End Lull

LullSchool started Monday and marked the end of my 2 month vagabond existence traveling from Ecuador to the US, and around Ecuador for summer camp and training. Somehow I made it back to my site without bringing any bedbug hitchhikers with me. Whew!

The summer camp I mentioned is a collaboration between Ecuadorian teachers and PCVs, and it’s funded by the US Embassy. We were escorted there in an especially nice SUV by a new Economics Officer and she had some good advice about getting into the service. Apparently, there are only around five English Language Officers in the world, so I might need to broaden my focus. She made it through on her third try, and said that it’s about getting knocked down and coming back, not passing through the first time; they want people who are dedicated. It was good to hear this from someone who has experienced the process, and the failure, all the way through to A-100.

Before I left my site, I found an amazing resource to study for the essay topics. Edx is a free online learning website hosted by researchers at MIT and Harvard. I was instantly obsessed and finished a semester-long class on justice in about four days. It’s exactly what I need to gain a broader background on a wide range of subjects.


This fall I’m taking classes on bioethics, US national security, globalization, and one that is simply called China. It’s overkill, I’m pretty sure. But, it’s also fun. Once school gets rolling again, I will be back to writing essays based on clupo1027’s very helpful formula.


First Stab

DollyBefore I post the first essay, I’ll explain how the test session is set up and some of the expectations for format, as I understand them. All of what I share is available on the State Department web page, so I’m not giving actual details from my test experience. I wouldn’t even share those with my sister.

The essay session is 30 minutes long: read the prompt, plan, write, and edit. Grammar and spell check are, or should be, disabled. Graders are at ACT and using the same rubric. The essay should follow the standard 5-paragraph structure. Writers must pick a position. They are not grading on what you say, but how clearly you present and support your position. I am unclear on how specific my references to outside sources need to be.

So, that’s it. Here’s my response to this prompt:
There are numerous viewpoints on the subject of cloning. One side feels that the long-term benefits of cloning-primarily a search for medical cures- is worth the effort, but with some restrictions. Others argue the there is a strong potential for abuse in the era of corporate corruption, dishonesty, and misunderstanding. In your view, aside from the religous and moral considerations, who should best make the determination whether cloning is legalized: doctors, politicians, or religious leaders? Carefully explain the rationale for your position.

The issue of cloning has become a polemic topic since the successful cloning of Dolly the sheep. Factions on either side of the argument are divided about whether cloning is a benefit to medical research, or an abomination that should be outlawed. As research and technology advance, it is necessary to decide whether cloning will be an accepted and regulated as a practice, or if it will be illegal. It is clear that politicians should decide whether cloning should be legalized because they understand the law, they represent the will of the people, and they are more likely to be objective participants in the decision-making.

At times politicians are chastised for their law background, but this knowledge of law makes them exactly the right people to determine how and when cloning should be used for medical research. Those who are concerned that cloning will lead inevitably to corruption and dishonesty would have their concerns alleviated if politicians were to outline the terms and uses for clones.

As the voice of the people, it is logical that politicians would decide whether cloning, for medical purposes or otherwise, should be legal. We have elected these officials to represent us and we should allow them to take the reigns in making this important decision.

The legalization or prohibition of cloning should not be left to subjective and partial religious leaders to decide. Religious leaders would be unable to separate their beliefs from the potential gains that could be made through cloning research. For this reason, politicians who are impartial should be left to decide how we proceed with cloning.

In conclusion, we must trust in our elected representatives who are familiar with the law and who are objective participants to decide if and how the ability to clone is used in society.


I’m a big edit and re-edit person, so this looks like sticks and rocks to me. Any advice will be taken into account for the next essay I write.

Many thanks.

Try, Try, Try…

There are probably some really inspiring quotes out there related to persistence

Persistence of Memory

So, I’ll cut to the chase. I am currently a Peace Corps Volunteer working in Ecuador, but this is not a Peace Corps blog. In spite of the difficulties, this the most fulfilling job I’ve ever had. Prior to the Peace Corps, I was a public school teacher in Title I schools. Before that, I did many menial, low-paying customer service jobs. Somehow, I’ve got this notion that I was made for hard, thankless tasks. They bring out the best in me, when I’m not complaining. Therefore, in my mind, the Foreign Service is the only right job for me.  I should, but don’t, have a plan B.

This is not the ideal frame of mind to have when tackling the process of joining the Foreign Service, because it is typically a drawn out one, with a few let downs along the way. For example, failing the exam portion of the essay x2, and I can only take the test once a year. The first time, I didn’t write a practice essay. Erroneously, I thought I was a better than sub-par writer. According to the essay graders at ACT, I was completely incorrect.

For this reason, I will spend the next year posting my essays here with the hope that the same people who write those scathing reviews on YouTube-those with English language skills, anyways- will come and critique my writing. At the beginning, I might cry, but by next June, my skin will be as thick as really good shoe leather, and I might be able to write a decent essay.

Thank you in advance for your input. If you are a like-minded aspirant to the Foreign Service, I would love to return the favor.