Their reason for turning us down was that we are not willing to go anywhere in the world, and they wanted to send us to sub-Saharan Africa. It's not that we have anything against sub-Saharan Africa, it's just that our goals and desires for our two year service do not match a placement there. Their new policy (instated sometime since the last time I applied, in 2001-2002) is that all volunteers must be totally geographically flexible or are not qualified for service. This policy is in spite of the fact that one of the big questions in your application is where you want to go , and that they nominate you for a certain region (we were nominated for Latin America months ago) and expect you to fulfill certain requirements specific to that region (i.e. language credits, that turn out to be rather expensive) in order to get to the placement step. We reached the placement step at the end of last week, and the placement officer insisted that she has to go with what is open at that time. That means that once a potential volunteer reaches that placement step, they do not wait to see what will open up - so it is a crapshoot if there is something available at the exact time when your medical and legal clearances go through. Hmm.
So we are now looking for other paths to a one- to two-year, affordable term in Central or South America. Internships, volunteering, and just going down there and finding something (bartending? why not?) are all being explored. The catch is that many organizations require you to pay them to volunteer on top of paying for a place to stay, medical insurance, and your plane ticket, etc. We would love to have the experience be relevant to our future work, preferably something environmentally focused. We want to improve our Spanish, so we would like to be somewhere doing something that requires the use of Spanish. Suggestions are always welcome. We already have a few, thankfully - it makes it easier to take the Peace Corps let-down.
Another thing that helps us through our frustration is the fact that we work at an awesome job with awesome people. So here's a shout-out to the Rock Eagle crew - if I were to say you all rock, that would be just too easy of a joke and I'd have to roll my eyes.
Edit after the original posting: The really rough news this week (which I didn't feel I could write about here until it was announced by my brother and sister-in-law, which it now has been), is that they lost their twins at the 12- or 13-week mark of her pregnancy. She had been having troubles since Thursday, and today finally had to terminate. I'm so incredibly sorry for them. So yes, the tough week was not just caused by the Peace Corps let-down, but by true trajedy.
Here's to hoping next week is better, and healing is on the way.