Difference between pages "Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Nicaragua" and "Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Tonga"

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In fulfilling the Peace Corps’ mandate to share the face of America with our host countries, we are 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.  
 
In fulfilling the Peace Corps’ mandate to share the face of America with our host countries, we are 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 Nicaragua, 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 Nicaragua.  
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Our diversity helps us accomplish that goal. In other ways, however, it poses challenges. In Tonga, 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 considered commonly accepted in the United States may be quite uncommon, unacceptable, or even repressed in Tonga.  
  
Outside of Nicaragua’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. While the people of Nicaragua are justly known for their generous hospitality to foreigners, 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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What people view as typical American behavior or norms may be a misperception, such as the belief that all Americans are rich and have blond hair and blue eyes. The people of Tonga 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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To ease the transition and adapt to life in Tonga, 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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===Overview of Diversity in Tonga ===
  
To ease the transition and adapt to life in Nicaragua, 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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The Peace Corps staff in Tonga recognizes 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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===Overview of Diversity in Nicaragua ===
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The Peace Corps staff in Nicaragua 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. Peace Corps/Nicaragua encourages Volunteers to discuss issues of diversity among themselves and with staff so that we can understand and support one another better. Staff members are committed to supporting all Volunteers and undergo diversity training to improve their skills in this important endeavor.  
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===What Might a Volunteer Face? ===
 
===What Might a Volunteer Face? ===
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====Possible Issues for Female Volunteers ====
 
====Possible Issues for Female Volunteers ====
  
Nicaragua has a culture where machismo is prevalent, and women’s traditional roles may be undervalued. While there have been quite a few female leaders in Nicaragua over the years, including former President Violeta Chamorro, most women still find their primary role in society to be in the home. There is a high dropout rate among girls in secondary school, a very high incidence of teenage pregnancy, and a high rate of irresponsible paternity, all of which reinforce the highly defined gender roles. Peace Corps/Nicaragua has a very active gender and development committee that works with Volunteers and Nicaraguans alike to raise consciousness and support culturally appropriate activities that address issues of gender inequality among girls, boys, women and men in the field.  
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Tonga has a traditional, patriarchal culture. Although women have achieved high rank in government ministries, people at the community level have not had much experience with women who take on professional roles or who live independently of their families. Most women in Tonga do very little on their own and generally travel with at least one other person. This does not mean that female Volunteers cannot live or do things on their own, but they need to be aware that the community in which they live may view their behavior as strange at first.  
  
Female Volunteers may find that being a single woman living alone is considered odd. They may receive more inappropriate and unwanted attention from men than they are accustomed to receiving. They may have to work harder than male Volunteers to gain the respect of Nicaraguan colleagues in the workplace or they may experience resentment from Nicaraguan women for their male-like position of authority in the community. Female Volunteers should keep a low social profile and practice discretion in public to avoid developing an undesirable reputation in their community (e.g., wear conservative clothing, refrain from smoking in public, drinking in bars, or even dancing with men).  
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Many Tongans have large, robust figures, which are considered desirable in many cases, although perceptions are changing.  Slender women may be told they are too skinny, while larger women may be told that they are fat in what is intended as a compliment.  
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Female Volunteers in Tonga often receive an inordinate amount of attention from Tongan men. Flirting, ogling, catcalls, and a certain amount of protective behavior by host family and community members are common. Females are often asked about their marital status and whether they would like to marry someone locally. Most of the attention is good-natured and can be fended off with humorous replies.
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Tongans traditionally do not engage in friendships with members of the opposite sex, so it is culturally inappropriate for a female Volunteer to entertain a man (or men) alone in her home, whether the man is a Tongan or another Volunteer.  Her community is apt to see such a situation as a romantic or sexual relationship. Female Volunteers in Tonga have occasionally had people peep in their windows or appear in their homes without warning.  
  
