Difference between pages "Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Thailand" and "Packing list for Guatemala"

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{{Packing lists by country}}
In fulfilling its mandate to share the face of America with host countries, the Peace Corps is making special efforts to see that all of America’s richness is reflected in the Volunteer corps. More Americans of color are serving in today’s Peace Corps than at any time in recent years. Differences in race, ethnic background, age, religion, and sexual orientation are expected and welcomed among our Volunteers. Part of the Peace Corps’ mission is to help dispel any notion that Americans are all of one origin or race and to establish that each of us is as thoroughly American as the other despite our many differences.
 
  
Our diversity helps us accomplish that goal. In other ways, however, it poses challenges. In Thailand, as in other Peace Corps host countries, Volunteers’ behavior, lifestyle, background, and beliefs are judged in a cultural context very different from their own. Certain personal perspectives or characteristics commonly accepted in the United States may be quite uncommon, unacceptable, or even repressed in Thailand.  
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This list has been compiled by Volunteers serving in [[Guatemala]] and is based on their experience. Use it as an informal guide in making your own list, bearing in mind that each experience is individual. In addition, the climate in Guatemala varies greatly from cold to hot. The training center, in Santa Lucia Milpas Altas (near Antigua), is at high altitude. Therefore it can be very cold at night and in the training rooms during the morning hours. It can be quite cold for the training group that arrives in January, and quite rainy for the other two groups that arrive later in the calendar year.  
  
Outside of Thailand’s capital and other cities, many residents have had relatively little sustained exposure to other cultures, races, religions, and lifestyles, though they may have had some contact with the many tourists who visit each year. What people view as typical American behavior or norms may be a misconception, such as the belief that all Americans are rich and have blond hair and blue eyes.  
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It is important to keep this in mind while packing and be sure to pack accordingly (think layers!). There is no perfect list! You obviously cannot bring everything we mention, so consider those items that make the most sense to you personally and professionally. As you decide what to bring, keep in mind that you have an 80-pound weight restriction on baggage. And remember, you can get almost everything you need in Guatemala.  
  
The people of Thailand are justly known for their generous hospitality to foreigners. However, members of the community in which you will live may display a range of reactions to cultural differences that you present.
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===Clothes===
  
To ease the transition and adapt to life in Thailand, you may need to make some temporary, yet fundamental compromises in how you present yourself as an American and as an individual. For example, female trainees and Volunteers may not be able to exercise the independence available to them in the United States; political discussions need to be handled with great care; and some of your personal beliefs may best remain undisclosed. You will need to develop techniques and personal strategies for coping with these and other limitations.  The Peace Corps staff will lead diversity and sensitivity discussions during pre-service training and will be on call to provide support, but the challenge ultimately will be your own.
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===General Clothing===
  
===Overview of Diversity in Thailand ===
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* Two to three pairs nice pants (lightweight that quick dry can be helpful)
 +
* Two to four pairs work pants or jeans
 +
* Six T-shirts or short sleeve polo shirts
 +
* Two to three blouses or dress shirts
 +
* One to two pairs of shorts (not short-shorts) 
 +
* Two week supply of cotton underwear and socks
 +
* One pair long underwear
 +
* Two to three medium-weight sweater/sweatshirt
 +
* One medium-weight jacket or fleece
 +
* One poncho or rain coat (rain pants optional and advised by some) For Men
 +
* A few ties, one or two nice dress shirts and a sport coat (optional) for formal occasions For Women
 +
* Two casual and one dress-up dresses
 +
* Two to three “going-out” outfits
  
Although the majority of Thailand’s population is both Buddhist and ethnically and linguistically Thai, there are regional linguistic, cultural, and socioeconomic differences.  The presence of many non-Thai groups also contributes to the diversity of the country. Thais generally emphasize their commonalities and the strengths that diversity contributes to their country. When differences are expressed, it is generally in subtle ways that require linguistic and cultural understanding to grasp. Thais’ emphasis on tolerance, maintaining smooth relationships, and a sense of order creates a generally welcome environment for Volunteers.
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===Other Clothing Items===
  
Despite the ideal of social harmony, there are some conflicts, which are readily apparent in the tabloid press. Thailand’s social structure includes an inherent hierarchy, with competing beliefs about who is entitled to what. Thais often attempt to hide conflict from guests, something you may experience with your colleagues. Nevertheless, Thais manage to find extraordinarily beautiful ways to maintain harmony in the face of diversity, many of which you will no doubt find intriguing.
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* Belt
 +
* Handkerchiefs or bandanas
 +
* Running or athletic gear (if you are into sports)
 +
* One to two bathing suits
 +
* Two hats (sun hats, visors, or caps with bill)
 +
* One stocking cap (for colder weather)
 +
* One pair of lightweight gloves
 +
* Sunglasses
  
