Difference between pages "Training in El Salvador" and "Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Madagascar"

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Training is an essential part of your Peace Corps service. Our goal is to give you enough skills and information to allow you to live and work effectively in El Salvador. In doing that, we plan to build upon the experiences and expertise you bring with you to the Peace Corps. We anticipate that you will approach your training with an open mind, a desire to learn, and a willingness to become involved. Peace Corps trainees officially become Peace Corps Volunteers after successful completion of training.
 
  
The 10-week training provides you the opportunity to learn new skills and practice them as they apply to El Salvador.  You will receive training and orientation in components of language, cross-cultural communication, area studies, development issues, health and personal safety, and technical skills pertinent to your assignment. The skills you learn will serve as a foundation upon which you will build your experience and work together as a group. And you will have the chance to experience local culture and customs on your own during your stay with a host family and on various site visits.
 
  
During the first few days in-country, you will participate in an arrival orientation at the training center in San Vicente.  After this initial period, you will move in with your host family in a community in or around San Vicente. You will live with one host family for the duration of your pre-service training.
+
===Communications===
  
The host family experience will help you bring some of the topics covered in training to life, and it will give you a chance to practice your new language skills and directly observe and participate in Salvadoran culture. You will be expected to take part in the meals and daily activities of your host family. If you invest yourself in this experience, it will prove to be a rich and positive one. You will be assisted and guided in your cultural adaptation and skills acquisition by members of the training staff. All staff members will work with you—individually as well as in groups—to help you adapt to the new culture and prepare yourself for your eventual assignment.
+
===Mail===
  
===Technical Training ===
+
Few countries in the world offer the level of mail service considered normal in the United States. If you expect U.S.  standards of mail service, you will be in for some frustration.  Mail takes a minimum of two to three weeks to arrive in Madagascar. Some mail may simply not arrive (fortunately this is not a frequent occurrence, but it does happen). Advise your family and friends to number their letters and to include “Airmail” and “Par Avion” on their envelopes. Packages take six to nine weeks by airmail and about six months by surface mail. If someone is sending you a package, it is a good idea to keep it small and to use a padded envelope; that way it will be treated as a letter.
  
Technical training prepares you to work in El Salvador by building on the skills you already have and by helping you to develop new skills in a manner appropriate to the needs of the country. The Peace Corps staff, El Salvador experts, and current Volunteers will conduct the training program. Training places great emphasis on learning how to transfer the skills you have to the community in which you will serve as a Volunteer.  
+
Despite these delays, we encourage you to write to your family regularly and to number your letters. Family and friends typically become worried when they do not hear from you, so it is a good idea to advise them that mail service is sporadic and that they should not worry if they do not receive your letters regularly.xxxxxxxxx
  
Technical training will include sessions on general environmental, economic and political situations in El Salvador and strategies for working within such a framework. You will review your technical sector’s goals and will meet with the Salvadoran agencies and organizations that invited the Peace Corps to assist them.  
+
Volunteers in Madagascar may receive packages but are responsible for all duty fees, which may be imposed on food and cosmetics and are based on the items’ value. Also be aware that packages containing valuable items may occasionally get lost or held up.
  
You will be supported and evaluated by the training staff throughout the training to build the confidence and skills you will need to undertake your project activities and be a productive member of your community.
+
Your address during training will be:
  
===Language Training ===
+
"Your Name", PCT Peace Corps
  
As a Peace Corps Volunteer, you will find that language skills are the key to personal and professional satisfaction during your service. These skills are critical to your job performance and will help you integrate into your host community and ease your personal adaptation to the new surroundings. Therefore, language training is the heart of the training program, and you must successfully meet minimum language requirements in order to complete training and become a Volunteer.  Experienced Salvadoran language and cultural facilitators (LCFs) teach formal, participatory language classes five days a week in small classes of four to five people. Spanish terminology is also introduced in the health, culture, safety and technical components of training.
+
Corps de la Paix
  
Your language training will incorporate a community-based approach. You will have classroom time and will be given assignments to work on outside of the classroom and with your host family to learn the language. Our goal is to get you to a point of basic social communication skills so that you can practice and develop language skills more thoroughly once you are at your site. Prior to swearing in as a Volunteer, you will work on strategies to continue language studies during your two years of service.  
+
B.P. 12091
  
