Our Story

Our Story: After meeting in graduate school at UGA, we were married in 2011 in Marietta, Georgia. A year later, we joined the Peace Corps as environmental conservation volunteers and embarked on our adventure in Paraguay!

Disclaimer: The contents of this blog are ours personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps.

November 29, 2011


We put both our packets in the mail today!

We received our packets about a week ago in the mail. They were stuffed with information and additional paper work we needed to submit.

Here are a few of the things they requested:

  • Fingerprint charts (We went to the Sanibel Island Police Department for these)
  • National Agency Check Form (a waiver for a background check)
  • Reference Label Sheet (indicates our three references and includes contact information)
  • Marriage License
  • Couple Questionnaire
  • College Transcripts (can be unofficial)
Additionally, an email from our recruiter requested:
  • Skill Addenda (Sarah's was environmental education; Ben's were environmental education, business development, and education)
  • Financial Obligations Form (Ben)
  • Masters International Acceptance Letter (Sarah)
  • We also included copies of our relevant certifications
To keep things organized, we topped it off with a table of contents sheet. Hopefully, that will help our recruiter sort through all the paperwork. Soon we will schedule an interview!

November 13, 2011

Couples Questionnaire is done!

Here are the responses to the questions in the Couples Questionnaire!

CQ – Written responses

Here are the questions:

1. What do you view as the biggest challenges Peace Corps service will present to you as a couple? Have you confronted similar challenges in your relationship in the past? If so, how did you overcome them? If not, what relevant experience have you shared as a couple that will be helpful in meeting these challenges?

2. What are your expectations about serving in the Peace Corps as individuals and as a couple?

3. Couples must be prepared to live and train in separate communities during the three-month Pre-Service Training (PST), as couples typically serve in different Assignment Areas requiring separate trainings in community-based locations. Additionally, couples must be prepared to endure periods of separation during service due to service-related duties, medical issues, etc. Such periods of separation may be difficult for newly married couples, as well as more established couples. Please describe how you think you would cope with separation from your spouse during PST, as well as during your service, while keeping in mind communication options may be extremely limited even within your country of service.

4. Upon completion of PST, couples will be placed in the same community and share a household together. Typically, such households will have 2-3 small rooms, although some may be limited to one small hut or living space. Living quarters may feel cramped at times in comparison to housing standards in the United States. Additionally, many couples will find they share workspace and spend a significant amount of time together while collaborating on community work activities. At times, it may be difficult for individuals in a couple to find adequate time, or space, where they can be alone. Please describe how you think you may cope with living in close quarters with your spouse, and how you may cope with limited options for spending time alone.

5. Many cultures are characterized by clearly defined gender roles that differ from those in the U.S. How do you believe you will deal with situations that may cause strain on you as an individual, and on your relationship? For example, the credit for a wife’s work may be attributed to her husband, or a husband may be teased for washing dishes or clothes, as this is considered “women’s work.”

And our responses:

1. As a couple, we foresee some of the biggest challenges to be coping with stress and fatigue. We took a hiking trip for 4 days and 3 nights in the Grand Canyon. We planned our entire trip beforehand, As we progressed through our journey, we constantly re-evaluated our situation and determined where we needed to camp that night, what we were going to eat, etc. We learned that we both have different capabilities (endurance, perseverance, tolerance) and to get through, we needed to be patient with each other and take our time preparing each day. It is also important to motivate each other in times of weakness and to be completely understanding of the others needs.

2. As individuals, we expect the Peace Corps to make us more well-rounded, and to provide us with a better understanding of another country and culture. Also, we both expect to be given a chance to use our education and experience to help better another culture. We both hope to make long-lasting impacts on the communities that we will be becoming a part of. As a couple, we believe the Peace Corps will provide us a very unique experience and foundation on which to build our relationship. We look forward to seeing how the Peace Corps will change us for the better and bring us closer together as a couple.

3. During the three months of PST, we are planning for the worst and hoping the best. If most of our communication options are limited, we expect to least be able to write each other letters about our experiences. In the absence of letters, we plan to keep daily journals of our experiences which we will share with each other as often we get the chance. We will also make it a point to take pictures of special moments and people so that we can put faces with the stories that we will have to tell. Our recruiter mentioned that 90% of volunteers are given cell phones. If this is the case, then we plan to share our stories of trial and triumph during PST.

4. At the present time, we live in a small, one-bedroom apartment. We both work during the week, and see each other everyday. We don’t foresee having many problems living in small quarters together. If there are times when we need to separate, then we can find different hobbies or exercise routines to get a little time to ourselves.

5. We share many of the household duties, but some times our roles can seem reversed. For example, as it stands now, the male in our relationship does most of the cooking. If there is an instance when we receive jeers for this, we will see it as an opportunity to share more about US culture with the people in our community. We will explain to them that in the US, the sharing of all household tasks is considered normal, and that men and women are considered equals. Also, we do not consider it OK for either the wife or the husband to take credit for the others work. In these instances, it is important to us to speak up and let the people in our community know that credit needs to be given where credit is due; and that we are proud of our spouse for their accomplishments. 

November 10, 2011

Info Session

Tonight we went to a Peace Corps Information Session at the Atlanta Library. We were able to talk to a recruiter who served in Malawi.

Here are some things we found out:
  • 90% of volunteers carry cell phones.
  • Volunteers typically work Monday-Friday and have the weekends off.
  • Currently, applicants are nominated to go to a specific region 8-10 months into the application process. This process will change in January 2012, but this change will not effect our applications.
  • Your placement officer (not recruiter) determines where you will be placed.
  • It is very rare for married couples to have a choice of where they will serve.

November 1, 2011

The Ball is Rolling

Tonight, both Ben and I both submitted our Peace Corps applications! We had to fill out numerous pages of paper work including eligibility, marital status, drug/alcohol/legal information, financial obligations, education, language skills, employment, volunteer activities, practical experience, regional interests, two essay questions, and medical history. We also had to submit three references: a work supervisor, a volunteer/academic supervisor, and a close friend. The moment we submitted, we received emails from the Peace Corps with a couples questionnaire. We are to discuss and answer the questions then turn them into the recruitment office during the next two weeks. Typically, the application process takes about 12-14 months for couples, so this is just the beginning for us. We are so excited! Update: It took us only 8 months to get our invitation!

Paraguay Photos