Difference between pages "China" and "Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues in Bangladesh"

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{{CountryboxAlternative
 
|Countryname = China
 
|CountryCode = ch
 
|status = [[ACTIVE]]
 
|Map = Ch-map.gif
 
|Welcomebooklink = http://www.peacecorps.gov/welcomebooks/cnwb366.pdf
 
|Region = [[Asia]]
 
|CountryDirector = [[Mikel Herrington]]
 
|Sectors = [[English Education]]
 
|ProgramDates = [[1993]] - [[Present]]
 
|CurrentlyServing = 115
 
|TotalVolunteers = 516
 
|Languages = [[Chinese (Mandarin)]]
 
|Flag = Flag_of_China.svg
 
|stagingdate= Jun 30 2013
 
|stagingcity= San Francisco
 
}}
 
  
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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.  
Please check out: [[Volunteers Supporting Volunteers]] (VSV)for up-to-date information on PC China, VSV pages were composed and are edited by volunteers currently serving in China. The VSV pages serve to complement the information below but the information is often more candid.  
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Volunteers Supporting Volunteers (VSV) is a group of China PCVs who make themselves available to speak confidentially with volunteers who may be feeling stress with their assignment, relationships, or daily living in China. If you are a current volunteer or have been invited to volunteer in China, feel free to contact them any questions or concerns (pcchina.vsv at gmail.com).  
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Our diversity helps us accomplish that goal. In other ways, however, it poses challenges. In Bangladesh, 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 Bangladesh.  
*[[Volunteers_Supporting_Volunteers#For_Invitees]]
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*[[Volunteers_Supporting_Volunteers#Cultural_Differences_and_a_Diverse_Corps]]
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*[[Anecdotes_from_China_PCVs]]
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*[[FAQS_from_the_China_Volunteer_Perspective]]
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Outside of Bangladesh’s capital, residents of rural communities have had relatively little direct exposure to other cultures, races, religions, and lifestyles. 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. The people of Bangladesh 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.
  
'''China''' has a long, rich and complex history. Chinese people are proud of their culture and their ancient past and, at the same time, moving forward in a rapidly changing environment. With a population of 1.3 billion people, China is home to nearly 20% of the world's population. Through the Peace Corps, Volunteers are able to live and work in China, learn Mandarin -- the world's most spoken language -- and experience the intricacies and nuances of the culture.
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To ease the transition and adapt to life in Bangladesh, 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 be on call to provide support, but the challenge ultimately will be your own.  
  
Countrywide, China has a shortage of 500,000 English teachers. In 1993 the first group of eighteen Peace Corps Volunteers were sent at the request of the Chinese government. Volunteers participating in the pilot project taught English at the university level. English education continues to be a top priority for the universities in China.
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===Overview of Diversity in Bangladesh===
  
Currently 114 Volunteers are teaching English in more than 62 universities, including five medical colleges and four vocational colleges. Peace Corps Volunteers are known as "U.S.-China Friendship Volunteers" to their students and colleagues. Volunteers teach English at colleges and universities within four regions of Western China: Sichuan, Guizhou, Gansu, and Chongqing.
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The Peace Corps staff in Bangladesh 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.  
  
Common classes assigned to Volunteers include: Oral English, Listening Comprehension, Reading, Writing, Western Culture, Literature, and Linguistics. Secondary projects instigated by Volunteers include English resource centers, radio shows, movie nights, sports clubs, and women's clubs. Volunteers have created a website where they are able to exchange teaching ideas, lesson plans and methods.
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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 will take pride in supporting one another and demonstrating the richness of American culture.  
  
China is a place full of vitality and opportunity. U.S.-China Friendship Volunteers have a unique opportunity to be part of this vitality and transformation.
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===What Might a Volunteer Face?===
  
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====Possible Issues for Female Volunteers====
  
==Peace Corps History==
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In Bangladesh, the virtues of the ideal woman include patience, obedience, endurance, and self-sacrifice. Although women are visible in public, particularly in Dhaka, the majority have limited opportunities outside the home and even face discrimination within their own families. What follows is an outline of the typical rural woman’s life.
  
