Catherine Lawrence, G14
Peace Corps Volunteer/Georgia
October 12, 2014
It has been said that there are no second acts in life; however, it is just not true. I am here to tell you that I am living my second act and my dream by becoming a Peace Corps Volunteer at the age of 64!
My Peace Corps dream is forty-five years old. I remember way back when (1968), seeing pictures of Peace Corps Volunteers waiting to start their adventure. I don't remember where they were going, only that they were going. I watched so many excited men and women walk across the field to board the aircraft. My goal was set; however, it didn't happen (at least not 45 years ago).
There is a quote that says: "Real life happens when you are making plans to do something else." Well, that is what happened to me. Real life consisted of family, marriage, having a baby, buying a house, divorce".you get the picture. As life unfolded the dream didn't die. It did take a back seat; but, I never lost hope that someday it would become a reality. In the meantime I traveled as much of the world as I could afford; but, my dream was to live abroad, not just visit.
As I worked my way through my early 60's I realized that I had reached one of the BIG numbers in life, and those numbers scared me. If I was firm in my commitment to live abroad as a Peace Corps Volunteer I had to begin the process and fast. And so, I did.
I must tell you that the application process is not for the faint of heart. As much as I wanted to be part of the history that is the Peace Corps; I was challenged and frustrated by the process. At many points I thought about jumping ship. It took over a year from start to finish. The application itself was daunting, however, that was easy compared to the medical forms and tests that were required. I persisted, and like anything with the government, you hurry up and then you wait. I waited and waited and finally I heard that I was nominated for a spot in the Peace Corps. That is the first step. You are nominated and then you wait to be medically cleared. Since it takes so long for the process to move along; at this point you need to update your medical. More tests and forms, and once completed you are invited to serve in the Peace Corps.
During this process I was working full time at a local university. I was also finishing my Master's Degree in Education, as my hope was to work as a teacher in the Peace Corps. My plan was, once I received an official invitation, I would retire from my position. I was 63, and ready to leave the world of Academia and begin a new life.
There is another saying: "Nothing worth getting comes easy!" I thought I was home free, but, alas it was not that easy.
I had my official Peace Corps Invitation to go to Azerbaijan. I set the wheels in motion and gave my notice. I took all the appropriate steps to get my finances in order and contacted friends and family that I would be leaving the country for twenty-seven-months. Whew"..my dream was within reach: I could almost touch it. However, the government of Azerbaijan didn't see it that way. They revoked the invitation for the Peace Corps to enter the country. What now? Retired from my position, my dream was slipping away. Not to worry, the Peace Corps came to the rescue and secured me a position with the group that was going to the Republic of Georgia.
I will pass on the detailed, blow-by-blow account of the ups and downs that took place until it all worked out. I was sworn in as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the city of Tbilisi, Georgia at the age of 64, and I am here in the Republic of Georgia living my dream and the second act of my life. Reports about life in Georgia will follow.