I was hired at Art One Gallery, Inc. in October of 2005 on a whim. I met Kraig in his Phoenix space during a summer First Fridays event. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t even looking for a new employee, but I was hired about a week later leaving my barista position at Starbucks. I may have brought up my interest in the Peace Corps to Kraig during this time. Just out of high school, I was young and confused with the unlimited possibilities of my future. The Peace Corps requires a Bachelors degree minimum; if that was to be something I wanted to pursue, then I would have to get an education. So, I did – and I loved it. I graduated from Arizona State University in December of 2009 with a BLA in Philosophy. First generation graduate.
I applied for the Peace Corps in May of 2009, just prior to my last semester at ASU. After 14 trying months, I have finally been invited to the US Peace Corps! I was originally nominated to the TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) program in the North Africa/Middle East region – the only countries served in this region are Morocco and Jordan. In an attempt to build my resume and suitability for this program, in the Spring of 2010 I was given the opportunity to teach English part-time to 6-8th grade students at New School for the Arts & Academics in Tempe. I learned a lot that semester working with the kids, finding out what works and what simply does not work.
The final interview and evaluation was in the form of a 30-minute phone call. I was told that, since I was not an English nor an education major, I would not be suitable for the TEFL program. “However,” my Placement Office proclaimed “we found that you would be perfect for this other program in the Unique Skills area!” I thought to myself, “huh?” She said, “When I saw your application, I knew you were a perfect fit. We have a program where you would work with emerging artists in small business development.” –This program could not be more perfect! Since this does fall within the Unique Skills category, I will be the only volunteer working in this program. Although it’s not 100%, it looks like I will be going to Morocco in September.
It didn’t take me long to realize that all of my qualifications, all of the reasons I was invited to serve in the Peace Corps, came as a direct result from the time spent here at Art One. Kraig has given me the tools to feel both comfortable and confident in the program to which I am elected. I could not be more grateful for the time that I have spent and the people I have met while working here. So, I thank you. Thanks for everything that you, as clients, have taught me. I realize that without Art One, without our clients, this crazy dream of mine never could have materialized. Keep me in your thoughts and hope for both my safety and sanity.
If you are interested in following me in this incredible adventure, feel free to visit my blog, which I hope to update regularly.
Jeffrey D. Palmer