''Main article: [[History of the Peace Corps in China]]''
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When a girl is born her birth is rarely celebrated and no call for prayer is given, as it would be for a boy. From early childhood, girls are made aware that, unlike their brothers, they are liabilities rather than assets to the family. In a country of great scarcity, what little is available—from food to clothing to education to health care—is offered first to males. Over 50 percent of girls ages six to seven months have stunted growth, and the death rate for girls ages one to four is 15 per 1,000, compared with 12 per 1,000 for boys of the same age.
  
In March 1988, the Chinese foreign minister and then-Secretary of State George Shultz agreed in principle to place Peace Corps Volunteers in China. A year later, an exchange of letters signed by the U.S. ambassador and the secretary general of the China Education Association for International Exchange (CEAIE) and the Peace Corps opened the way to establish a Peace Corps post in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province.
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Girls are trained to take on the only socially acceptable role for a woman, that of wife and mother. From a young age, a girl helps her mother with household chores and looks after younger children. Only 50 percent of girls enroll in primary school, compared with 70 percent of boys. In secondary schools, girls’ attendance is less than half that of boys.  
  
In June 1989, the first group of trainees for Peace Corps/ China began training in the United States. However, following the Tiananmen Square incident, the training was canceled; the China program was temporarily suspended and the trainees were offered assignments in other countries.
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Beginning at about age 10, segregation of the genders becomes stricter. Some families observe purdah, a Muslim and Hindu practice in which a girl’s movements outside the home are restricted to protect her chastity and reputation. How strictly a young woman observes purdah depends on her economic status, as poorer women in villages need freedom of movement to fetch water, tend animals, and so on.  
  
The first group of 18 Peace Corps Volunteers to be sent to China arrived for their training in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, in June 1993. Following training in teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL), Chinese language, and cross-cultural issues, the 18 trainees swore-in as Volunteers in August 1993. They were posted to Sichuan Province, which at that time also included what later became the separate political entity known as the municipality of Chongqing. This group was viewed by the Chinese as a two-year experiment to determine whether Peace Corps was appropriate for China. Those Volunteers completed their service and returned to the United States on schedule in the summer of 1995. The Peace Corps country agreement was not signed until June 29, 1998.  
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Rural women generally perform tasks at home—cooking, cleaning, and child care—while men negotiate with the outside world as they work in the fields or go to the market. Thus Bangladesh differs from other predominantly Muslim countries where women can freely work in the fields and go to the market. In addition, rural Bangladeshi women generally do not share in tasks that involve earning an income.  
  
 +
The legal age of marriage is 18; however, 20 percent of women have their first child before age 15, 66 percent before age18, and 80 percent before age 20. Dowries are illegal in Bangladesh but are still very common, as is wife beating. After marriage, a wife’s position is inferior to that of other women in her husband’s household. The twin threats of polygamy and divorce, both sanctioned by Muslim law, help husbands to ensure their wives’ obedience. If a husband instigates divorce, the wife has no choice but to accept the decision, as Muslim law allows a man to divorce his wife on any grounds simply by saying “I divorce you” three times. (Women have the right to initiate divorce but are discouraged from doing so by societal pressure.) An unattached woman, whether single, widowed, or divorced, has little or no social standing, so a wife banished from her husband’s home usually returns to her parents, leaving her children behind.
  
==Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyle==
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As long as they lack an independent means of livelihood and a broader social movement to back them up, women are likely to respond to male domination with only small acts of self-assertion. In urban areas women are more openly assertive, politically conscious, and organized, partly because of the opportunities for wage employment, albeit in low-paying jobs such as garment factory labor and street cleaning. Middle-class urban women have greater opportunities for education and careers, but they are usually employed in traditionally female occupations such as teaching and nursing. There is, however, a small but growing group of extremely well-educated and articulate professional women who are acting as a catalyst for change by helping women get educated, gain employment, and become leaders in their communities. Many organizations work specifically with women’s groups, raising awareness and providing opportunities for women to work together in starting and running their own businesses.
  