The Peace Corps staff in Thailand recognizes the adjustment issues that come with diversity and will endeavor to provide support and guidance. During pre-service training, several sessions will be held to discuss diversity and coping mechanisms. We look forward to having male and female Volunteers from a variety of races, ethnic groups, ages, religions, and sexual orientations, and hope that you will become part of a diverse group of Americans who take pride in supporting one another and demonstrating the richness of American culture.  
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NOTE: The general characteristics for clothes are sturdy, easily washable, iron-free (if possible), and conservative.  
  
===What Might a Volunteer Face? ===
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Bring what you are comfortable in, for example things you would wear on a weekend in the states. You do not need to change your whole style because you are a Volunteer. Good quality, used clothes are available in many Guatemalan markets or stores (called ropa Americana). Additionally, many Volunteers have noted their work requires business casual for special meetings or events. As one Volunteer noted: “Although many items on this list may seem like it, you are not preparing for a two-year camping trip, nor do you need to.”
  
Thai hospitality is legendary. You are unlikely to experience direct confrontation if you practice the basic do’s and don’ts introduced in pre-service training and balance your needs with those of your Thai co-workers and community members.  Of course, the Peace Corps cannot control every host country national’s treatment of you, nor would you want such intrusion. You should be able to handle most situations on your own. Some Volunteers may experience blatant bigotry, but subtle discrimination is more common. Part of your role as a Volunteer is to promote, through your actions and behavior, a more thorough understanding of the United States and Americans among the people in your community.
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===Other Items===
  
Thai people are very direct in regards to physical appearance in a manner that may be considered rude by American standards. Volunteers should expect to hear comments about their height, weight, hair, etc.
+
===Shoes===
  
The following information is provided to help you prepare for challenges you may encounter in Thailand based on your gender, ethnic or racial background, age, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, or disabilities.  
+
* One or two pairs of sturdy, walking tennis/cross-training shoes
 +
* One pair of hiking boots or water proof shoes
 +
* One to two pairs comfortable casual/dress shoe
 +
* One pair sport and dress sandals
 +
* One pair farm/mud boots (for agriculture Volunteers).  Rubber boots are also very easy to buy in Guatemala.
  
====Possible Issues for Female Volunteers ====
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NOTE: The overall selection and quality of shoes in Guatemala is more limited than the US. It is difficult to find women’s shoes larger than size 9 and men’s shoes larger than size 10. If you have larger feet, you may want to consider a plan for getting extra shoes once the ones you bring wear out (e.g., bringing a two-year supply, having people bring you shoes when they come to visit, or arranging for people to send them to you).
  
In recent years, the proportion of female Volunteers in Thailand has reached close to 75 percent, including those who are married. Most female Volunteers experience a high degree of security in their communities and when they travel within the country. Physical harassment is not common, but precautions still need to be taken. The higher status of men compared with women can manifest in both subtle and not-sosubtle ways. For example, women are often expected to take on more work than men are, and they often do so. This can be frustrating for both female and male Volunteers. Additionally, young females may face an uphill battle to gain the respect of their male Thai counterparts as age and experience is often valued over youth and enthusiasm—especially for women.
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===Personal Hygiene and Toiletry Items ===
  
====Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color ====
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* Your regular hygiene items (e.g., soap, shampoo, shaving cream, etc.) to get you started (replacements/ refills are easily bought here)
 +
* Three-month supply of prescription medicine
 +
* Extra pair of prescription glasses
  
Many Thais are not well-informed about the ethnic and racial diversity of the United States, and they therefore expect Volunteers to be Caucasian. In addition, many Thais view lighter skin as more beautiful, a perception based more on an aesthetic bias than any racial prejudice and one that existed long before encounters between Thailand and the West. African-American Volunteers, in particular, should not take Thais’ views of skin color personally and should try to see them within this context. In addition, people in villages may have a difficult time seeing some people of color as Americans.  
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NOTE: Peace Corps nurses will supply you with over-the-counter medicines such as: vitamins, painkillers, cold medicines, tampons, etc.  
  