 
====Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color ====
 
====Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color ====
  
In Nicaragua, skin color can be the most common way people identify one another. Terms such as moreno (colored person), negro (black), chele (white), and Chino (Asian) are considered by many to be socially acceptable. Therefore, Volunteers of color face constant verbal and nonverbal reminders that their skin color is different from that of the majority. Nicaragua has a large Afro-Caribbean population along its east coast, so African-American Volunteers are often confused with people from those communities or believed to be from Cuba. Negative stereotypes sometimes exist as well.  
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Some African-American and Asian-American Volunteers have been annoyed or frustrated when Tongans tell them that they “just look like we do.” An Asian American may be called mata’i Siapani (“Japanese eyes”) or mata’i Siaina (“Chinese eyes”). Increasing immigration of Chinese to Tonga has created some social tension. However, when Volunteers become known to their communities, being of color has not negatively affected their ability to serve effectively. African-American Volunteers are sometimes referred to by Tongans as “Nika”. The word "nika" is a direct translation of the word "nigger", a term that was brought to Tonga by American soldiers during the 1950s. Most Tongans will also assume that Black volunteers are from Fiji and will have a hard time believing that Blacks are American. This can be very frustrating but Black volunteers must be prepared to explain their nationality on a regular basis.  
  
After an initial settling-in period at their sites, however, most African-American Volunteers have very positive experiences living and working throughout Nicaragua. Hispanic Volunteers also face challenges. At first they are often thought to be Nicaraguans or Central Americans. Even when people realize they are neither, they commonly have difficulty believing Hispanics are “real” Americans. It may also be hard for community members to accept that a Hispanic Volunteer is not a native Spanish speaker. However, most Hispanic Volunteers find they are welcome and readily accepted in Nicaragua.  
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Some Asian Americans may hear "Siaina" mixed with some mock Chinese words called out to them from across the street. They might also hear "Siapani" or mock Japanese whispered to a friend standing two feet away. To Americans, this is rude, obnoxious, and is a sign of ignorance. The name calling can be ignored, but the deeper issue is a sign of ignorance.  There is a problem with racial prejudice in Tonga against the Chinese immigrants. This problem has been exacerbated in recent years by certain Tongan private business interests, culminating in the arson and looting of Chinese businesses and home, during the Nuku'alofa riot on November 16, 2006. Most Tongans cannot distinguish between the Chinese immigrants and Asians from other countries, so all Asians, including Asian-Americans, tend to be grouped with the Chinese immigrants.  This makes them potential targets for racially motivated crimes. Bars that might be acceptable for other Volunteers might be more unsafe for you. Above all, use common sense.  
  
Asian-American Volunteers may be associated with characters in the martial arts movies that play repeatedly in urban areas of Nicaragua. Females may be viewed according to the mystique with which Asian women are often portrayed on television or in movies. Asian-American Volunteers may encounter stereotypes similar to those in the United States, such as the view that all Asians are extremely intelligent, good business people, and rich. Volunteers who are not of Chinese descent may be frustrated when Nicaraguans do not consider them Americans or associate them with a different ethnic background. For example, Korean-American Volunteers may be labeled as Chinese. For the most part, however, Nicaraguans are curious about and interested in the heritage of Asian Americans and welcome them into their homes and communities.  
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To be an effective Asian-American Volunteer, it is necessary to integrate yourself into the community. Let people know what a Peace Corps Volunteer is, that you come from America, and what your Volunteer work is. Adopting the native attire will also immediately identify you as not being a Chinese immigrant (Chinese immigrants typically do not wear tupenus, ta'ovalas or kiekies).
  
 
====Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers ====
 
====Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers ====
  
Respect comes with age in Nicaragua. Younger Volunteers may have to work harder than their older colleagues to be accepted as professionals. Older Volunteers may feel isolated among younger Volunteers, who may not be able to provide the desired personal support. In other instances, younger Volunteers may look to older Volunteers for advice. Some senior Volunteers find this a very enjoyable part of their Volunteer experience, while others choose not to fill this role.  
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Respect and courtesy are extended to both male and female seniors in Tonga, and senior Volunteers are likely to be given places of high honor. However, senior Volunteers may find that they are one of the few Volunteers, if not the only Volunteer, of their age in their training group.  
 