===Cross-Cultural Training ===
+
Poste Zoom Ankorondrano
  
As part of your pre-service training, you will live with a Salvadoran host family. This experience is designed to ease your transition into life at your site. Families have gone through an orientation conducted by Peace Corps staff to explain the purpose of the pre-service training program and to assist them in helping you adapt to living in El Salvador. Many Volunteers form strong and lasting friendships with their host families.
+
101 Antananarivo
  
Cross-cultural and community development will be covered to help improve your skills of perception, communication and facilitation. Topics such as community mobilization, conflict resolution, gender and development, and traditional and political structures are also addressed.
+
Madagascar
  
  
  
===Health Training ===
+
Once you have become a Volunteer, you will receive your mail directly at your assigned site.
  
During pre-service training, you will be given basic medical training and information. You are expected to practice preventive healthcare and to take responsibility for your own health by adhering to all medical policies. As a trainee, you are required to attend all medical sessions. The topics include preventive health measures and minor and major medical issues that Volunteers may encounter while in El Salvador.  Sexual health and harassment, nutrition, mental health, and safety issues are also covered.
+
===Telephones===
  
===Safety Training ===
+
You will not likely have routine access to a telephone during training, although it is possible to buy a cellphone and phone credit in Mantasoa or the nearby market in Manjakandriana, a regional town, if you make a field trip there as a stage. If you have an unlocked GSM phone, it is possible to buy a Sim card and credit almost everywhere. The training site, Mantasoa, has telephones for emergency use.
  
During the safety training sessions, you will learn how to adopt a lifestyle that reduces risk in your home, at work, and during your travels. You will also learn appropriate, effective strategies for coping with unwanted attention and about your individual responsibility for promoting safety throughout your service.  
+
You can buy phone credit everywhere, and it is possible to call the United States, although credit is expensive. If you are living in a rural site, you may not have good cell service.
  
===Additional Training During Volunteer Service ===
+
===Computer, Internet, and E-mail Access===
  
In its commitment to institutionalize quality training, the Peace Corps has implemented a training system that provides trainees and Volunteers with continuous opportunities to examine their commitment to Peace Corps service while increasing their technical and cross-cultural skills.  
+
Bring your laptop. Even if you live in a house or site without electricity, you will want it for visits to Tana or your regional capital. Computer ownership is increasing amongst the Malagasy middle class.
  
During your service, there are usually four training events. The titles and objectives for those trainings are as follows:
+
Computers are available for use by Volunteers at the Peace Corps office.  
  
* Pre-service training: Provides trainees with solid technical, language, and cross-cultural knowledge to prepare them for living and working successfully in El Salvador.
+
Many major cities have Internet cafes. USB modems which can be used with cell phone credit are increasingly common, although they are expensive. It is likely that you will have limited internet access.
* In-service training: Provides an opportunity for Volunteers to upgrade their technical, language, and project development skills while sharing their experiences and reaffirming their commitment after having served for three to six months.
+
* Midterm conference (done in conjunction with technical sector in-service): Assists Volunteers in reviewing their first year, reassessing their personal and project objectives, and planning for their second year of service.  
+
* Close of service conference: Prepares Volunteers for the future after Peace Corps service and to review Volunteers’ respective projects and personal experiences.  
+
  
The number, length, and design of these trainings will be adapted to country-specific needs and conditions. The key to the training system is that training events are integrated and interrelated, from the pre-departure orientation through the end of your service, and are planned, implemented, and evaluated cooperatively by the training staff, Peace Corps staff, and Volunteers.
+
===Housing and Site Location===
  
 +
Volunteers are posted throughout the country. Housing conditions here vary from mud houses with thatched roofs to modern cement houses with running water and electricity.  Your project, the area of the country, and the availability of housing all have a role in the type of home you will have.  Many Volunteers have only a pit toilet and a thatched shed for taking bucket showers. Environmental Volunteers tend to live in more remote areas (near the national parks and protected areas), while education and health Volunteers generally live in areas of greater population density.
  