Unfortunately, in recent years, heroin smugglers have used West-African nationals to smuggle drugs out of Thailand, which has led to a belief among some Thais that American blacks are Africans who smuggle drugs. Fortunately, professional and personal relationships between African-American Volunteers and their Thai counterparts have broken down these stereotypes.
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===Miscellaneous ===
  
It is common for Asian Americans to be mistaken for Thais, which can have both benefits and drawbacks. One advantage is that Asian Americans blend better into the community and thus may not receive as much unwanted attention in public.  A disadvantage is that Thais may initially expect you to have the language skills of a native speaker. Thai friends told one Asian-American Volunteer that they were disappointed they did not get a “real American” as they had requested. This Volunteer also felt that her Thai co-workers initially valued her less than they valued Caucasian Volunteers because they thought an Asian American was not very different from a Thai. But once people know you are not Thai, you are likely receive the same celebrity treatment that most foreigners receive in Thailand.  
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* One to two sets of flat sheets and pillow cases for a full bed
 
+
* Two bath towels (quick dry towels are convenient for travel)
If you are an Asian American, Thais may ask you about your ethnic origin, wanting to know the country of your ancestors. Thailand is home to many Asian minority groups related to contemporary Chinese, Burmese, Khmer, and Lao peoples, many of whom lived in the area before there was a distinct country known as Siam (later Thailand). The small Vietnamese population arrived primarily in the 1950s, and most have remained in the northeastern Thai towns and cities where they took refuge.
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* Flashlight (headlamps are popular)
 
+
* Sturdy backpack/duffel bag for three- or four-day trips
====Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers ====
+
* Day pack/Small backpack
 
+
* Watch (fairly cheap and water-resistant/proof, although cell phones can also serve as a watch.)
Thai government workers are subject to a mandatory retirement age of 60 (with exceptions for some with specialized skills), so Volunteers over 60 will have Thai coworkers who are younger than they are. Thais give great respect and importance to senior family members, and senior Volunteers often receive similar deference and respect, though this does not necessarily translate to greater respect for their professional competence or technical knowledge. Your co-workers may smile, nod, and appear to agree with you when the opposite is true, perhaps because they do not want to offend you.
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* Small travel alarm clock (Most people use the alarm on their cell phone.)
 
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* Money belt (30% of PCVs in Guatemala report theft so this is almost a necessity)  
Although more seniors are joining the Peace Corps nowadays, most of your fellow trainees are likely to be under age 30, and the Thai training staff is largely composed of recent college graduates. Generally, seniors are warmly accepted by other trainees; still, there may be times when you miss interacting with people of your own age, especially in social situations.  
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* One water bottle
 
+
* Pocketknife (basic knife, corkscrew, screwdriver model is very handy, e.g., Leatherman)
The Thai language trainers recognize the different learning styles and needs of seniors and will endeavor to provide the most suitable training for older trainees.  
+
* Shortwave radio
 
+
* Start-up supply of stationery, pens, journal, etc.  
====Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers ====
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* Light sleeping bag and sleeping pad (e.g., thermarest)
 
+
* Digital camera (blank CDs are cheap for copying files). Film developing is also easily still accessible in many towns.  
Thais do not usually view bisexuality and homosexuality as sinful or unnatural, nor are there criminal penalties against sexual acts between members of the same sex. However, some bisexual and homosexual Volunteers have found it necessary to adjust their behavior to be effective in their jobs and respected by members of their communities. Most choose to remain “in the closet” to Thai friends and co-workers at their sites.  
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* Good scissors
 
+
* Photos of family, friends, and home (Guatemalans will LOVE to see your photos)
Physical contact in public between members of the same sex (such as linking arms while walking down the street) is a common way for Thais to show affection, and it is important for Volunteers to realize that such displays of affection likely are nonsexual in nature. Volunteers who are accustomed to being part of a large gay community in the United States may not get the support to which they are accustomed. However, gay communities do exist in urban centers such as Bangkok and Chiang Mai, and you will probably find significant support within the Peace Corps community.  
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* Decks of cards and favorite board games are popular
 
+
* Small sewing kit
All women will have to deal with questions or teasing about boyfriends, marriage, and sex. All men will have to deal with questions about American women and girl watching and may be pressured by co-workers to visit brothels. During pre-service training, trainees are encouraged to think through these issues and plan possible responses.  
+
* One or two books to get you through training (PC has a very large library/ book exchange)
 
+
* Travel guide to Guatemala 
====Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers ====
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* Music (Many PCVs have iPods, although they are targets for theft. Some people bring small radio/CD/MP3 players, but others buy them in Guatemala.) CDs are sold in every market at very cheap prices.  
 