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During training, senior Volunteers may experience frustration in having most of their time and activities scheduled for them.
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It may be difficult to adjust to living with a host family where you have to adapt to the family’s way of doing things. Also, adjustment to the learning environment, which includes intensive hands-on training, doing research, interviews and homework, may prove unexpectedly challenging. Another issue for some seniors in training is the feeling of being left out of the social activities, or not having the same interests as trainees in their 20s. At the same time, the life experiences that seniors bring with them to the training process can enrich others and provide a secure base to deal with the challenges that the cultural adaptation process brings.  
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====Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers ====
 
====Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers ====
  
To fit into the conservative Nicaraguan culture, most Volunteers find that there are things about themselves that are better to not share with their neighbors. Most gay, lesbian, and bisexual Volunteers find that it is more comfortable and convenient for them to be discreet about their sexual orientation with the people in their community because Nicaraguans generally view gay or lesbian relationships as morally wrong. Given the prejudices in the country toward gays, lesbians, and bisexuals, being “out” at one’s site could seriously jeopardize one’s professional image and effectiveness. Engaging in homosexual sex is prohibited by law in Nicaragua, but this law is not generally enforced.  
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Tongan sexual mores are fairly strict. In Tonga, there is a concept called Fakaleiti, whereby boys are raised as girls and take on the appearance and social responsibilities of women. You will learn more about this cultural phenomenon during pre-service training.  Generally, this issue is not associated with homosexuality. [This section is grossly misinformed and in need of a serious edit by a knowledgeable person. Beneath the layer of public appearance there is a whole other Tongan sexual reality and volunteers should be made aware of this.]
  
 
====Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers ====
 
====Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers ====
  
Nicaragua is a predominantly Roman Catholic country, but an influx of Protestants, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and other Christian denominations is changing the religious makeup of the country. Non-Christian groups are practically nonexistent, however, which can be a challenge for practicing Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and other groups. Most Nicaraguans are curious about and tolerant of other religions, but there is a lack of education about the history, beliefs, and practices of other faiths.  
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The overwhelming majority of Tongans are Christian, and attending church and observing holy days are important activities in every community. On Sundays, for example, recreation is forbidden by law. Regardless of their own faith, many Volunteers choose to attend church to show respect for local customs and to develop relationships in their community. The Peace Corps encourages Volunteers of every religious persuasion to recognize the church as an important community institution and to participate accordingly. Volunteers who are worried about the religious/spiritual nature of this participation can consult with their peers or Volunteers from previous groups on how to tactfully work in a church-dominant society while maintaining one’s own religious/spiritual beliefs.  
  
 
====Possible Issues for Volunteers With Disabilities ====
 
====Possible Issues for Volunteers With Disabilities ====
  
As a disabled Volunteer in Nicaragua, you may find that you face a special set of challenges. In Nicaragua, as in other parts of the world, some people hold prejudicial attitudes about individuals with disabilities and may discriminate against them. In addition, there is little of the infrastructure to accommodate individuals with disabilities that has been developed in the United States.  
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Tongans generally treat people with disabilities with respect. The main challenge will be that the accommodations you are accustomed to having in the United States may not be available locally. Nevertheless, the Peace Corps/Tonga staff will work with you to make reasonable accommodations in training, housing, and job sites to enable you to serve safely and effectively.  
 
