhode Island and I’m in Melbourne, so the interview was 7:30am her time, 9:30pm my time. Fortunately my mobile phone service provider has enabled tethering on my mobile phone so I was able to hook my PC in to do the interview. I wasn’t sure the tethered internet connection was going to be fast enough but it worked well, despite a short time delay in seeing her speak and hearing her words. We had a quite long chat, about an hour or so. She asked me all sorts of questions from whether I would have any objection to modifying my dress slightly to adhere to the community norms to how I would deal with the three month, six hours a day intensive language training Peace Corps provides prior to service, to whether I’m currently involved in a romantic relationship and how I would handle being distanced from family and friends for so long. We also covered food, religion, privacy, being a ‘novelty’ and the object of curiosity within the community and what I’m going to do with my dog if and when I go. She spoke of her experience working in the Philippines and the ‘cheese flavoured ice cream’ they have there. She said there’s a saying in the Philippines, the diet consists of ‘rice & fish…and fish & rice’. She said if she hadn’t liked fish or rice it would have been a very long 27 months. She asked if I had any questions and I mentioned that I’d done some internet research on the Peace Corps and found the story of a Peace Corps volunteer that had been murdered in sub-saharan Africa. The article seemed to focus on what it claimed was Peace Corps trying to whitewash the incident. She said that in response to the murder congress had recently passed new legislation in the service of protecting volunteers. K said she’d read the new Act and, having worked in the field of protective services for women, she was convinced it wasn’t just paying lip service to the incident, and that they’d re-allocated significant funding to additional safety training for volunteers. She said she’d spoken to other volunteers working in the same region and their biggest fear was that the incident would cause future volunteers to be afraid of working in the region, as their host families were all wonderful, the incident was rare and volunteers in the region are quite safe. That was reassuring. K seemed quite comfortable all efforts have been taken to ensure volunteers safety and that that region was not one to be concerned about. And she reiterated that she felt a lot safer in her host community than she would in many downtown cities in the USA, what with the proliferation of guns. She has a point.
Anyway I enjoyed the interview and of course as soon as it finished I thought of about a dozen more questions. But overall I think we covered the basics. She said she’d look into what they have available and see if she could find an assignment for me, although she did sound somewhat doubtful, so it may take a while. Perhaps I’ll be lucky and get my first preference China. I guess we’ll see. I’m excited at any rate and looking forward to seeing what the future holds, fingers crossed it’s positive. She said she’d get back to me in a few weeks, so now I wait.