+
* Small, basic cookbook/favorite recipes (Peace Corps/ Guatemala also sells Que Rico! a cookbook of Volunteer-compiled recipes that are easily prepared with common items sold at market)
A high degree of religious tolerance exists in Thailand. It is doubtful that any religious issues will arise, unless one breaks the Peace Corps’ prohibition against proselytizing by Volunteers.
+
* Duct tape
 
+
* Instrument (harmonica, guitar, etc.)
====Possible Issues for Volunteers With Disabilities ====
+
* Comfort foods (favorite snack foods)
 
+
* USB storage stick 4 GB (easy to use and hardier than disks for saving important documents)
Thais’ respect for others extends to individuals with disabilities, and the country has made efforts to help disabled individuals have productive jobs and lives. One example is the tradition of blind masseuses and masseurs in Thailand.  In addition, schools are beginning to mainstream those with disabilities into regular classrooms.  
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*      Laptop or netbook computers are very useful, just be aware that computer theft can be common on public buses so the property insurance policy is a good idea.
 
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[[Category:Guatemala]]
Volunteers with disabilities need to be aware of the rigors of the Peace Corps/Thailand program during both training and service. Trainees and Volunteers are expected to arrange their own transportation to the various training venues and workplaces. Any special accommodations needed during training and when at one’s site, such as an alternative to travel by bicycle, should be made known during the placement process in the United States, prior to arrival in Thailand.  
 
 
 
 
 
[[Category:Thailand]]
 

Revision as of 20:06, 20 November 2010


Packing List for [[{{#explode:Packing list for Guatemala| |3}} {{#explode:Packing list for Guatemala| |4}} {{#explode:Packing list for Guatemala| |5}}]]

Packing Lists by Country

These lists has been compiled by Volunteers serving in [[{{#explode:Packing list for Guatemala| |3}} {{#explode:Packing list for Guatemala| |4}} {{#explode:Packing list for Guatemala| |5}}]] based on their experience. Use it as an informal guide in making your own list, bearing in mind that experience is individual. There is no perfect list!
  • [[Packing list for {{#explode:Packing list for Guatemala| |3}} {{#explode:Packing list for Guatemala| |4}} {{#explode:Packing list for Guatemala| |5}}]]
  • [[Training in {{#explode:Packing list for Guatemala| |3}} {{#explode:Packing list for Guatemala| |4}} {{#explode:Packing list for Guatemala| |5}}]]
  • [[Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in {{#explode:Packing list for Guatemala| |3}} {{#explode:Packing list for Guatemala| |4}} {{#explode:Packing list for Guatemala| |5}}]]
  • [[Health care and safety in {{#explode:Packing list for Guatemala| |3}} {{#explode:Packing list for Guatemala| |4}} {{#explode:Packing list for Guatemala| |5}}]]
  • [[Diversity and cross-cultural issues in {{#explode:Packing list for Guatemala| |3}} {{#explode:Packing list for Guatemala| |4}} {{#explode:Packing list for Guatemala| |5}}]]
  • [[FAQs about Peace Corps in {{#explode:Packing list for Guatemala| |3}} {{#explode:Packing list for Guatemala| |4}} {{#explode:Packing list for Guatemala| |5}}]]
  • [[History of the Peace Corps in {{#explode:Packing list for Guatemala| |3}} {{#explode:Packing list for Guatemala| |4}} {{#explode:Packing list for Guatemala| |5}}]]
[[Image:Flag_of_{{#explode:Packing list for Guatemala| |3}}{{#if:{{#explode:Packing list for Guatemala| |4}}|_{{#explode:Packing list for Guatemala| |4}}|}}{{#if:{{#explode:Packing list for Guatemala| |5}}|_{{#explode:Packing list for Guatemala| |5}}|}}.svg|50px|none]]

See also:
Pre-Departure Checklist
Staging Timeline

For information see Welcomebooks

[[Category:{{#explode:Packing list for Guatemala| |3}} {{#explode:Packing list for Guatemala| |4}} {{#explode:Packing list for Guatemala| |5}}]]

This list has been compiled by Volunteers serving in Guatemala and is based on their experience. Use it as an informal guide in making your own list, bearing in mind that each experience is individual. In addition, the climate in Guatemala varies greatly from cold to hot. The training center, in Santa Lucia Milpas Altas (near Antigua), is at high altitude. Therefore it can be very cold at night and in the training rooms during the morning hours. It can be quite cold for the training group that arrives in January, and quite rainy for the other two groups that arrive later in the calendar year.

It is important to keep this in mind while packing and be sure to pack accordingly (think layers!). There is no perfect list! You obviously cannot bring everything we mention, so consider those items that make the most sense to you personally and professionally. As you decide what to bring, keep in mind that you have an 80-pound weight restriction on baggage. And remember, you can get almost everything you need in Guatemala.

