No News Is Bad News From The Peace Corps

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

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9 responses to “No News Is Bad News From The Peace Corps”

  1. Jessica says :

    I’m sorry to hear this. Even though your program was cut, (mine was too!) I am optimistic that Peace Corps will find a spot for us, even if we have to wait a while for it. Sure seems like the Central/South America region took the biggest hit from these cuts eh? Maybe it just seems that way since it was your guys’ region, as well as mine, and both yours and my program was cut. I haven’t really heard much about programs in other regions getting cut or cancelled, but I’m sure it is happening. Either way, I am glad you are staying optimistic and I can’t wait to hear where you guys are heading when you finally receive that placement! Good luck!


    • Mari says :

      Thanks for the support Jessica – we really appreciate it. Knowing that there are a lot of folks in the same boat does make this whole process a little easier. I, too, am optimistic that PC will find a place for both you and for us – maybe it will be the same country! Wouldn’t that be funny. Hang in there! Take care, Mari & Paul

  2. Jenni says :

    I am sorry to hear that the whole process is again in the unknown. I am also nominated for Central/South America for this Fall, and I have seen many places that it is the program being cut the most, and I am worried that my program will be cut as well. I sent in my resume and was told my placement specialist would contact me in 4-6 weeks, so hopefully I will get some answers then! Good luck and hopefully you get more news soon

    • Mari says :

      I hope you have better luck than we have had…I think it’s a bumpier road at times for married couples. If you haven’t heard it might be good news and they also might be waiting to see where the chips fall after the cuts. Here’s to happy news soon for us both! Take care, Mari

  3. Jenny says :

    Mari and Paul-

    We are experiencing similar trials in our quest for service. It seems that applicants could have an amazing set of skills but it doesn’t necessarily align with the PC needs- my husband is an architect, for example, and there’s really no where he can use his training. I hope you get reassigned soon- I’m sure you both have a lot to give!

    • Mari says :

      Thanks for the encouragement Jenny – we really appreciate it. It’s tough to hear that after devoting the last 10 years to working with nonprofits (including starting my own) that we’re a tough set of skills to match but I guess that’s the case. I’ve read your blog and really like it – your sense of style – wedding shot (looks like it could be one of us!) – and your candor. Best of luck moving forward – keep us posted. Take care, Mari

  4. Dave says :

    As one-half of a currently serving married couple, I feel you about the frustrations of the pre-service waiting, but look at it this way: you have another five months to enjoy friends and family in the US before heading off to who knows where! I’m sure you’ll get to serve and once you do you’ll appreciate getting to extend your road trip and go to your friends’ wedding. Have fun! It’ll happen in due time…

    • Mari says :

      Totally agree Dave – thanks for the support. We were disappointed when we first heard but then, just like you say, it’s another several months to see people and travel. How can we complain?!? I doubt we’ll have another opportunity like this again so we’re going to make the most of it. It’s comforting to know that eventually we’ll get to serve and be in your position. Where are you guys posted? Take care, Mari

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