[[Category:El Salvador]]
+
During training, you will live with and have most of your meals with a hjhjhjhjhjhjhjfor this period. Trainees generally stay in a village with three or four other trainees and one or two staff members. Volunteers often form strong and lasting friendships with their host families.
[[Category:Training|El Salvador]]
+
 
 +
===Living Allowance and Money Management===
 +
 
 +
As a Volunteer, you will receive a modest living allowance that will allow you to live on a par with your colleagues and co-workers. The amount of the allowance is based on regular surveys of Volunteers and the cost of living in Madagascar.  The living allowance is usually deposited quarterly, in local currency, in Volunteers’ bank accounts, so an ability to manage funds wisely is important. The allowance is currently equivalent to approximately $128 per month. In addition, you receive a monthly travel allowance.
 +
 
 +
You will also receive a leave allowance of $24 per month, which is standard across all Peace Corps countries and paid in local currency along with your living allowance.
 +
 
 +
Volunteers suggest you bring cash and credit cards for vacation travel. The amount depends on the amount of traveling you plan to do while serving in Madagascar. Some local banks offer ATM cards, but only for local accounts. Only a few Malagasy establishments accept credit cards, so they are mostly useful for travel to other countries.
 +
 
 +
The local currency is the Malagasy ariary (MGA). The current exchange rate is approximately 2,150 ariary to the dollar.
 +
 
 +
===Food and Diet===
 +
 
 +
The staple food in Madagascar is rice, which is eaten with vegetables, beans, or meat. Many fruits and vegetables grow in Madagascar, and with a little creativity one can enjoy a varied diet. Most Volunteers prepare their own food. Some, after becoming more familiar with their site, hire someone to help with household work, including cooking. Meat and dairy products are available in the larger towns, but they can be expensive.
 +
 
 +
 
 +
 
 +
If you are a vegetarian, you will be able to eat well in Madagascar after you learn about local foods and their preparation. Some Malagasy are not familiar with vegetarianism and will not be prepared to serve a vegetarian meal if you are a guest in their home. However, a sensitive explanation of your preferences will be accepted. Most vegetarian Volunteers have no difficulty after an initial adjustment period.
 +
 
 +
===Transportation===
 +
 
 +
Volunteers’ primary mode of transport are taxi brousses (small vans or minibuses usually loaded with people and goods). Brousses travel among towns on irregular schedules (i.e., when full), so travel in Madagascar is never a timed affair.
 +
 
 +
Many Volunteers use mountain bikes. If you plan to ride a bicycle, wearing a helmet is required. You can get one from the Peace Corps office.
 +
 
 +
Volunteers are not allowed to drive or operate motor vehicles or ride on motorcycles in Madagascar.
 +
 
 +
===Geography and Climate===
 +
 
 +
Madagascar is south of the equator, so its seasons will be the opposite of what you are accustomed to. At the winter solstice, for example, when the sun is directly over the Tropic of Capricorn, the weather is warm. Conversely, at the time of the summer solstice in June, the weather is cool.
 +
 
 +
 
 +
 
 +
Madagascar has a tropical climate with rainy and dry seasons.  During the rainy season (November to March), southwest tradewinds drop their moisture on the eastern mountain slopes and blow hot and dry in the west. North and northwest monsoon air currents bring heavy rains in summer, decreasing as one moves southward, so that, for example, the rainfall in Fort Dauphin is half that in Tamatave. During February and March, eastern Madagascar can be hit by cyclones, which may impact other areas, particularly in the north. The dry season runs from April to October.
 +
 
 +
Seasonal changes in temperature in Madagascar are also influenced by altitude and latitude. From December to April, the coastal regions are very hot and dry in the west but very hot and wet in the east. Average midday temperatures in the dry season are 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30°C) on the coast.
 +
 
 +
From December to April (summer), the central plateau is warm, with periods of rain. In June, July, and August (winter), the central plateau gets very chilly, while the west coast is warm and dry and the east coast is warm with occasional showers.
 +
 
 +
===Social Activities===
 +
 
 +
There are several radio stations in Madagascar, some of which play popular music. Many Volunteers bring shortwave radios so they can listen to international broadcasts (BBC, Voice of America, Radio Nederlands, etc.). Madagascar has no cinemas.
 +
 