''Main article: [[Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in China]]''
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====Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers====
  
Volunteer sites in China are located from within Chengdu, where the Peace Corps office is located, to up to 1,200 kilometers (744 miles) away in Sichuan, Chongqing, Guizhou, and Gansu provinces. Many Volunteers live alone or with a spouse on the campus of the college/university to which they are assigned, and the school provides apartment housing. All sites have hot water heaters for showering. However, in the winter, there is an occasional water shortage when water may not be available for hours at a time. Electricity and internet access are fairly constant, but power failures do occur, especially in winter. Apartments in Gansu have heating to deal with the cold winters, but apartments in other provinces typically do not. Volunteers live in local faculty housing or in apartments. These residences have a living room, a bedroom, a bathroom, a kitchen, and sometimes a study.
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Although Islam was declared the state religion in 1988, freedom of religion is a legal right in Bangladesh. As the dominant religion, Islam is also the major social and cultural force in Bangladeshi society. The Koran forbids drinking alcohol, eating pork, gambling, and money lending for profit. It also lays down the rules for marriage and divorce and the penalties for crimes. Islam seems to give many Bangladeshis enormous patience in the face of extreme poverty and frequent naturaldisasters. An expression one often hears is “Inshallah,” which means “As Allah wills it, so it will be.” Most Bangladeshis view religious identity as a basic fact about a person and are likely to ask about your religion almost as frequently as they ask how many brothers and sisters you have. Many assume that all Americans are Christians, and Volunteers who are not Christian may experience some challenges. Jews in particular may encounter negative attitudes.  
  
Follow this link to find a wiki work in progress with travel advice for PCVs in China. [http://pctravelchina.wikispaces.com/]
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Although Muslims and Hindus in Bangladesh interact freely on a professional level, there are some animosities between Hindu and Muslim communities. People who are atheists or seem ambiguous about their religious identity may be regarded as foolish or morally reprehensible, as rejecting the religion one is born into is considered a serious matter. Some Volunteers without a specific religion have found calling themselves “humanist” to be a good compromise.  
  
[[Volunteers Supporting Volunteers]] is a peer to peer support group for volunteers in China.
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[[Category:Bangladesh]]
 
