This is the second post in a 3-part series on the Masters International program, an opportunity to combine Peace Corp service with a masters degree. Last week, Tegan shared what it’s like to apply to the program. This week, we hear from Orry Pratt, who recently received his Peace Corp invitation.
Wow, I can’t believe how fast the past six months have gone by. In the time span of 173 days, I submitted my application, interviewed, gained pre-medical and legal clearance, and received an invitation. This is one of the fastest application processes I have ever heard of with the Peace Corps. Other Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCV’s) have told me it took them over a year just to find out where they were going! I will admit PC has totally revamped the application process and moved to an online system, so maybe the length of my application process is the new norm.
It was Friday afternoon at 4:15 when I checked my email for the 200th time that day, and noticed one titled “Invitation to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer.” Deep breath. As I opened the email my eyes instantly scanned the opening lines until the bolded Paraguay appeared. Paraguay? Paraguay… Paraguay! PARAGUAY! I’m going to Paraguay! Within two minutes of skimming through the initial email I texted my best friend to share the news. My mind was racing at 90 mph thinking about all the different things associated with my service. Deep breath. Time to get focused and read the actual details of my service without racing through it. Deep breath. Side note: Leading up to my invitation I really did think I was likely going to receive an invitation in Africa, as most of the PC Agriculture programs are located on that continent, and I have experience from my volunteer work in Kenya last summer. I wasn’t “disappointed” about my invitation, I was more or less surprised that it was somewhere other than Africa.
One of the pdf’s attached to the invitation email was the Description of Service, a thirty pager with the main objectives of my service. During my 27 months of service, I will hold the title “Agriculture Extensionist,” and I will depart for Asuncíon, Paraguay on September 25. My service detail is particularly broad compared to other PC programs. The main objectives are capacity building among smallholder farmers to increase standards of living and food security within the region that I will be working (my “site” is yet to be determined. I won’t know that information until at least December 2013).
I will also assist farmers in understanding and implementing comprehensive sustainable food production systems for increased production and income generation. In order to meet these main “objectives” of my service, I will be tasked with training these farmers in cover cropping (green manure), crop rotation, no-till farming, contour plowing, soil diversification, improved nutrition, sustainable permaculture, beekeeping, and animal husbandry. Wow. Broad spectrum of agriculture? I would say so!
Learn more about Orry’s Peace Corp Service on his personal blog.