I don't know if emailing them did anything to improve my chances of progress, but I just got an email from my Placement and Assessment Officer - horray! She asked when a good time would be to call me, and I responded that I'm free any time. She wrote back immediately asking for my number, I sent it, and the next immediate response was: "Great. I will call you now." Cue crazy running-around-the housedness. Of course, my phone acted wonky and just gave her a busy signal. But all's well, she gave me her number and I called right away.
The conversation lasted about 20 minutes, and most of it was a discussion of my diet. After talking with other vegans and vegetarians, who have and have not served in Peace Corps, I think I've developed my own beliefs when in a PC situation. I'd really prefer being vegan or vegetarian - and it seems a lot of volunteers can do that based on where they live - but I basically said serving is more important to me than my diet. My supervisor at Alaska served in Senegal, and told me I'd have to be flexible enough to eat something that's been cooked in fish broth, and I know I can handle that. But my Placement Officer said I should probably try eating meat before I leave after explaining her own experience as a trainee. When she first arrived, she was offered meat and got pretty sick for several days since it was the first meat she had in 9 years.
So after that long conversation, she seemed reasonably satisfied. She asked me more questions that were similar to my nomination interview, like if my motivations have changed, how my family is coping, what are my reasons for joining, etc.
And then she said I'm a strong applicant, and she's definitely nominating me for service!
I have a choice.
The program I was originally nominated for is closed, and she said I wasn't as qualified for protected areas management as other areas...so...it's either:
1) Sub-Saharan Africa - Forestry, leaving in early February
2) Central/South America - Environmental Education, leaving in early February
She described both programs, and then I pretty much stumbled. I had to decide right then. I said both programs and both areas sounded perfect for me, but EE might be a little better fit than forestry, and the idea of Africa really intrigued me. So I asked if she could decide for me. She laughed and said that's often why they rarely give applicants a choice. True enough!
So I was invited. I'll get the package in 7-9 days!
I shifted through Peace Corps Wiki to see what countries are possibilities. It seems like the best I could do was narrow it down to three. These are the countries with forestry/environmental education, and the asterisks are for countries with departure dates in February:
So if you consider early February to be 15th or sooner, it's going to be:
WHAT WILL IT BE? She mentioned my language skill is important, so could it be Paraguay? Unrelated or not, that's where she served. I have no idea now.