As I started this blog to keep interested parties updated on our journey to (and through) the Peace Corps, I suppose I should probably actually use it in this capacity at some point.
As of last week, I sent in all of my medical forms to the Peace Corps.
Amanda and I are picking up the last of her forms tomorrow morning and
mailing them off soon thereafter. It's almost completely out of our
hands. This good news has its downsides though. Although Amanda's
medical bills came out to slightly less than mine, the total for me came
out to $1013, with a $101 charge for a test requested by neither myself
nor the Peace Corps. (Christie Clinic is supposed to call me back about
that one.) My insurance might cover some of the costs but likely
only the Td booster if anything at all. They didn't seem keen on
covering unnecessary lab work and immunizations when last I spoke with
them. So after I've been denied coverage, and I'm left with a roughly
$900 bill, Peace Corps will reimburse me up to $125, which means I will
hopefully only have to dish out 7 or 8 hundred to pay for everything.
But wait, there is indeed a silver lining.
One of the prerequisites to making it this far in the application
process is to write a personal statement regarding your financial
situation if there are loans that are not deferrable in your assumed
substantial student debt. Between my own non-deferrable loans and those
of Amanda, we had a fairly hefty chunk of money to pay off last fall.
However, we've been putting roughly half of our income toward paying
these off since then and were even on schedule to have it all paid
off... and then the medical bills happened. At this point, you're
probably thinking that I seriously misused the phrase "silver lining."
Well, it would be quite ironic to have spent tens of thousands on an
education in English just to misuse so common a saying, and I assure you
that is not the case. So here it is (the silver lining, that is): I
called the Peace Corps, and I don't have to have everything paid off. In
addition to the fact that I've paid more than three years in advance, I
guess I can put up to about $200 a month toward loans while serving.
Granted, if I don't spend that money, then I get it at the end of
service, but I'll take one less hurdle to jump over if it's offered.
I think at this point the title of this entry is rather
self-explanatory, but I'd like to elaborate a little nonetheless. You
see, I heard several returned Peace Corps volunteers say something along
these lines ("You really have to want it."), but I rather thought they
were referring to the large amount of paperwork and lengthy waiting
process. The last couple months have cleared up that misunderstanding.
The Peace Corps is a wonderful thing, but you simply couldn't do it if
you were poor. You need a college degree, which is of course accompanied
by debt (sometimes non-deferrable), and enough money and/or good enough
insurance to cover the multitude of tests and immunizations required.
CLEP exams to determine language abilities run about $100 a piece, and
fingerprinting costs about 40 bucks. And if you're working your way
through all of these expenses, good luck keeping up with payments on
everything when you have to take time off in order to get all of these
things done. Put simply, a lot of people just don't have the means to
get through the first year leading up to departure. Considering the
boost having served in the Peace Corps lends to your resume (even if
that isn't the primary motivation for going), it's just not particularly
fair that only those with money have access to it...
Which makes me start thinking long term: maybe this is a project for us
when we return from the Peace Corps and start raking in the big bucks
as a high school teacher and park ranger. It would be great to establish
some sort of fund for underprivileged applicants that otherwise
wouldn't have this door opened to them. Considering the immense success
the US military has had in recruiting people who don't have the
financial backing to further themselves, it would be a wonderfully stark
contrast to send some of the same underpriveleged young Americans
abroad in the only consistently good foreign policy this country has
ever had. But I'll not get so far ahead of myself just yet; we haven't
even received our official invitation to our country. I'll keep you all