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  • Writer's pictureLynn Nestingen

From Uncertainty to Namibia: My Peace Corps Journey

Updated: 5 days ago

Here I am in Namibia after six months of uncertainty and I wanted to share the steps to this this point in life for anyone who may be interested...

1986: Applied for the 2-year Peace Corps program in my early 20s. I specifically remember where I was and what I was doing when I opened the letter that said I was not accepted. That pit in your stomach with each rejection is real and can hurt to the core...until...

While it wasn't a total life setback, it obviously was for the better since I eventually married my “rock” and we would go on to bring three amazing kids into the world. I guess you could say "it all started with this kiss" on the top of one of our many 14'er climbs in Colorado!

A beautiful kiss at 14,428-foot-high on the top of Mt. Massive Notice the BLUE Gortex coats - it was the latest in high altitude technology and I still have our Gortex Coats tucked away in storage!

July 1, 2023: After working in higher education and arts management for over 35 years, I officially gave notice to retire as Executive Director for Augustana Arts without any solid plans for what to do next.

July through November:  My initial idea was to purchase an RV and travel along the East Coast—something Philip and I dreamed of doing in retirement years. unfair that I am retired now and he never experienced life without computer work...but it's a career he truly loved!

November 13, 2023: On a total whim, I applied for the position as "Grant Writing Training Specialist" for the Ministry of Education, Arts, and Culture in Namibia. It was the ONLY position that I qualified to apply for.

December 14, 2023: Interviewed with the PC Placement Recruiter via Zoom.

December 17, 2023:  Received the approval and invitation to serve by the Peace Corps and Namibian Ministry Directorate.

December 18 2023: Let the party begin with holidays and retirement, combined....

January through April: It was a whirlwind for the next four months to jump through all the clearance requirements, including dental exams, lab work, shots, background checks, and more. The list was long, and I took it one step at a time. Dec. 15 - official invitation; March 22 - medical/dental clearances; April 10 - Legal Clearance! It's official.....

January through May, 2024: I also posted my house for rent on Zillow and finished all the things I had deferred up until this point including the outdoor kitchen, sliding barn door, etc., etc.

I packed as much as I could into my 20’ x 20’ basement room (thank you for building it, Rebekah!!), painted the garage, along with many other loose maintenance tasks to get done before we could rent the house! We finally secured a tenant for a year, and thankfully I have an awesome Property Manager to take care of the place (thank you, Erik!!).

May 11: Departed for Namibia via Newark, followed by a 14-hour flight to Johannesburg, SA. The next day, I took a quick flight to Windhoek, and we were quickly transported via van to King’s Highway Retreat Center in Okahandja (about 73 km north of Windhoek) for 2 ½ weeks of training.

The training has been a whirlwind ever since, but I'm learning a lot not just about Namibia, but also about humanity and the goodness of people from all backgrounds, ages, and walks of life!

And there you have it...5 months of uncertainty and some heavy doses of anxiety and impatience as it all unfolded in due time.

Huge thanks to my family and friends who kept me calm and encouraged each step of the way when it felt arduous and nerve-wracking! At my age, who knows what they could find in my mouth such as older fillings and cakey arteries, but thankfully I pulled through in good health and received all my clearances just in time to depart on May 11!

So for anyone in the process of applying, be patient and trudge on through. Can you remain calm in the realm of uncertainty? Are you patient with red tape and protocol? Do you know how to "go with the flow?" If so, then you would probably do just fine in the Peace Corps.

I can't wait to share more about the wonderful people I have met here already and the journey that is about to unfold....

Until I write again - trudge on and live for today! Hic Et Nunc!

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