 +
The most common form of entertainment is socializing with friends and neighbors. Music is very important to the Malagasy, and singing together can be a lot of fun. While Volunteers are encouraged to remain at their sites to develop relationships with people in their community, the Peace Corps recognizes that occasional trips to the capital or to visit friends are also a necessity. Vacation time is allotted for non-work-related and approved absences from one’s site.
 +
 
 +
 
 +
 
 +
===Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior===
 +
 
 +
One of the challenges all Peace Corps Volunteers have is attempting to fit into the local culture and act like a professional while at the same time maintaining one’s own cultural identity. It is not an easy thing to resolve, and we can only provide you with guidelines. You will be working as a representative of a government ministry and will be expected to dress and behave accordingly, whether you are in training, traveling, or on the job. While some of your counterparts may dress in seemingly worn or shabby clothes, this is undoubtedly due to economics rather than choice. The likelihood is that they are wearing their best. A foreigner who wears ragged, unmended clothing, however, is likely to be considered an affront.
 +
 
 +
Malagasy regard one’s dress as an expression of one’s respect for others. Neatness of appearance is valued more than being stylish. Unfortunately, just one inappropriately dressed Volunteer could cause a Malagasy host agency to form a negative opinion about the Peace Corps and share it with other officials at national and regional meetings. Volunteers are therefore expected to dress appropriately to avoid jeopardizing the credibility of the entire program.
 +
 
 +
Following are Peace Corps/Madagascar’s guidelines for Volunteers’ dress. (They have been formalized in response to advice from people in Madagascar and other countries where the Peace Corps works and are meant to inform, not to offend.)
 +
 
 +
* Women’s dresses and skirts should fall to or below the knees.
 +
* Men and women should wear shorts only at home, when exercising, or when doing work for which Malagasy counterparts are also wearing shorts. If shorts are worn in public, they should be of walking length for both men and women.
 +
* Hair should be clean and combed. Men’s hair should not be longer than shirt-collar length, and beards should be neatly trimmed.
 +
* Men should not wear a hat indoors.
 +
* Flip-flops should not be worn as professional footwear.
 +
* Female Volunteers should wear appropriate undergarments, including bras and slips.
 +
* Excessive body piercing or tattoos should not be visible.
 +
 
 +
 
 +
===Personal Safety===
 +
 
 +
More detailed information about the Peace Corps’ approach to safety is contained in the Health Care and Safety chapter, but it is an important issue and cannot be overemphasized. As stated in the Volunteer Handbook, becoming a Peace Corps Volunteer entails certain safety risks. Living and traveling in an unfamiliar environment (oftentimes alone), having a limited understanding of local language and culture, and being perceived as well-off are some of the factors that can put a Volunteer at risk. Many Volunteers experience varying degrees of unwanted attention and harassment. Petty thefts and burglaries are not uncommon, and incidents of physical and sexual assault do occur, although most Madagascar Volunteers complete their two years of service without personal security incidents. The Peace Corps has established procedures and policies designed to help you reduce your risks and enhance your safety and security. These procedures and policies, in addition to safety training, will be provided once you arrive in Madagascar. At the same time, you are expected to take responsibility for your safety and well-being.
 +
 
 +
===Rewards and Frustrations===
 +
 
 +
Although the potential for job satisfaction is very high, like all Volunteers, you will encounter numerous frustrations.
 +
 
 +
Perceptions of time are very different from those in America.  The lack of basic infrastructure can become tiring. Host agencies do not always provide expected support in a timely manner. The Malagasy generally perceive Americans as very rich. Adapting to a new culture as a Peace Corps Volunteer is often described as an intense series of emotional peaks and valleys.
 +
 
 +
As a Volunteer, you will be given a great deal of responsibility and independence in your work—perhaps more than in any other job you will ever have. Often you will need to motivate yourself and others with little guidance. You might work for months with little visible impact and without receiving feedback on your work. Development is a slow process. You must possess the self-confidence, patience, and vision to continue working toward long-term goals without seeing immediate results.
 +
 
