China! (Possibly, Maybe)

Even though I didn’t get the Foreign Service job, I’m still planning on living abroad again, and eventually working for either the government or a political organization. One of the best ways to get one’s foot in the door with that is joining the Peace Corps, and yesterday I was nominated for a position in China.

The recruiter told that things may change, and that this was all tentative. However, because of my experience as an English teacher, she said that she’d rather not send me to an ordinary English teaching position. Instead, the Peace Corps wants me to join their teacher training program, wherein I’d be teaching future English teachers both advanced English, and how to run a class. Most of these positions are in China, but the program has other locations in Asia as well.

I’m thrilled with this, and very much hope that circumstances allow me to go to China. I quite enjoyed it the last time I was there, and would very much like to learn a bit of Mandarin. What I find especially amusing, though, is that if this whole thing plays out, I’ll be in a situation already described by two of my favorite books.

River Town Peter Hessler is a memoir by a former Peace Corps volunteer about being in a teacher training program in China. The book and its sequel Oracle Bones are both excellent. I would not say that the books encouraged me to apply for the Peace Corps (those seeds were planted long ago) but they certainly made me want to travel and write more. I can’t recommend them enough.

So, I’m on track to do precisely what one of my favorite authors has already done, which is sort of cool/weird. It would be like joining the army and having the exact same assignments as Hemingway or something.

In any case, I’m thrilled to not only have been nominated for a position at all, but also for one that demands a certain amount of experience and expertese. Plenty of people whom I’ve talked to about the Peace Corps have said that there is a certain “hippy” factor to a lot of the volunteers, and the recruiter made it very clear that this program would be an actual, regular job. No chance to hippy around, though she did not say so in so many words. I couldn’t be happier about it. Of all of the positions that I could have been offered or nominated for, this would have been in my top five. I’ve still got to get poked and prodded by medical examiners, wade through tons of paperwork, and do a bunch of other stuff. But, I’m definitely leaving again, and wouldn’t have it any other way.

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