From Penn State to the Peace Corps:
Journal of a new Volunteer
Craig Maddox, who originally created this page as a class project, recently was accepted as a
Peace Corps volunteer. He will be working on an agro-forestry project in El Salvador. Since many
potential volunteers want to know what the application process is like, we thought we'd take
advantage of Craig's situation to show by example what the process can be like.
Important! This is not what it is like for everyone. I don't even know if there
is such a thing as a "typical" application process. Craig handed in his application in October of
1996, and will leave for training in June of 1997--something like 8 months later. In my case, I
filled out the application in January and was on a plane to Africa in May. You never know!
Stay tuned for further developments! We will be tracking Craig through his service, as he
sends us back missives from El Salvador.
- 16 January 1996 Met Patrick Tobin at the Volunteer Fair in the
HUB on campus and began to develop an interest in becoming a volunteer.
- 18 January Met with Patrick in his office to learn more
about Peace Corps service. Received my application.
- Spring Semester 1996 Began to develop my volunteering experiences by
volunteering at Shaver's Creek Environmental Center, S.P.E.A.K., and Habitat
For Humanity. Also, created the web page in coordination with a requirement
for my English 202 class. Kept close contact with Patrick
- August I finally began to really work on the application.
- 24 October Finally handed in my completed application
- 25 October Had interview with Patrick Tobin.
- 3 November Received Forestry/Agricultural Addendum via fax,
filled out the questions and returned it
- 12 November Received nomination packet with medical
questionnaire, reference letters, fingerprints, information update questionnaire
- 19 November Mailed my medical questionnaire back to Peace Corps
- 20 December Mailed nomination packet (four reference
letters, questionnaire) to the Evaluation Division
- 7 January 1997 Received Peace Corps medical and dental packets
- 19 February Finally mailed my completed medical and dental
packet back to Peace Corps
- 24 March Received medical and dental clearance letter
- 29 March Received reimbursement check for medical and dental
- 5 April Received my invitation for Agro-Forestry/Soil
Conservation in El Salvador. Begin training 30 June 1997 in Guatemala.
- 10 April Called main office and accepted the invitation. Had pictures taken for the
passport application and took completed passport application to post office to be mailed to Peace
- 15 April Had pictures taken for the Visa application.
- 17 April Mailed visa application to Peace Corps.
- 22 May Received my El Salvador Information Packet.
I also learned that I will be training in El Salvador, instead of Guatemala.
A training program has been established in El Salvador, recently, because my
training class will be the first class of El Salvadoran Volunteers to train
entirely in El Salvador. Anyway, I have about 33 days before I leave. I'm excited, anxious and
- 18 September I hope this letter reaches you in fine health
and spirits. I'm sorry I haven't written until now, but as you know
we have next to no free time in training. We started out with 15
people n our group (9 men and 6 women) and there are 14 because
one guy left on Tuesday. He announced that he was going to ET
["early terminate" -ed.] the day after we got back from our site
Anyway, I am doing fine. I've adjusted physically and mentally
and I'm anxious to begin my 2 year service. Training ends on
Wed. 9-24 and it will be sad to say goodbye to my family because
they took such great care of me. We swear in on Friday 9-26 at
the US Embassy which I understand is a multi-million dollar
fortress built with US tax dollars during the 12 year civil war.
On Monday 9-29, we all travel to our respective sites. My site
is in the northeast corner of the country near the Honduran
border. It's in the department of La Unión which is the hottest,
driest and rockiest of the 14 depts. I am going to live in a
small village called Los Cruces. Many of the families have
relatives who are working in the states and who send money to
them to make their lives easier. But it also makes them
dependent, lazy, and glued to their television sets which is
usually the first thing that they buy with the mney (even though
their children are malnourished and have bellies full of
amoebas, parasites and other neat stuff). None of the families
have latrines or running water. Instead they use the "great
outdoors" and get their water from springs and wells which are
most certainly contaminated with feces and pesticide runoff. I
have my work cut out for me. I am replacing another PCV who is
leaving at the end of October so I'll be able to learn from her
for a month. I'll be working with tree nurseries, composting,
soil conservation, environmental education and integrative pest
All in all, Peace Corps is what I expected it to be like (so
far), although not a day goes by that I don't see something that I've
never seen before. I'll keep you updated and look forward to hearing
from you. My new address is:
PCV Gregorio Maddox
Anamorós, La Unión
El Salvador, C.A.
(The El Salvadorans can't pronounce my name very well so I go by Gregorio)
Andy Jacobson firstname.lastname@example.org
Last modified: Mon Oct 20 14:06:18 1997