Monday, March 24, 2008

Team Tobin

It's All Alaska Sweepstakes Time!

Starting Tuesday afternoon (more like Tuesday evening considering how Tobin Time affects all estimated departures and arrivals), my dad and I will be the checkers at Checkpoint Topkok. Unfortunately, that means this blog will not be updated until my return (hopefully Sunday). Sorry...

So, what's really neat Checkpoint Topkok? My mom and dad worked the same checkpoint in 1983. At the time of the race, my mom was 3 months pregnant with me! Now, almost 25 years later, it's up to my dad and I to carry on the family tradition of Tobins at Topkok.

For those who love a good mad dash, get your race updates at!

Another PC Process Update

I love email. It provides instant gratification. I also love that the Peace Corps uses email to keep me updated as to where I am in the PC process. I can only imagine the frustration former prospective PC Volunteers felt waiting for their snail mail letter to tell them if they had been nominated or not. That would drive even the most patient person insane.

So, the latest PC process news? I recently received an email from Anastasia, my new PCMI Liaison (the Chad is no more). Anastasia informed me that my paperwork has been sent to the Peace Corps Headquarters in Washington, D.C. and that I have been nominated to be considered for programs beginning in July, August or September. The only thing holding me up now is completing my Medical and Legal Reviews.

Pretty radtacular huh?!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Pack It Up

A really good travel pack is worth its weight in ivory.

I am unsure as to the exact weight restrictions, but the PC Volunteer blogs I have read indicate its 80 lbs. That means I have to pack quite a bit of stuff into a relatively small space, not to mention that space needs to stand up to extreme wear and tear.

Good news is I already have a super travel pack. Unfortunately, it's a discontinued model from REI. But - to help facilitate this post, let's take a gander at another great pack: the Osprey Waypoint 80 Travel Pack.

First off, you get two packs for the price of one. The pack features a removable day pack which combined with the main pack, gives you 4,900 cubic inches of space (women's medium).

Secondly, mesh pockets, hidden compartments and internal clothing straps keep everything in place.

And the best part?! The backpack straps conveniently zip into the back panel, allowing you to check your bag with ease and efficiency.

Those outdoor gear designers are geniuses.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

I Can't Feel My Feet

For those who didn't know, I am working for Kawerak, Inc. on a State grant called the Youth First Initiative. The goal of the grant is to assist youth in the Bering Strait region in identifying career goals and post-secondary training/ educational opportunities.

The grant requires me to travel to all 15 Bering Strait School District school sites. That means over the next few weeks, I am going to spend a lot of time in very little planes (shout out to Bering Air!). I am also going to live in recycled and recyclable Patagonia Capilene 4 long underwear, small outdoor business Solstice snowpants and size 5 bunny boots.

What is my point? I hope the Peace Corps sends me somewhere cold. I am spending a small fortune on devices aimed at keeping my toesies warm and my hiney heated.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

My Biggest Peace Corps' Fear - Resolved

Thanks to everyone who provided their suggestions and insight on what I should do about my biggest Peace Corps' fear - my hair. Well, everyone except Shannon. I am not going to shave my head, Shannon.

I will (drum roll)...

Grow out my natural hair!

I am not exactly sure what my natural hair looks like, but we will all find out together. Standard rules still apply: No touching my hair and no, I will not wear an Afro like Angela Davis (stop asking Matt).

Want to learn more about Black Hair Care? Visit my favorite hair blogs:

The Coarse Hair Diary
Mane & Chic
Healthy Textures

Monday, March 17, 2008

PC Process Update

Put a fork in me, I'm done!

Well, I am done with the Medical Review - which, I think at some point one doctor did stick a fork in me or at least two immunization needles at the same time.

Now comes that second and third waiting periods. First, I wait on the laboratory reports to be completed and then I copy, seal, and send all my Medical Review paperwork certified mail to Washington D.C. After that, I bunker down and wait again.

O! I've got good news! My official acceptance letter into the Peace Corps Master's International program arrived. I'm in (well, at least I have a bunny-booted foot in the door).

(the pictures are of Rhu during our Homer Team vacation. He was done by the evening of the first day!)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Shock & Awe

Frequently Asked Question #8: Well, that's going to be different. You ready for it?

Answer: Yes!

One of the neatest things about the Peace Corps is their effort to prepare Volunteers for service. Not only did my recruiter (remember The Chad?) ask about my past experience with culture adaptation and diversity, but my ToolKit (an online service provided to potential Volunteers) provides many tutorials and fun quizzes aimed at helping me learn about my style of learning and the cultural experience that awaits me.