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As part of the medical screening process, the Peace Corps Office of Medical Services determined that you were physically and emotionally capable, with or without reasonable accommodations, to perform a full tour of Volunteer service in Nicaragua without unreasonable risk of harm to yourself or interruption of your service. The Peace Corps/Nicaragua staff will work with disabled Volunteers to make reasonable accommodations for them in training, housing, job sites, or other areas to enable them to serve safely and effectively.  
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====Possible Issues for Married Volunteers ====
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Currently Peace Corps/Nicaragua has a number of married couples serving successfuly in-country. Being a married couple in the Peace Corps has its advantages and challenges.  It helps to have someone by your side to share your experience with, but there are also cultural expectations that can cause stress in a marriage. The most important thing to remember is that you are in a foreign country with new rules.  As long as you remain open-minded you will have a successful service. The possible issues listed below will also depend on the size of the community you will be living in.
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In Nicaragua, a married man may be encouraged to be the more dominant member in the relationship. He may also be encouraged by the local culture to make decisions independent of his spouse’s views and to have his wife serve him. He may be ridiculed if he performs domestic tasks. On the other hand, a married woman may find herself in a less independent role than that to which she has been accustomed. She may also experience a more limited social life in the community than single Volunteers (since it may be assumed that she will be busy taking care of her husband).  Additionally, she may be expected by the local culture to perform “traditional” domestic chores such as cooking or cleaning. Competition between a couple may become a difficulty, especially if one spouse learns faster than the other (e.g., language skills, job skills). There also may be differences in job satisfaction and/or different needs between spouses.
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Younger Volunteers may look to couples for advice and support. Married couples also are likely to be treated with more respect because the community sees marriage as a responsibility. They may be asked when they will have children.
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During pre-service training, couples will be placed in separate host families to aid in their individual language, cultural and technical learning process. In most instances, you will have opportunities for some kind of communication or periodic visits throughout this timeframe. Please contact the country desk unit or your placement officer for more information.
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[[Category:Nicaragua]]
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[[Category:Tonga]]

Revision as of 17:47, 2 February 2010

Diversity and cross-cultural issues in [[{{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Tonga| |5}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Tonga| |6}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Tonga| |7}}]]
In fulfilling the Peace Corps’ mandate to share the face of America with their host countries, 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.
  • [[Packing list for {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Tonga| |5}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Tonga| |6}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Tonga| |7}}]]
  • [[Training in {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Tonga| |5}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Tonga| |6}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Tonga| |7}}]]
  • [[Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Tonga| |5}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Tonga| |6}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Tonga| |7}}]]
  • [[Health care and safety in {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Tonga| |5}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Tonga| |6}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Tonga| |7}}]]
  • [[Diversity and cross-cultural issues in {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Tonga| |5}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Tonga| |6}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Tonga| |7}}]]
  • [[FAQs about Peace Corps in {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Tonga| |5}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Tonga| |6}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Tonga| |7}}]]
  • [[History of the Peace Corps in {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Tonga| |5}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Tonga| |6}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Tonga| |7}}]]
See also:
[[Category:{{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Tonga| |5}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Tonga| |6}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Tonga| |7}}]]

In fulfilling the Peace Corps’ mandate to share the face of America with our host countries, we are 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 Tonga, 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 considered commonly accepted in the United States may be quite uncommon, unacceptable, or even repressed in Tonga.

What people view as typical American behavior or norms may be a misperception, such as the belief that all Americans are rich and have blond hair and blue eyes. The people of Tonga 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 Tonga, 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.

Overview of Diversity in Tonga

The Peace Corps staff in Tonga recognizes 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.

What Might a Volunteer Face?

Possible Issues for Female Volunteers

Tonga has a traditional, patriarchal culture. Although women have achieved high rank in government ministries, people at the community level have not had much experience with women who take on professional roles or who live independently of their families. Most women in Tonga do very little on their own and generally travel with at least one other person. This does not mean that female Volunteers cannot live or do things on their own, but they need to be aware that the community in which they live may view their behavior as strange at first.

Many Tongans have large, robust figures, which are considered desirable in many cases, although perceptions are changing. Slender women may be told they are too skinny, while larger women may be told that they are fat in what is intended as a compliment.

Female Volunteers in Tonga often receive an inordinate amount of attention from Tongan men. Flirting, ogling, catcalls, and a certain amount of protective behavior by host family and community members are common. Females are often asked about their marital status and whether they would like to marry someone locally. Most of the attention is good-natured and can be fended off with humorous replies.