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For more information on volunteer work and working conditions, go to [[Professional Peer Support]].
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==Training==
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''Main article: [[Training in China]]''
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Your first weeks in-country will be an intense period of transition. It may be your first time outside of the United States. Regardless of your background and experience, you will be making a leap of faith and putting yourself in the hands of several individuals whose job is to prepare you for Peace Corps service. During pre-service training, all trainees live with host families. Many individuals find this experience to be the best part of their training. Host families provide invaluable lessons in cross-cultural and language areas that Peace Corps staff cannot begin to teach. Some Volunteers remain close to their host families throughout their service and spend some Chinese holidays and vacations with them.
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Pre-service training is designed to provide you with the tools necessary to operate independently and effectively as a Peace Corps Volunteer in China. You will participate in a structured learning situation that is community based. You will be required to attend all training sessions, learn and demonstrate proficiency in the language, and observe cultural mores. Your progress will be assessed by others, but you will also be asked to take responsibility for your own learning and to gradually decrease your reliance on the Peace Corps training and office staff. You will be encouraged to assess your own progress as well as your commitment to serving in Peace Corps/China for the next two years.
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Pre-service training in China lasts for two months and typically includes about four hours a day of intensive Mandarin language classes Monday-Saturday as well as TEFL and cultural classes. Trainees live with host families close to one of three universities in Chengdu, Sichuan: Sichuan University (四川大学), Sichuan Normal University (四川师范大学), and Chengdu University (成都大学). Trainees are expected to spend most evenings and weekends with their host families. Trainees with previous experience with the Chinese language are placed in more advanced language classes together, but the vast majority of trainees have no previous experience with the language before coming to China. Similarly, trainees with previous teaching experience are often grouped together for more advanced TEFL sessions.
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==Health Care and Safety==
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''Main article: [[Health care and safety in China]]''
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The Peace Corps’ highest priority is maintaining the good health and safety of every Volunteer. Peace Corps medical programs emphasize the preventive, rather than the curative, approach to disease. Peace Corps/China maintains a clinic with full-time medical staff who take care of Volunteers' primary healthcare needs. Additional medical services, such as testing and basic treatment, are also available in China at local hospitals. If you become seriously ill, you will be transported either to a medical facility in the region or to the United States.
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==Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues==
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''Main article: [[Diversity and cross-cultural issues in China]]''
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In China, as in other Peace Corps host countries, Volunteers’ behavior, lifestyles, background, and beliefs will be judged in a cultural context very different from our own. Certain personal perspectives or characteristics considered familiar and commonly accepted in the United States may be quite uncommon, unacceptable, or even repressed in China. You may be advised to avoid discussion of topics with your students.
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Outside of China’s capital, residents of rural communities have had relatively little direct exposure to other cultures, races, religions, and lifestyles. What is advertised as “typical” cultural behavior or norms may also be a narrow and selective interpretation, such as the perception in some countries that all Americans are rich and have blond hair and blue eyes. The people of China 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 differences that you present. Peace Corps China has launched a Peer to Peer network -- [[Volunteers Supporting Volunteers]] -- to support volunteers currently serving in China and serve as a resource for incoming invitees. One of the goals of VSV is to support volunteers who may have difficulty, or just a different experience, because of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, religious background, and disability or limited access.
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* Possible Issues for Female Volunteers
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* Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color
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* Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers
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* Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers
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* Possible Religious Issues
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* Possible Issues for Volunteers with Disabilities
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==Frequently Asked Questions==
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{{Volunteersurvey2008
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|H1r=  8
+
|H1s=  78.3
+
|H2r=  13
+
|H2s=  87.5
+
|H3r=  5
+
|H3s=  90
+
|H4r=  47
+
|H4s=  103
+
|H5r=  52
+
|H5s=  46.5
+
|H6r=  11
+
|H6s=  97
+
}}
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''Main article: [[FAQs about Peace Corps in China]]''
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* How much luggage will I be allowed to bring to China?
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* What is the electric current in China?
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* How much money should I bring?
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* When can I take vacation and have people visit me?
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* Will my belongings be covered by insurance?
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* What should I bring as gifts for China friends and my host family?
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* Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be?
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* Should I bring a cellular phone with me?
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==Packing List==
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''Main article: [[Packing list for China]]''
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This list has been compiled by Volunteers serving in China and is 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! You obviously cannot bring everything we mention, so consider those items that make the most sense to you personally and professionally. You can always have things sent to you later. 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 China.
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[[Volunteers Supporting Volunteers]], a confidential peer to peer support network for volunteers in China, has also compiled answers to common questions about serving in China, what to expect, and what to bring.
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==Peace Corps News==
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Current events relating to Peace Corps are also available by [[News | country of service]] or [[News by state|your home state]]
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''The following is automatic RSS feed of Peace Corps news for this country.''<br><rss title=on desc=off>http://news.google.com/news?hl=en&ned=us&scoring=n&q=%22peace+corps%22+%22china%22&output=rss|charset=UTF-8|short|date=M d</rss>
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<br>'''[http://peacecorpsjournals.com PEACE CORPS JOURNALS]'''<br>''( As of {{CURRENTDAYNAME}} {{CURRENTMONTHNAME}} {{CURRENTDAY}}, {{CURRENTYEAR}} )''<rss title=off desc=off>http://peacecorpsjournals.com/rss/ch/blog/50.xml|charset=UTF-8|short|max=10</rss>
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==Country Fund==
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Contributions to the [https://www.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=resources.donors.contribute.projDetail&projdesc=366-CFD China Country Fund] will support Volunteer and community projects that will take place in China. These projects include water and sanitation, agricultural development, and youth programs.
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==See also==
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* [[Volunteers who served in China]]
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* [[List of resources for China]]
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* [[Pre-Departure Checklist]]
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* [[Inspector General Reports]]
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* [[2008 Sichuan Earthquake]]
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==External links==
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* [http://www.peacecorpschina.org/ Peace Corps China - Online Resource Site]
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* [http://www.peacecorpsjournals.com/ch.html Peace Corps Journals - China]
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* [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2008_Sichuan_earthquake Sichuan Earthquake at Wikipedia]
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* [http://www.travelchinaguide.com/ Travel China Guide]
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* [http://www.chinatour360.com/ China Tour 360]
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[[Category:China]] [[Category:Asia]]
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[[Category:Country]]
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Revision as of 11:06, 30 March 2008

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 Bangladesh, 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 Bangladesh.

Outside of Bangladesh’s capital, residents of rural communities have had relatively little direct exposure to other cultures, races, religions, and lifestyles. 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. The people of Bangladesh 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.

To ease the transition and adapt to life in Bangladesh, 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 be on call to provide support, but the challenge ultimately will be your own.

Overview of Diversity in Bangladesh

The Peace Corps staff in Bangladesh 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 will take pride in supporting one another and demonstrating the richness of American culture.

