Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Being Detail-Oriented Helps In A Bureaucracy

There was some travel time over the holidays which meant that if I planned rightly, I would have about an hour and a half to whittle away while sitting in the Raleigh airport. That came to pass so I opened up my Peace Corps folder (a very full-of-papers folder mind you) to go over details of my medical evaluation papers. I am still on the hook to have those completed and returned to the Peace Corps Medical Offices. As I am leafing through the paper and the essay question that I must fill out, I come across the form that explains how to receive reimbursement for office visits required to complete all the medical forms. It is a three or four page packet and I recall seeing it many times, however for some reason I always read the front page, not the page or two after it.

That was a mistake.

I had to have a clearance for three other items that I highlighted on my application with my current doctor and while I remember seeing these a long while ago, I had forgotten that they appeared after the initial reimbursement cover page of the packet.

I need to set up another appointment with my doctor to have her answer three questions which I am hoping she can fill out, as two of them are more geared towards a specialist or three that I visit. I'm sure she will be happy to see me again for the third or fourth time.

No one's fault save my own but I think it highlights the process nicely: read everything three times and then double-check those documents two more times to be certain you have everything.

Here's to hoping that January 2009 I can put all this material together and get it right on the first try!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Possible Change Here In Content

It has been quite some time since I have posted last here. Needless to say, I was quite happy with the outcome of the most recent election at the national as well as the state level. Now begins Obama's opportunity to reshape policy and direct national efforts in a liberal manner. I will hold judgement on his military endeavors until his administration actually makes decisions.

But, for the changing of content here.

Political posts are still in the offing, and there are numerous stories that merit comment on now and in the future without question. Governor Blagojevich's deeds being a prime example of current events.

Instead I will also detail a new path in my own life and career here as well. I work in the web sphere and have been doing so for a decade now. A few months ago I sought out to change that a bit and ended up applying for the Peace Corps. Through July into September I pulled together the various pieces of my application and submitted my essays, resume, history, and all relevant facts of my life that might be of interest. With a great deal of support from my friends and family, I put in my application. By October I was interviewed (more essays preceded the interview) in a town close by, and then near November 1st I learned that I had a nomination for a position. After putting in the time to get the application started and finished, the nomination part happened astoundingly quick.

As early as July 2009 I may be taking leave of the United States and land near Sub-Saharan Africa to take on a position helping in the IT sector in a country where I don't know the language nor the customs. I am extremely excited at the prospect to put it lightly. For a long while I have felt a lost sense of what I am here to do during my tenure in this world. This has been the first thing that I have felt a deep, gravitational-like pull to do something larger than myself.

Below is the essay I completed that answered the question, "Why do you want to join Peace Corps?" 
"It was two in the morning and I couldn’t shake the idea from my head. I lay wide awake thinking about changing my life and becoming a Peace Corps volunteer. It was a powerful thought that grew and took hold of my imagination - becoming immersed in a different culture, working to help others, and gaining the insight of what life is like elsewhere in the world. For the past year I have known that my life needed to change but I never knew it would lead me to this point.

In early 2007 I met a wonderful friend who shared her experience of joining Peace Corps and her time in a small village in Niger. The stories fascinated me and I asked many questions about the culture, the people, the work, the positives and the negatives of being there. Something about the world fascinates me intensely and before I knew it I wanted to know more about this country in Africa and its people. To this day I still pause to read articles online that have even a passing reference to Niger.

With the seed of service planted in my mind I came across this quote by Daniel Dennett: “Find something more important than you are and dedicate your life to it.” My professional work in the information technology field puts me in touch with a number of people whom I assist in many different ways. However the idea of helping people truly in need of technology in some far off place on the globe energizes me in a way that is beyond the way I feel in my current position. It is as if I made the connection between what I am doing and something more important than me: being of service to my country and to the world in a significant way.

For as long as I can remember the world outside my own intrigues me, but I have not found a way to connect that interest to a path in my life. Politics and political history provided the initial step in learning about people beyond the borders of the United States. This was followed by religious and cultural questions centering on what others believed and adhered to around the world and through recorded history. I feel my horizon opening up wider and wider.

Which brings me to the present. That yearning to be of service and to change the world coupled with a greater understanding of life on this earth matches perfectly with the ideals that the Peace Corps embodies. My intention is to lead efforts that build on the intuitive and creative minds already present in a foreign land. The culmination of this is to bring back these experiences and leadership skills and affect change in my own community. Mohandas Gandhi put it best: “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.“ This is the perfect summation of why I desire to join the Peace Corps."
As more updates come in I will be sure to add to this web log. For the time being, my nomination is on hold in a technical sense until I can get my full medical evaluation complete. I have had some appointments that could only be made into January of 2009, so it will be some time before I can get the last of my qualifications completed and returned to the Peace Corps.

More updates to come.