Life after Peace Corps... in Bulgaria - Friends of Bulgaria
So I heard through the grapevine that the latest group of PCVs are COSing (Close of Service, for those not familiar with all the acronyms) in a couple of weeks. I know the Peace Corps office in Sofia is surely inundating you with information on what to do when you get to the States, the reverse culture shock that will be inevitable when you walk into a Wal-Mart or Costco, and the Peace Corps resources that are available as far as NCE (Non-Competitive Eligibility for government jobs), the National Peace Corps Association and Hotline, Peace Corps Response, etc.

There are probably also a handful of you thinking of staying a third year in your service or leaving PC but not Bulgaria. There are definitely other options available there if you're creative enough and exercise those networking skills. Whether it's teaching English in a school in Sofia or interning with a non-profit organization, definitely make sure to ask around, especially to older RPCV groups and the Peace Corps office in Sofia for connections into life after Peace Corps. There are definitely a handful (or more) of RPCVs who are living and working in Bulgaria in various capacities.

After COSing in July 2009, I started a Public Administration Master's Program in New York but returned to Bulgaria last summer to intern with the Cedar Foundation, a great NGO started by expats to deinstitutionalize orphanages and homes for mentally and physically disabled youth and children. They've been doing some incredible work in Kazanluk and Kyustendil/Bobov Dol and have some PC connections as well. Two RPCVs settled at the organization for several years, which is how I found my connection to intern there.

B21 Krista Greiner also ended up staying in Bulgaria an extra year to teach English at the Zlatarksi International School in Sofia and had quite a sweet set-up, I must say, while Jeff Warner, also B21 who is in the middle of his Masters program at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, interned this summer at the Center for the Study of Democracy. B21 Molly Freedman Latinova and B17 Nikola Otlans both worked as trainers for newly arrived PC trainees for the Peace Corps Bulgaria office last April.

Another opportunity, if you're planning on going to graduate school for international affairs or public policy is to apply for the US State Department's summer internship program. Another RPCV Bulgaria, Greg N. (can't remember his group number) interned at the embassy in Sofia during his summer between law school in 2008. I actually also applied for this internship last summer and was accepted, but my security clearance never came through, so just beware, it can be a lengthy process, so start early! It's a great IN if you're interested in the foreign service or State Department's Civil Service.

There's a slew of stuff out there. So network! With PCVs, RPCVs, the expat community, and your BG community. I know it can be a chore, but it's really worth it. I even ran into an RPCV last summer in Sofia who was a B10 or thereabouts that worked with a film studio looking for English native-speakers for acting and voice-over roles and he got me a tiny voice-over part on an Italian TV show! Random, I know. If you're also planning on more travel, this community is a great resource. I think about ten B21s and several B22s also ended up teaching English in South Korea after Peace Corps for more adventures. So there's lots of stuff out there. And hey, you never know!

As always всичко хубаво,

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