What Might a Volunteer Face?

Possible Issues for Female Volunteers

In Bangladesh, the virtues of the ideal woman include patience, obedience, endurance, and self-sacrifice. Although women are visible in public, particularly in Dhaka, the majority have limited opportunities outside the home and even face discrimination within their own families. What follows is an outline of the typical rural woman’s life.

When a girl is born her birth is rarely celebrated and no call for prayer is given, as it would be for a boy. From early childhood, girls are made aware that, unlike their brothers, they are liabilities rather than assets to the family. In a country of great scarcity, what little is available—from food to clothing to education to health care—is offered first to males. Over 50 percent of girls ages six to seven months have stunted growth, and the death rate for girls ages one to four is 15 per 1,000, compared with 12 per 1,000 for boys of the same age.

Girls are trained to take on the only socially acceptable role for a woman, that of wife and mother. From a young age, a girl helps her mother with household chores and looks after younger children. Only 50 percent of girls enroll in primary school, compared with 70 percent of boys. In secondary schools, girls’ attendance is less than half that of boys.

Beginning at about age 10, segregation of the genders becomes stricter. Some families observe purdah, a Muslim and Hindu practice in which a girl’s movements outside the home are restricted to protect her chastity and reputation. How strictly a young woman observes purdah depends on her economic status, as poorer women in villages need freedom of movement to fetch water, tend animals, and so on.

Rural women generally perform tasks at home—cooking, cleaning, and child care—while men negotiate with the outside world as they work in the fields or go to the market. Thus Bangladesh differs from other predominantly Muslim countries where women can freely work in the fields and go to the market. In addition, rural Bangladeshi women generally do not share in tasks that involve earning an income.

The legal age of marriage is 18; however, 20 percent of women have their first child before age 15, 66 percent before age18, and 80 percent before age 20. Dowries are illegal in Bangladesh but are still very common, as is wife beating. After marriage, a wife’s position is inferior to that of other women in her husband’s household. The twin threats of polygamy and divorce, both sanctioned by Muslim law, help husbands to ensure their wives’ obedience. If a husband instigates divorce, the wife has no choice but to accept the decision, as Muslim law allows a man to divorce his wife on any grounds simply by saying “I divorce you” three times. (Women have the right to initiate divorce but are discouraged from doing so by societal pressure.) An unattached woman, whether single, widowed, or divorced, has little or no social standing, so a wife banished from her husband’s home usually returns to her parents, leaving her children behind.

As long as they lack an independent means of livelihood and a broader social movement to back them up, women are likely to respond to male domination with only small acts of self-assertion. In urban areas women are more openly assertive, politically conscious, and organized, partly because of the opportunities for wage employment, albeit in low-paying jobs such as garment factory labor and street cleaning. Middle-class urban women have greater opportunities for education and careers, but they are usually employed in traditionally female occupations such as teaching and nursing. There is, however, a small but growing group of extremely well-educated and articulate professional women who are acting as a catalyst for change by helping women get educated, gain employment, and become leaders in their communities. Many organizations work specifically with women’s groups, raising awareness and providing opportunities for women to work together in starting and running their own businesses.

Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers

Although Islam was declared the state religion in 1988, freedom of religion is a legal right in Bangladesh. As the dominant religion, Islam is also the major social and cultural force in Bangladeshi society. The Koran forbids drinking alcohol, eating pork, gambling, and money lending for profit. It also lays down the rules for marriage and divorce and the penalties for crimes. Islam seems to give many Bangladeshis enormous patience in the face of extreme poverty and frequent naturaldisasters. An expression one often hears is “Inshallah,” which means “As Allah wills it, so it will be.” Most Bangladeshis view religious identity as a basic fact about a person and are likely to ask about your religion almost as frequently as they ask how many brothers and sisters you have. Many assume that all Americans are Christians, and Volunteers who are not Christian may experience some challenges. Jews in particular may encounter negative attitudes.

Although Muslims and Hindus in Bangladesh interact freely on a professional level, there are some animosities between Hindu and Muslim communities. People who are atheists or seem ambiguous about their religious identity may be regarded as foolish or morally reprehensible, as rejecting the religion one is born into is considered a serious matter. Some Volunteers without a specific religion have found calling themselves “humanist” to be a good compromise.