Yesterday morning Paul and I spoke with our Placement Office over the phone for an hour. During that time she informed us of the following:
- As a result of the budget cuts our original Nominations (Central/South America August 2011) are likely not happening
- There are a limited number of spots for couples and only specific combinations of skills get placed
- Our combination of skills will most likely place us in a region other than Central/South America
- The number of spots for couples leaving during our original departure period: July – September 2011 are almost nonexistent
- It is unlikely that we will be asked to serve leaving in 2011; more likely is departure in January – March 2012
In short, everything we thought we knew we no longer know…departure date, program assignments, geographic location.
On a positive note – we have no placement holds on our application and we have been approved for the Invitation, whenever that may come. That means that we have jumped through all of the hoops (since last May) and we are cleared to be Peace Corps Volunteers. We thought that was the hard part!
Now we are learning that practicing even more flexibility and patience over an additional 5 months of waiting is going to be the hardest part of this application process. Our Placement Office informed us that she will know more about how the budget cuts will be affecting specific programs in the next 2-3 weeks.
Through a little digging we have found out that the Peace Corps FY2011 Budget was reduced 6.25% as part of the Department of State reductions and that folks with actual Invitations are now being told they will be placed in other assignments. Lay-offs of Peace Corps staff members are likely though we won’t know for a little while how all of these changes will ultimately affect the agency. I feel for those volunteers who thought they were secure in their invitations and for the PC employees who may lose their jobs.
We have our health and we have each other and though this is a disappointment, we are trying to look on the bright side and still hope for the best.
Other good news is that we are likely going to extend our road trip and make it out West! Also, we’ll be around for our friends’ wedding in August, my Camp Vega Reunion in August, and maybe a long-awaited adventure to Burning Man. So, it’s not all bad news…
We’ll keep you posted, Mari & Paul