Peace Corps Videos

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A Fiji in Fiji?

When I joined my college fraternity, I didn't know very much about Fiji except that it was the nickname for my fraternity, Phi Gamma Delta. And of course, I knew it was an island somewhere in the Pacific. Each year, my fraternity celebrated "Fiji Island", billed as the best party each year on campus at West Virginia University. We built a lagoon, a waterfall, tropical huts and dressed like Fiji islanders, or at least how we thought a Fijian would dress. Mostly it was about drinking, but was always a lot of fun.

Now the real Fiji is top of mind again. I've spent a good deal of time looking at different blogs from current and former Peace Corps Volunteers since I decided to fill out my application. I have always thought that Vanuatu was where I would be headed as a volunteer. Now, I believe the most likely place could be Fiji. I've looked at the start days for different volunteer groups based on their blog entries. Here is what I discovered:

East Timor July
Fiji June
Kiribati October
Malaysia Unknown
Micronesia November
Palau October
Papua New Guinea January
Samoa October
Tonga July
Vanuatu April

UPDATE: See later post for more information on this.

It is also possible that it could be Malaysia. I couldn't find much about that area, however, on the Peace Corps web page, they link Micronesia and Palau together, which may mean they both depart in October.

Peace Corps service was stopped in Fiji because of political unrest in 1998 but was restored in 2003 once the country settled down. According to one blog, the Fiji dates from last year align almost exactly with the dates I received from my recruiter for this year.

I'm hopeful that I will receive medical clearance this week. I am supposed to call her on Wednesday if I do not hear by then. I hope that an invitation is issued shortly after that.
I found some new links. The first is the Fiji Welcome book provided by the Peace Corps to all new volunteers in Fiji. The second is from another blog but shows a packing list and photo of what one guy took with him to the South Pacific.

If I do end up in Fiji, I would be "A Fiji in Fiji".

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

I’ve got a date—actually several dates!!

I had a great conversation with my recruiter Tricia today. I’ve been a bit nervous about my status with the Peace Corps because it has been months since I have had any correspondence from them. Actually more than two months. The Peace Corps web page says it usually takes 4-6 weeks to get medical clearance. It has been two months since the Peace Corps said it received my Medical information and almost three since I sent everything to them. Much longer than the promised 4-6 weeks. Of course I also have to remind myself that I am dealing with a Government Organization. This is not TV, where we turn everything around in a couple of hours and then go on to our next project.

Tricia told me that NO ONE has been invited yet to participate in the program to which I have been nominated. That means I’m not the only one waiting. She also says that it is not unusual that I have not received Medical Clearance. She says while it would be great if the applications were handled on a first in, first out basis, in reality, they prioritize the applications based on the departure date of the program. Some people wait to the last minute and they will get reviewed before others if their programs departs sooner. That is apparently what is happening with my application. Because they are not yet inviting people

Now to the dates I mentioned. Tricia said I should expect to hear something by February 28th about my medical application. She knows the person reviewing the information and says it is too soon for her to call yet. If I have not heard by the 28th, she will call and get an update. She also told me that based on my qualifications; she would expect that I would get an invitation almost immediately after getting my medical clearance. She says there is no guarantee but that I am “extremely competitive” and should get one of the first invitations. All invitations for my program will be issued by April 21st. My program will leave six weeks after that, which is around June 3rd. Even though I don’t have medical clearance yet or even an invitation, I am very optimistic about my status. It was great to talk with her and she told me I was welcome to call her every week until I got my invitation.

I did ask her about my Shrimp and Lobster allergy, which is really the only thing from a medical perspective that could cause me a problem. She said that even though it is a minor allergy, someone might decide that if an area has a diet high in shellfish that they should not send me there. She then added that when she served in Samoa they almost never had shrimp or lobster and that is the same region where I have received my nomination. She laughed and said she wished she had gotten Lobster in the Peace Corps!!

Joining the Peace Corps is a major life change for me. Last week, I went to the Super Bowl, something many people never get a chance to do. I sat in a covered seat and watched as thousands who paid thousands of dollars for tickets got rained on. It was a really fun experience to get to go.

During my career, I’ve covered hurricanes, space shuttle launches, World Series, political conventions, Presidents and Popes, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and many other events. I’ve also met many fascinating people along the way. Those are events and people I will always remember. That’s the fun part of being in the TV business. And I would not trade my experiences for anything. However, it is very obvious to me that it is time to leave TV. I have no ill will toward my present company, where I have worked for the past 15 years, but the job and the TV industry are no longer for me.
Just this week, it was announced that our station manager was being shifted to a new corporate job and my boss, the woman who hired me, would no longer be the General Manager of our TV station. (She had carried both the title of GM of my station and President of our Broadcast Division, now she will just be division President). That means my station will be getting a new boss. I’ve had several people ask me since the announcement if I will be taking over the station. It is quite flattering but the answer is NO! A couple of years ago I would have been beating down the door to get the job, now I realize it is not for me. And I also don’t think I would get it even if I was interested. I’m sure that when it is announced that I am leaving people will wonder if it is because of the management changes at the station. Regardless of what is said, many will believe that. However, I am so sure that I want to do something else, that if they offered to double my salary and gave me the job, I would still turn it down. After today, I really believe the Peace Corps is going to happen for me. It may happen in two weeks or it could take two months, but when it does, I will be ready.