I applied to the Peace Corps back in the late summer of 2012. Getting from then to Nicaragua in March 2014 is a case-study in bureaucratic incompetence that I won’t get into right now. But things got interesting one year ago today when I received my invitation to serve as a Small Business Development Volunteer in Nicaragua.
August, as I remember, was a relatively quiet month. May and June and part of July were very busy, but by August work was slow and I wasn’t traveling much. Here is a Facebook post I put up on July 1st:
I never did make it to Wisconsin, but I was happily hanging out in DC. I was still working on projects at HSBC outside of Chicago, so I did find myself in Illinois occasionally for work. My mind was not on my Peace Corps application at all. I had pretty much written it off since I had last spoken with them in March.
On August 22 I got an e-mail from the Peace Corps that they needed some supplemental information for my application and that I had two weeks to complete it. The next day, Friday the 23rd, someone else from the Peace Corps notified me that they were in the process of considering me for an assignment, and they needed the information ASAP. I remember it took a while to complete, but I got it in by the end of the weekend. That weekend I also went to the Blog it Home presentation at the Mt. Pleasant Library.
The next week I flew to O’hare on either Monday or Tuesday. On Tuesday I received some good news. I was made a job offer at a bank with a significant raise over my salary at EY. Then the next night (while still in Illinois) I found out that I would be receiving a 20% raise from EY. And I didn’t know what to do because I knew the Peace Corps was mulling over an assignment for me. I flew back to DC on Thursday and that night I e-mailed my contacts at the Peace Corps letting them know about my job offer and other opportunities, hoping that they could let me know when I would definitively hear back from the Peace Corps.
The next day I was off from work for the long Labor Day weekend. I was sleeping in, and I got woken up by my phone going off. It turned out it was one of my contacts at the Peace Corps letting me know that he got my e-mail and was happy to let me know that I had received an invitation to the Small Business Development program in Nicaragua. I should have bought a lotto ticket on Saturday. I was having a nice and lucky week. I mulled over the offer during the long weekend. I remember having a pretty intense conversation about it at my friend Luke’s house. And on Labor Day, one year ago today, I took the plunge and officially accepted.
And I can’t believe that was a year ago. I feel like I have been in perpetual motion since then. Once I accepted the invitation I immediately started jumping through the medical clearance hoops. Simultaneously, I started the most challenging project of my career in Manhattan, so I started traveling up to New York weekly before moving back to New York and traveling to DC occasionally for parties and saying goodbye to friends. At the same time Congress decided to shut ‘er down:
It just so happened that I had submitted my medical paperwork the day before the shutdown, so my clearance for Nicaragua was put in a state of bureaucratic purgatory. That day flying back from Boston (I had gone up from NY the night before for a day of meetings) I remember being the absolute busiest of the project in New York. I was literally on the phone or in meetings non-stop from 7:00 AM until 3:00 PM. But I was able to cope, knowing that in just a few more months I would be voluntarily unemployed, traveling, seeing my friends, and soon off to Nicaragua.
I also had Eric’s Bachelor Party in Nashville, Eric and Elizabeth’s wedding at Blackberry Farm outside of Knoxville, and then trips to Colorado, Florida, Ireland, England, Sweden, Mexico, and Australia, before departing for Peace Corps staging on March 4th.
In the week leading up to the wedding in Tennessee I was so busy with work I flew to NY on Monday, Boston on Tuesday night, and Knoxville via Detroit on Thursday afternoon. The wedding weekend was absolutely spectacular. On Sunday after the wedding Lucas, JJ, and I made the long drive to DC from Knoxville. Then the next morning I flew right back to NY for a meeting. The next day I flew back to DC. Wednesday morning, off to Chicago. And then Thursday night, back to NY for a meeting on Friday (which was cancelled), before flying back home to DC on Friday. Five flights in five days that week, and nine flights over the two week period, plus the road trip from Knoxville to DC.
I can’t really explain why, but I liked that lifestyle, for the most part. The travel rarely phased me. I was used to it. Sometimes the work was stressful though. I don’t regret leaving it for the Peace Corps though. By November, I was already very much looking forward to the future:
I hope everyone in America has a fun Labor Day weekend! And looking back on this year, I must thank everyone who was a part of it. I got to visit and see the vast majority of my friends and family, all over the world. Thank you! And if anyone has ever doubted the power of a well maintained Google Calendar, let this post be your lesson.
PS – I have some more great pictures, particularly from Eric and Elizabeth’s wedding and my trip to Oz, so here is another gallery: