My interview was set for late in the day on a Friday. I had been instructed to bring a number of pieces of documentation, including documentation describing my strategy for handling my current debt while in the Peace Corps.
The interview was in downtown Minneapolis at the regional Peace Corps office. While I was waiting in the lobby, I read a newsletter that listed job openings targeted at returning Peace Corps volunteers (RPCV). Many of the job postings were exactly as I would have expected: English teacher needed in China, cultural speaker needed to speak to children, and so on. One of the postings caught my attention because of its uniqueness:
- Sheep herder needed in Montana. Must be able to live alone for months at a time in the Montana wilderness...
Soon, my interview started. It lasted two-and-a-half hours. It included getting finger printed. Just as in the volunteer application, there were a number of non-standard interview questions. Questions like:
- Would you be willing to change your appearance to fit in with a culture?
- Are you in a romantic relationship?
- What is the longest time you have been away from your family?
- How is your family reacting to your decision?
- How do you handle stress?
The interview had two main parts; the first part seemed to be an evaluation of me. The second part was a description of what I could expect as a Peace Corps volunteer. We talked a great deal about how being a Peace Corps volunteer can be very stressful, especially until the volunteer has become comfortable with the norms of the host country’s culture and their language (sometimes having only simple-level language skills can lead to people treating you in a simple or childlike way). We talked about commitment and responsibilities as a guest in another country. We discussed how even though there can be many people around it can still sometimes feel lonely as a Peace Corps volunteer. It may sound strange, but the more we talked about such things, the more I new it was for me.
At the end of the interview, I asked my recruiter about the sheep herder job posting, and its appearance in the job listings for returning Peace Corps volunteers. She said, "Ya, that makes sense."