Clothes

General Clothing

  • Two to three pairs nice pants (lightweight that quick dry can be helpful)
  • Two to four pairs work pants or jeans
  • Six T-shirts or short sleeve polo shirts
  • Two to three blouses or dress shirts
  • One to two pairs of shorts (not short-shorts)
  • Two week supply of cotton underwear and socks
  • One pair long underwear
  • Two to three medium-weight sweater/sweatshirt
  • One medium-weight jacket or fleece
  • One poncho or rain coat (rain pants optional and advised by some) For Men
  • A few ties, one or two nice dress shirts and a sport coat (optional) for formal occasions For Women
  • Two casual and one dress-up dresses
  • Two to three “going-out” outfits

Other Clothing Items

  • Belt
  • Handkerchiefs or bandanas
  • Running or athletic gear (if you are into sports)
  • One to two bathing suits
  • Two hats (sun hats, visors, or caps with bill)
  • One stocking cap (for colder weather)
  • One pair of lightweight gloves
  • Sunglasses

NOTE: The general characteristics for clothes are sturdy, easily washable, iron-free (if possible), and conservative.

Bring what you are comfortable in, for example things you would wear on a weekend in the states. You do not need to change your whole style because you are a Volunteer. Good quality, used clothes are available in many Guatemalan markets or stores (called ropa Americana). Additionally, many Volunteers have noted their work requires business casual for special meetings or events. As one Volunteer noted: “Although many items on this list may seem like it, you are not preparing for a two-year camping trip, nor do you need to.”

Other Items

Shoes

  • One or two pairs of sturdy, walking tennis/cross-training shoes
  • One pair of hiking boots or water proof shoes
  • One to two pairs comfortable casual/dress shoe
  • One pair sport and dress sandals
  • One pair farm/mud boots (for agriculture Volunteers). Rubber boots are also very easy to buy in Guatemala.

NOTE: The overall selection and quality of shoes in Guatemala is more limited than the US. It is difficult to find women’s shoes larger than size 9 and men’s shoes larger than size 10. If you have larger feet, you may want to consider a plan for getting extra shoes once the ones you bring wear out (e.g., bringing a two-year supply, having people bring you shoes when they come to visit, or arranging for people to send them to you).

Personal Hygiene and Toiletry Items

  • Your regular hygiene items (e.g., soap, shampoo, shaving cream, etc.) to get you started (replacements/ refills are easily bought here)
  • Three-month supply of prescription medicine
  • Extra pair of prescription glasses

NOTE: Peace Corps nurses will supply you with over-the-counter medicines such as: vitamins, painkillers, cold medicines, tampons, etc.

Miscellaneous

  • One to two sets of flat sheets and pillow cases for a full bed
  • Two bath towels (quick dry towels are convenient for travel)
  • Flashlight (headlamps are popular)
  • Sturdy backpack/duffel bag for three- or four-day trips
  • Day pack/Small backpack
  • Watch (fairly cheap and water-resistant/proof, although cell phones can also serve as a watch.)
  • Small travel alarm clock (Most people use the alarm on their cell phone.)
  • Money belt (30% of PCVs in Guatemala report theft so this is almost a necessity)
  • One water bottle
  • Pocketknife (basic knife, corkscrew, screwdriver model is very handy, e.g., Leatherman)
  • Shortwave radio
  • Start-up supply of stationery, pens, journal, etc.
  • Light sleeping bag and sleeping pad (e.g., thermarest)
  • Digital camera (blank CDs are cheap for copying files). Film developing is also easily still accessible in many towns.
  • Good scissors
  • Photos of family, friends, and home (Guatemalans will LOVE to see your photos)
  • Decks of cards and favorite board games are popular
  • Small sewing kit
  • One or two books to get you through training (PC has a very large library/ book exchange)
  • Travel guide to Guatemala
  • Music (Many PCVs have iPods, although they are targets for theft. Some people bring small radio/CD/MP3 players, but others buy them in Guatemala.) CDs are sold in every market at very cheap prices.
  • Small, basic cookbook/favorite recipes (Peace Corps/ Guatemala also sells Que Rico! a cookbook of Volunteer-compiled recipes that are easily prepared with common items sold at market)
  • Duct tape
  • Instrument (harmonica, guitar, etc.)
  • Comfort foods (favorite snack foods)
  • USB storage stick 4 GB (easy to use and hardier than disks for saving important documents)
  • Laptop or netbook computers are very useful, just be aware that computer theft can be common on public buses so the property insurance policy is a good idea.