Now What?: Initial Advice for New Volunteers

Kayla McCabe, 129 TCCS

Hello Peace Corps Thailand Group 130 and welcome to Sticky Rice! This online magazine is used by volunteers in country to share tips and experiences, but I will be writing this column specifically for you, the invitee. My hope is that I can provide you with information and resources that will make your preparation process a little less overwhelming. So, you probably just got invited and are probably overwhelmed with a number of emails you’re receiving as it’s stressful. I remember thinking “Wow, why are they sending me so much stuff? There’s no way I can get everything done! Oh my god what if I forget something and get kicked out of the Peace Corps; there’s no way I can let that happen!” Relax. Breathe. It’s okay to be stressed, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed, but I (and plenty of other people) are here to help. Here are a couple tips that will hopefully take some of the stress out of the situation:

  • Tell people. You may want to wait until you are medically and legally cleared before telling your boss or announcing on Facebook, and that’s fine. But it can only help you to tell your family and close friends you’ve been invited. For one thing, it will give all of you more time to process the news and make the most of your last few months together. For another, they can be a huge support in helping you get to doctor’s appointments, selling or packing belongings, and finding time to work on your aspiration statement, resume, and other submissions required by Peace Corps. I was close with my boss and told him right away about being invited and having to be cleared and he even gave me extra time off to get to an appointment. Support is crucial right now: tell only who you feel comfortable, but tell someone.
  • Consolidate. Right now a lot of paperwork and due dates are being thrown at you and it is important that you submit things in a timely manner. Buy a planner, a folder, or use your phone, but do something to put everything in one place. It will help you keep track of what needs to be done and hopefully relieve some of the stress of forgetting a step. If you do forget or are unsure of a due date, ask someone! Peace Corps invited you because they want to see you in Thailand and they will help you get there. Don’t be afraid to communicate with your nurse or any point of contact given to you- they’re there for a reason.
  • Connect. Join the PCV Thailand 130 Facebook group and friend other invitees and current volunteers. Follow people on Instagram. Find out if there are other invitees near you and meet for lunch. Reach out to any of us in country and ask us about our experience. Browse this magazine, read our blogs (all of which are linked here) There are a lot of people who are going through or have been through exactly what you are experiencing right now and they are a great source of knowledge and support for you.
  • Celebrate. Being invited to the Peace Corps is a huge accomplishment. There’s a lot of work to be done but don’t forget to take time in between working to enjoy yourself, eat lots of cheese, and spend time with whoever you happen to be closest to. The next few months are going to fly: enjoy them!

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