Tongans traditionally do not engage in friendships with members of the opposite sex, so it is culturally inappropriate for a female Volunteer to entertain a man (or men) alone in her home, whether the man is a Tongan or another Volunteer. Her community is apt to see such a situation as a romantic or sexual relationship. Female Volunteers in Tonga have occasionally had people peep in their windows or appear in their homes without warning.

Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color

Some African-American and Asian-American Volunteers have been annoyed or frustrated when Tongans tell them that they “just look like we do.” An Asian American may be called mata’i Siapani (“Japanese eyes”) or mata’i Siaina (“Chinese eyes”). Increasing immigration of Chinese to Tonga has created some social tension. However, when Volunteers become known to their communities, being of color has not negatively affected their ability to serve effectively. African-American Volunteers are sometimes referred to by Tongans as “Nika”. The word "nika" is a direct translation of the word "nigger", a term that was brought to Tonga by American soldiers during the 1950s. Most Tongans will also assume that Black volunteers are from Fiji and will have a hard time believing that Blacks are American. This can be very frustrating but Black volunteers must be prepared to explain their nationality on a regular basis.

Some Asian Americans may hear "Siaina" mixed with some mock Chinese words called out to them from across the street. They might also hear "Siapani" or mock Japanese whispered to a friend standing two feet away. To Americans, this is rude, obnoxious, and is a sign of ignorance. The name calling can be ignored, but the deeper issue is a sign of ignorance. There is a problem with racial prejudice in Tonga against the Chinese immigrants. This problem has been exacerbated in recent years by certain Tongan private business interests, culminating in the arson and looting of Chinese businesses and home, during the Nuku'alofa riot on November 16, 2006. Most Tongans cannot distinguish between the Chinese immigrants and Asians from other countries, so all Asians, including Asian-Americans, tend to be grouped with the Chinese immigrants. This makes them potential targets for racially motivated crimes. Bars that might be acceptable for other Volunteers might be more unsafe for you. Above all, use common sense.

To be an effective Asian-American Volunteer, it is necessary to integrate yourself into the community. Let people know what a Peace Corps Volunteer is, that you come from America, and what your Volunteer work is. Adopting the native attire will also immediately identify you as not being a Chinese immigrant (Chinese immigrants typically do not wear tupenus, ta'ovalas or kiekies).

Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers

Respect and courtesy are extended to both male and female seniors in Tonga, and senior Volunteers are likely to be given places of high honor. However, senior Volunteers may find that they are one of the few Volunteers, if not the only Volunteer, of their age in their training group.

Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers

Tongan sexual mores are fairly strict. In Tonga, there is a concept called Fakaleiti, whereby boys are raised as girls and take on the appearance and social responsibilities of women. You will learn more about this cultural phenomenon during pre-service training. Generally, this issue is not associated with homosexuality. [This section is grossly misinformed and in need of a serious edit by a knowledgeable person. Beneath the layer of public appearance there is a whole other Tongan sexual reality and volunteers should be made aware of this.]

Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers

The overwhelming majority of Tongans are Christian, and attending church and observing holy days are important activities in every community. On Sundays, for example, recreation is forbidden by law. Regardless of their own faith, many Volunteers choose to attend church to show respect for local customs and to develop relationships in their community. The Peace Corps encourages Volunteers of every religious persuasion to recognize the church as an important community institution and to participate accordingly. Volunteers who are worried about the religious/spiritual nature of this participation can consult with their peers or Volunteers from previous groups on how to tactfully work in a church-dominant society while maintaining one’s own religious/spiritual beliefs.

Possible Issues for Volunteers With Disabilities

Tongans generally treat people with disabilities with respect. The main challenge will be that the accommodations you are accustomed to having in the United States may not be available locally. Nevertheless, the Peace Corps/Tonga staff will work with you to make reasonable accommodations in training, housing, and job sites to enable you to serve safely and effectively.