Thursday, February 28, 2008

Peace Corps Process Update

I have received my Medical Review packet, read the paperwork twice and have set up the appointments necessary to complete this step in the Peace Corps process.

The Peace Corps does not skimp on information gathering and I can tell that this endeavor may be a doozie.

Basic information requested by the PC include a complete physical (involving lab and blood work) and dental evaluation. Other information may be requested depending on the applicant. An example would be an eye evaluation because the prospective volunteer wears glasses, which I do on occasion.

I hope to have all my appointments and paperwork completed by March 18. Until then, I will be working at the Nome pool (part time) and for Kawerak (full time), not to mention Iditarod starts this week!

p.s. I added a new link in the Greenie section entitled Enviroblog.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

My Biggest PC Fear - Revisited

I have switched my biggest Peace Corps' fear to contracting a tapeworm.

After reading Lonely Planet's Volunteer: A Traveler's Guide To Making A Difference Around the World, I realized I may encounter many different parasites, viruses, bugs and ickies. Being the scaredy pants that I am, I have embarked on a mission to read as much about tapeworms as I can to:
1. Prevent;
2. Treat; and
3. Finish my freaking out before I leave.

After reviewing the MayoClinic's online article regarding Tapeworm Infection, I have come to the conclusion that I either already have a tapeworm or I cannot ensure I will not contract a tapeworm.

The good news, tapeworms are normally harmless and do not pose too much of a risk. The bad new, I may have a freeloader or two in my body for at maximum 20 years.

Oh well, good thing I have a couple of months to get used to the idea of having a pet tapeworm.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

What To Do?

So, what does a PC Volunteer do?

There are seven broad areas for service:

1. Education, Youth Outreach & Community Development
2.Business Development
3. Environment
4. Agriculture
5. Health
7. Information Technology

My preference would be to serve in the area of Business Development, specifically Nongovernmental Organization Development; however, my actual service area will be picked by the University of Alaska Fairbank's Rural Development department and will complement my educational goals within my master's program.

Pack It

Have you ever tried to pack 2 years worth of stuff into two backpacks? I haven't. I am a little scared about trying, but with these bad boys, Eagle Creek Pack-It Cubes, I think this feat can be done with relative ease.

Eagle Creek's Pack-It system provides me, the user, with the unique ability to store my packing essentials in convenient pouches, cubes and folders. These nifty little devices separate my shirts from my socks and keep my lotion from exploding all over my pants.

The best part is that with these handy helpers, I won't have to tear apart my luggage searching for my favorite shirt. Everything will be easily accessible and quick to find. Yippie for inventions of convenience.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Friends & Family FAQ

1. Do you know where you are going?
Nope. I will not know until the Peace Corps invites me to serve.

2. What made you decide to join the Peace Corps?

I love volunteering. Serving in the Peace Corps has always been a dream of mine. Plus, as a student in UAF's Master's in Rural Development program, I receive credit for my service. Thus, I am actually in the Peace Corps Master's International program (PCMI).

3. Is it safe?

Yes and no.
The Peace Corps prepares each Volunteer for service by providing them with the tools necessary to integrate into their host community and minimize safety risks. Many factors contribute to the amount of risk a Volunteer assumes when beginning service. Personally, I am doing everything I can to prepare myself for my hopeful departure by meeting and emailing past volunteers, emailing current volunteers and using my Peace Corps Toolkit (an online "everything you need to know" service for potential Volunteers). You can learn more about Volunteer safety by visiting the PC's safety section "What About Safety".

4. What if you get sick?

Don't worry. I bought a book entitled The Pocket Doctor: A Passport to Healthy Travel. I am all set.
Just kidding.
The Peace Corps provides a medical unit and provider in each country open to receiving Volunteers. Additionally, if anything bad should happen, the Peace Corps will send me to a facility (either in the country or out) that can treat me.

5. How will we stay in touch?
Easily. Email is pretty universal and I will be updating this blog as regularly as I can. Once I know more about the country I will be serving in, I can tell you more about mailing restrictions, if I will have a telephone and visiting opportunities.

Any more questions? Add a comment and I will answer them in my next FAQ (after the Medical Review is complete).

Thursday, February 21, 2008

And the Oscar Goes To...

I've been officially nominated (picture me doing my signature happy dance - Making the Pizza)!

So, now what do I do?
1. Medical Review
2. Legal Qualification
3. Placement

These activities take anywhere from 3 to 9 months to complete (depending on how soon I can schedule the necessary examinations with Norton Sound Health Corp). Once I am cleared to go, I wait for an invitation to begin to serve. That takes anywhere from 1 to 7 months. Looks like you all are stuck with me for awhile longer!

Remember: I will not know where I am going until I am placed, so please stop asking me Matt, Sarah, Jarod, Dad, Mom, Liana, Random Tidal Wave Check-Out Guy...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

They keep going and going and...