Not to mention, The Chad put me in contact with several current and past PC Volunteers. These awesome individuals have answered my countless questions and described their experiences, which helps paint me a picture of service.

All this is great preparation for the adventure of a lifetime. I would be lying if I said I was not a little scared, but my apprehension only enhances my anticipation and excitement.

So - What do you think I will encounter in terms of cultural differences?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Brr...It's Cold Up Here

There must be some sun rays in the atmosphere.

That's right. Just some. Not many. Only a few.

It's cold here in Nome. As Iditarod comes to an end, Nome gets ready for the 100th anniversary of the first major long distance dog sled race known to man - the All Alaska Sweepstakes. This anniversary race guarantees a first place purse of $100,000 and with the official start in less than two weeks, this small town prepares for a fast, fun and freezing commemorative event.

Of course, my dad signed us up to manage a checkpoint out in the middle of nowhere (checkpoint Topkok). For 4 days, I am going to sit in the middle of a frozen lake and freeze. That's why I went online and found a pair of Sierra Design's Classic Booties. These cozy toe keepers won't let me down in sub-zero degree weather. Yippie for Moose Jaw [dot] com.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Strike A Pose

I like pictures. I used to take a lot until the last Team vacation in Homer. That’s when some beach comber combed our beach and took my camera.

Now, I am camera-less…which is a great excuse to buy a camera! The important thing to remember when searching for the “perfect” Peace Corps' digital camera is to not buy anything you won’t miss if it grows legs and walks out the door. In addition, it has to upload to any computer (because who knows if and what type of computer access one may have).

Thus, I have found this: Canon - PowerShot 7.1MP Digital ELPH Camera (Silver). 98 Best Buy consumers rate this puppy at 4.8 stars and I like it because it uses a rechargeable lithium-ion battery.

I can feel the scrapbooker inside of me jumping for joy.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Shots Hurt.

Matt asked for a list of all my vaccinations & shots. At this time, I have not received any vaccinations, but I did have to confirm all my immunizations were up-to-date. Those included:
Td booster (within 5 years)
Polio booster (after age 18)
MMR Booster (only need 1 in a lifetime)

Other immunizations I had to report where:
Yellow Fever
Hep B (1)
Hep B (2)
Hep B (3)
Hep A (1)
Hep A (2)

For those who are thinking about visiting me, check with your health care provider and get that nifty immunization records print-out. It will tell you if you are due for a shot.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Where Are You Going?

I do not know, but I can tell you the options.

1. Caribbean: Eastern Caribbean, Dominican Republic, Jamaica
2. Central America & Mexico (Most volunteers have at least 2 years of college Spanish): Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama
3. South America(Most volunteers have at least 2 years of college Spanish): Bolivia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname
4. Eastern Europe & Central Asia: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Macedonia, Moldova, Romania, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Turkmenistan
5. North Africa & Middle East: Jordon, Morocco
6. Africa: Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Senegal, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia
7. Asia: Cambodia, China, Mongolia, Philippines, Thailand
8. Pacific Islands: Fiji, Kiribati, Micronesia and Palau, Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu

If you had your choice, where would you go?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

I Can't See! PC Process Update

I am just being overly dramatic here. I can see. It just hurts that the overcast skies of Nome are causing my eyes to scream out in agony as sharp pinpoints of pain stab into my pupils.

If you have not guessed yet, I had my eyes dilated today. As mentioned in the last PC Process Update, I am required to have an optometrist fit me for glasses as part of my Medical Review. As with many things, I could not sneak in with a quick appointment, but had the whole shebang.

The good news, I was able to order another pair of glasses for my impending departure. I cannot lose two sets of glasses, can I?

Monday, March 3, 2008

PCMI What?

I get a lot of questions about where am I going to serve, am I scared, what am I going to do, will I get paid, yada yada yada. Nobody asks me how I earn master's credits by serving in the Peace Corps and when I mention that wonderful fact, people's eyes glaze over. No more I say! Here is all you need to know about the Peace Corps Master's International program (PCMI):

Each college administers their PCMI program differently, so your first step is to check out the Peace Corps' website and see if the college of your choice offers a PCMI program. If they do, apply first to the graduate program and tell the admission staff you are interested in becoming a PCMI student. They will direct you in the appropriate steps.

UAF's program (offered through Natural Resources or Rural Development) is pretty straightforward. 1. Apply to the graduate school. 2. Tell the department you are interested in the PCMI program. 3. Set up your Graduate Committee and develop your Graduate Study Plan (GSP), incorporating your service. 4. Implement your GSP.

If the college does not offer the program, encourage them to become a partner school or switch colleges! It's that simple.

(I know it is not that simple, but I wish it was)