This is the story of how I decided I was going to be beat the Peace Corps at their own secretive game.
And how I lost.
I discovered the website Peace Corps Wiki a while back, before my interview. For anyone considering joining the Peace Corps, it’s a serious must-have. They’re got a majestic feature on there called the Timeline. Now, they’ve got other stuff, like blogs (I should probably throw mine into the mix) and information on all of the P.C.’s serviced countries (like suggested packing list, and whether or not you’ll have electricity), but the Timeline was what I was really looking for, combined with a feature called the ‘Placement Calculator’.
I had been told when I was nominated that I’d likely be sent to a Francophone country in SubSaharan Africa, precisely where I was hoping I’d go. It’s not a guaranteed spot in one of the countries, but more like a strong “maybe” for where you’ll end up. This means I’d end up (maybe) in Niger, Senegal, Togo, Benin, Mali, Cameroon, Madagascar, or Burkina Faso. This was a start.
So, first I went to the Placement Calculator. This was back, back, back late fall when I was still working on the devil packet I mentioned in my last post and had nothing but waiting time. The Placement Calculator took my info — Community Development. Africa. French. It then spit out which countries in Francophone Africa community developers usually end up being sent to. The results were strong for Cameroon, Niger, Togo and Burkina Faso.
Assuming, as with so many things, that I was the first person ever piece together that 1 and 1 is 2, I kept a vigilant eye on the Timeline for the next few months. The Timeline was a list of submitted dates and countries that had been verified by the website as true departures dates. I knew I was likely to leave in June. If I could somehow watch this Timeline, I’d know when those countries above popped up that I was almost, without a doubt, going to head there. It was genius. I was genius. I was the trickiest lady alive!
So I watched. December, January, February, March– all filled with almost daily spying on the Timeline, hedging bets on which country would be the one to give me a secret wink. A wink that’d let me know that me and this country will be buddy-buddy come summer and that I had somehow broken past the cryptically sealed lips of the U.S. government.
First Togo popped up. I knew it. I knew it’d be Togo. I had this gut thing, ya know?
Then, Cameroon came. Which was fine because I kinda felt like Cameroon could be where I was supposed to be placed, right?
Then Burkina Faso. Then Mali. Then Senegal.
If you’re keeping track, that’s 5 countries in SubSaharan, Francophone Africa that are leaving in June 2011, out of a possible 8. Niger is currently ‘suspended’ as of January, so really, out of 7. To put in perspective how ridiculously flooded with French-y African Nations that is, the previous three months had two departures to anywhere in that region. The three month after, so far, have none listed.
It’s like they knew I’d be on the lookout, and decided to make me pay for my snooping. Now I have no idea where the heck I’ll be going.
You win this time, Peace Corps.
Also, who sends people to Equatorial Africa in June? Isn’t that a little cruel?