PC Volunteer blogs agree: Bring stamps.

Introduced in 2007, the Forever Stamp offers the unique ability of maintaining its validity in our postal system indefinitely. In other words, it never expires.

Right now, you can purchase the Forever Stamp in a booklet of 20 or 5 booklets equaling 100 stamps for the low, low price of $0.41 a stamp.

Starting May 12, you can buy that same stamp for $0.42 each.

The only downside, the stamp is an unimaginative Liberty Bell. Now...who do I write to ask for a Forever Stamp depicting Patrick Stewart? I would keep those bad boys FOREVER.

Leavin' on a Jet Plane

It's that time. I am off to Nome for the next several months to prepare for my hopeful entrance into the Peace Corps. Thank you to everyone who made my last weekend in A-Town so wonderful.

PC Process Update

I had my follow-up interview today. I think the Peace Corps really has this recruitment thing down. The Chad provided me with additional information, a review of the remaining Peace Corps entrance process and asked follow-up questions to concerns I had voiced during our first interview. I am so very excited!

The Chad indicated that I should receive my Medical Review packet in the mail in the next few weeks. I look forward to keeping you all updated as to how painful my vaccinations feel.

Monday, February 18, 2008

To Smell or Not to Smell

Not all organic products are created equal. This first installment of In Preparation reviews two seemingly natural/ organic deodorants and their affects on you and me.

Tom’s of Maine Deodorant Stick Honeysuckle

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), Tom’s Deodorant has a moderate hazard rating (4) and contains ingredients that have been linked to violations/ restrictions/ warnings, allergies/immunotoxicity, neurotoxicity, irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs) and enhanced skin absorption.

Makers of Tom’s, the Colgate-Palmolive Company have not signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics.

The good news: Tom’s does not use mineral oil, petroleum or Aluminum Zirconium Trichlorohydrex Gly which are some pretty harmful ingredients.

Jason Natural Cosmetics Naturally Fresh Unscented Stick

According to the EWG, Jason’s Unscented Stick has a low hazard rating (1) and contains ingredients that have been linked to violations/ restrictions/ warnings and multiple, additive exposure sources with contamination concerns.

Makers of Jason’s, the Hain Celestial Group have signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics.

After reviewing the company in The Blue Pages: A Directory of Companies Rated by Their Politics and Practices, I agree with the statement that the Hain Celestial Group is one of the leading organic and natural food and personal care product companies worldwide.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

My Biggest Peace Corps' Fear

No, it's not insurgents, violence against women, racism or infectious diseases.

It's how I am going to style my black hair.

I know that sounds silly, but I think my hair is a big deal. Well, it could be a big deal if I stopped straightening it, which I may do. Then, it will be a REALLY big deal.

In my quest to figure out a solution to the hair problem (which, as silly as it sounds, causes me to lose sleep), I have used the powers of Blackle (the energy saving version of Google) to find the following sites. Additionally, any suggestions you may have would be greatly appreciated!

The Coarse Hair Diary

Mane & Chic

Top Sista Sites

Friday, February 15, 2008

What are you...I mean: Where are you going?

The most common question people ask me has been replaced with: Do you know where you're going?

Nope. I have no idea where I am going. I have yet to be nominated. Currently, I am in the first "waiting" period. From what I can tell, there are at least three (3) waiting periods.

The process goes something like this (Warning: This may be a bit different as I my service is part of UAF's Master's International Program):

1. Apply online (I think you can apply by hard copy, but that would not be environmentally friendly).

2. Get recruited (my recruiter is "the Chad". His name is Chad, get it?).

3. Waiting Period 1 - Additional paperwork is sent to "the Chad". He decides if and where to nominate me to service.

4. Does that hurt? - Medical Review time.

5. Waiting Period 2 - Medical Review papers go to Washington.

6. Am I in or am I out or am I in with limitations? - Washington decides on where to send me in light of any medical limitation.

7. Waiting Period 3 - Anticipation builds as I wait for my assignment.

Anymore questions?

(p.s. I posted some Peace Corps' websites to help answer any lingering questions. My suggestion: Check 'em out before you ask me. Maybe they will entice you to service!)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

In the beginning...

Löki started a blog.

I know what you are all thinking and I promise I will not post my recent revelations regarding Star Trek. My blogging intent is to provide all my friends and family with updates about my newest adventures.

As many of you know, I am leaving Anchorage for Nome to prepare myself for (I have yet to ask if I am allowed to mention the -rhymes with Lease Rorps). My last day in Anchorage is February 20, so please call or email me if you want to see me before I leave. I do promise to return at least once over the next several months.

Please use this blog to keep updated as to my progress in the application, nomination and appointment process.

Thank you all for your love and I look forward to keeping you all updated!

(p.s. The picture is of my sister Liana and I in Hawaii)