So in this episode of “As the Peace Corps turns”… We return to find the heroine of the plot distraught and wondering “Can’t she just get a freaking break already?”
So picture this.. I am sleeping away this past Friday having not even had my alarm go off for the first time after Fajr prayer and my cellphone which also happens to be my alarm clock starts ringing.
I grab it and blear eyed totally near sightedly hold the phone about an inch in front of my eyeball to read the number that would dare to call me before I hit my snooze button once.
Huh… its the Peace Corps.. ignore. It can’t be a big deal .. I mean I just sent off my DS- 82 like.. on Monday.
Collapse back on my pillow and stare blindly at the ceiling. Aww F it.. no way I am going back to sleep now.
Snatch up the phone and call the random DC number back.
Someone way too perky answers the phone and says.. Oh well we have an issue with your DS-82.
In my mind I am thinking – crap WHAT now?!
Oh well there is this regulation that states your passport photo has to match the photo you sent in with your DS- 82. We had an issue with another person who sent in their application and had it rejected so – we thought we would help you out by letting you know your options before it gets rejected.
So your options are – cue the drum roll for the sucky options-
1. Pay for a whole new passport out of your own pocket to it matches the photo you sent
2. Send in photos without your hijab on to match your current valid passport.
I said thank you and I will think about the options and get back to you. In the mean time can you email me a written copy of this regulation?
Wow.. both options really blow – and neither one is viable given A. No way you’re getting a photo of me without hijab – I mean you already have one and B. I can’t afford a $200 new passport – I am an Ameri Corp member – at the end of the month I am lucky if I have two pennies to rub together.
The email chain goes something like –
Huh.. really is this regulation on the State Department website by any chance? No.
Do you have a copy of this regulation that I can see? No. Actually I don’t know where its written but its there and you know its in the works. I really don’t want your DS- 82 to be rejected and foul up your Peace Corps plans. So you only have the two options I mentioned before.
Well according to the State Department website – I have done everything I was supposed to –
I took a photo that reflects my current daily appearance
and I submitted a written statement that says I wear hijab daily for religious reasons.
Isn’t there another solution? No.. in fact even her manager who has a Muslim name agreed that I only had the two options she presented to me.
I have to say.. I was extremely disappointed to know someone named Muhammad would tell a Muslim woman – sorry these are your options basically.
He did however supply the email address because there isn’t a direct number to the Special Issuance Agency of the State Department available to the public.
So I spent all weekend crafting my letter knowing that my DS – 82 could hang in the balance and then Monday had my coworker a former State Department employee look it over and did three more edits.
Before calling the Peace Corps travel agency and speaking with the original person I spoke to and then to her supervisor letting them know I want them to submit my DS -82 and have it rejected if the letter along with my Shahada certificate I submit to the Special Issuance Office doesn’t have a favorable return.
I was on pins and needles let me tell you! The US government isn’t exactly known for swift action.. the closest it gets to swift is glacial.
And yet ..Alhumdualillah – the Special Issuance Office came back with an email in less than 30 minutes – saying the letter I had submitted with my DS-82 was enough proof along with my Shahada Certificate.
Whooohoooo! I was over the moon! Score one for Team follows the rules and knows their State Department regulations!
During this whole madness I spotted a great hadith on the tests we face in this life and it really helped me stay strong and not give in to the two horrible options presented to me before I pushed back and was able to get a 3rd option-
“Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Messenger, peace be upon him, said, “If Allah wants good for someone, He afflicts him with trials.”
[Sahih Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 70, Number 548]
Well apparently the Peace Corps process is just another in a series of trials. Alhumdualillah.
Return next time to see if our steadfast heroine moves forward through the rest of her Peace Corps paperwork and actually posts part two to her RIS conference reflections on .. “As the Peace Corps turns.”