Peace Corps: Getting Accepted and Moving to China
So my peeps, I finally received my Invitation from the Peace Corps. They offered me a TEFL position in China. I leave on June 27th, 2014 and I return August 2016 if I don’t wish to extend my stay.
The last few days have been an emotional roller coaster.
I got the email while I was working job #2 of the day. I was tagging clothes for the clothing store I work for and I usually listen to music because the time goes by faster. Well, my phone showed I was getting an email. It was a weird email address with an @peacecorps.gov address. I immediately opened it and I read 3 sentences before it registered. Holy crap I’m going to China. I started laughing incessantly and smiling and I was like, well dang, how am I going to concentrate at work now! I told myself, it’s ok, you can last through work and tell everyone after.
I tagged two items of clothing before giving up. I told my manager I needed to make a phone call and I called my parents right away. I told my dad and I was still laughing, and jumping up and down. “I’m going to China!” I said.
After I got back inside, I was still smiling, then I started thinking about what this meant, what was next, what I needed to do. There was so much planning to be done, so much to accomplish… so many people to leave.
I went from happy to sad instantly. I knew I would be leaving and I knew it would be hard. I knew this part was coming. I wondered how I was going to last two years without hugging those people, seeing those people, talking to those people every day.
Things are about to be very different for me.
I’ve read a lot about the requirements for this program and people are asking a lot of questions, so I am going to answer them for you! It is said that one in every three applicants becomes a trainee.
I leave June 27th, 2014 for Chengdu a city in Sichuan province of China. Chengdu is in the more southern part of China. It can be very cold there. Chengdu is known for their Panda research and hotpot restaurants. It is home to the world’s largest building.
It all begins with paperwork at this point. I have to get shot records, dental exams and x-rays, fill out volunteer forms, get a physical, secure bank account, get personal property insurance, defer my loans, pack, move out of my apartment, sell my car and a bunch of other stuff all in just 5 months.
Then there is the staging event. I will go here to meet other trainees, turn in registration forms, I will receive my final medical clearance and then I will be off to China. The staging events take place somewhere close to where I live, but room and board are paid for.
I am provided with a plane ticket to China, where I will spend 8-12 weeks living with a host family. For those 8-12 weeks, I will integrate into the community and culture, learn the language, learn the skills of how I will educate, prove that I am worthy of this job. I will be evaluated for this entire time and they will decide if I am competent enough to serve in the Peace Corps. When they have decided I am fit to be a volunteer, I must swear in.
After I have completed my pre-training, I will be placed anywhere within a 750-mile radius of Chengdu. I could be living in a city of as little as 300,000 people and as many as 12 million people.
I will be teaching at a college level and living in a place close to where I teach. I will be teaching English, possibly reading, literature, and some writing if allowed. Some places might have a toilet, some places might have a squat hole, that’s just how it is. There is running water. I get access to the internet. I get my own kitchen and own living space, but that doesn’t mean I get tons of privacy.
I am not making a profit by going. They are paying my way. They expect us to live off the allowances they give us and not rely on our own money. I get an allowance to settle into my new home, get furniture, kitchenware, etc. I get a monthly allowance to pay for utilities, rent, food, and such. The allowance per month is about 1420 Yuan ($220 American), which is a safe and healthy mean of living. And I get a travel allowance for when I want to travel.
I don’t get a salary, but I do get the experience and the travel. A term with the Peace Corps opens up amazing opportunities for career advancement, plus I get to enrich lives.
I get two days off per month and I can save those days to come home or go visit neighboring countries.
I am not allowed to operate a motorized vehicle. I am allowed a bike or I can use public transportation.
I am probably mostly going to eat pork, because it is served with every meal. They are not going to send me to a hostile environment. I am very well protected in way of safety and health, but I ask all of you to see me having a wonderful experience rather than worrying that I am not okay.
Overall, that is a quick summary of what I should be expecting in the next few months.
I am very nervous, but I am excited. I am overwhelmed, I am sad, happy! A number of things. I have to leave my family here, but I get to make a whole new one in China.
A lot can change in 2 years. I know I will come back to the US and people will have moved on to different and better things, no one will be in the same place. It’s just the reality of it. Everything is about to change.
I hope to keep all of you as updated as possible while on my journey away. It is going to be amazing and I can’t wait. I hope to meet great, fun, and interesting new people along the way and I hope to keep my friends at home as well.
I will miss anyone, and I am prepared to tell you anything else you need to know. You are my family and I love every one of you.