I was warned by friends and acquaintances who are Returned Peace Corps Volunteers to start the paperwork early. I got my start as soon as I could on everything I saw.
Legal clearance? Check! (Plus some inappropriate mother scaring.)
Dental clearance? Easy. Check!
New passport? Yes, though certainly not on time. I somehow completely missed a very important link in my original welcome e-mail which said that a Peace Corps passport application should be submitted within 30 days of invitation. I completed these steps 8 months after invitation. To be honest, I am not really concerned with the timing, just with the ridiculous picture that will be on this new passport.
No smiling?! Both my last passport photo and my student visa photo had me smiling! Both of my ears have to be showing?! What is that, even?! My ears aren’t showing 66% of the time, and certainly never in the weird way they are in this photo. And how are these ears going to help identify me anyway? Whatever. This isn’t so important in the grand scheme of things.
Medical clearance? Not so easy. I ran into some interesting timing issues that are hopefully unique to my situation. I had originally scheduled my vaccinations for late May for my August departure. When I learned that I wouldn’t be leaving until January, I bumped it back. Originally, the travel & infectious diseases clinic told me they wouldn’t do my vaccinations until 6 weeks out. Recently I decided I should message the Peace Corps nurses, since I had heard that this could be more complicated than it seemed on the surface They disagreed with the travel clinic, and recommended starting right away.
I really should have stuck with May, as it turns out; this is not the best time
for my family to me to be getting crazy diseases shot into me. See, my Ben brother was admitted into the U of M Medical Center on Tuesday to start chemo, radiation, and a stem cell transplant. He will be in the area for treatment and recovery until at least December.
Monday I got shot up with yellow fever, polio, Hepatitis A, and tetanus vaccinations. Tuesday I visited Ben to check out his new digs. As I was sitting there watching pints of blood drip into him, I realized that I could be carrying highly contagious diseases.
I left him and my sister-in-law Jen with the task of talking to the doctor and figuring out the restrictions. In the meantime, I found out that I am not immune to measels or mumps despite those childhood vaccinations, and therefore need a booster. Because yellow fever and MMR are both live cultures, they make you wait 30 days before receiving the next one. I will receive my MMR booster September 9. I won’t be able to see Ben for 3 weeks after that. I currently can’t see Ben because of the yellow fever vaccination. I am the worst sister.
This is the first time I’ve been upset with the Peace Corps process.