 +
The AIDS pandemic strikes across all social strata in many Peace Corps countries. The loss of teachers has crippled education systems, while illness and disability drains family income and forces governments and donors to redirect limited resources from other priorities. The fear and uncertainty AIDS causes has led to increased domestic violence and stigmatizing of people living with HIV/AIDS, isolating them from friends and family and cutting them off from economic opportunities.
 +
 
 +
As a Peace Corps Volunteer, you will confront these issues on a very personal level. It is important to be aware of the high emotional toll that disease, death, and violence can have on Volunteers. As you strive to integrate into your community, you will develop relationships with local people who might die during your service. Because of the AIDS pandemic, some Volunteers will be regularly meeting with HIV positive people and working with training staff, office staff and host family members living with AIDS. Volunteers need to prepare themselves to embrace these relationships in a sensitive and positive manner. Likewise, malaria and malnutrition, motor vehicle accidents and other unintentional injuries, domestic violence and corporal punishment are problems a Volunteer may confront. You will need to anticipate these situations and utilize supportive resources available throughout your training and service to maintain your own emotional strength, so that you can continue to be of service to your community.
 +
 
 +
To overcome these difficulties, you will need maturity, flexibility, open-mindedness, and resourcefulness. Judging by the experience of former Volunteers, the peaks are well worth the difficult times, and most Volunteers leave Madagascar feeling they have gained much more than they sacrificed during their service. If you are able to make the commitment to integrate into your community and work hard, your service could be a truly life-altering experience.
 +
 
 +
[[Category:Madagascar]]

Revision as of 08:44, 8 December 2015

Country Resources


Communications

Mail

Few countries in the world offer the level of mail service considered normal in the United States. If you expect U.S. standards of mail service, you will be in for some frustration. Mail takes a minimum of two to three weeks to arrive in Madagascar. Some mail may simply not arrive (fortunately this is not a frequent occurrence, but it does happen). Advise your family and friends to number their letters and to include “Airmail” and “Par Avion” on their envelopes. Packages take six to nine weeks by airmail and about six months by surface mail. If someone is sending you a package, it is a good idea to keep it small and to use a padded envelope; that way it will be treated as a letter.

Despite these delays, we encourage you to write to your family regularly and to number your letters. Family and friends typically become worried when they do not hear from you, so it is a good idea to advise them that mail service is sporadic and that they should not worry if they do not receive your letters regularly.xxxxxxxxx

Volunteers in Madagascar may receive packages but are responsible for all duty fees, which may be imposed on food and cosmetics and are based on the items’ value. Also be aware that packages containing valuable items may occasionally get lost or held up.

Your address during training will be:

"Your Name", PCT Peace Corps

Corps de la Paix

B.P. 12091

Poste Zoom Ankorondrano

101 Antananarivo

Madagascar


Once you have become a Volunteer, you will receive your mail directly at your assigned site.

Telephones

You will not likely have routine access to a telephone during training, although it is possible to buy a cellphone and phone credit in Mantasoa or the nearby market in Manjakandriana, a regional town, if you make a field trip there as a stage. If you have an unlocked GSM phone, it is possible to buy a Sim card and credit almost everywhere. The training site, Mantasoa, has telephones for emergency use.

You can buy phone credit everywhere, and it is possible to call the United States, although credit is expensive. If you are living in a rural site, you may not have good cell service.

Computer, Internet, and E-mail Access

Bring your laptop. Even if you live in a house or site without electricity, you will want it for visits to Tana or your regional capital. Computer ownership is increasing amongst the Malagasy middle class.

Computers are available for use by Volunteers at the Peace Corps office.

Many major cities have Internet cafes. USB modems which can be used with cell phone credit are increasingly common, although they are expensive. It is likely that you will have limited internet access.

Housing and Site Location

Volunteers are posted throughout the country. Housing conditions here vary from mud houses with thatched roofs to modern cement houses with running water and electricity. Your project, the area of the country, and the availability of housing all have a role in the type of home you will have. Many Volunteers have only a pit toilet and a thatched shed for taking bucket showers. Environmental Volunteers tend to live in more remote areas (near the national parks and protected areas), while education and health Volunteers generally live in areas of greater population density.

During training, you will live with and have most of your meals with a hjhjhjhjhjhjhjfor this period. Trainees generally stay in a village with three or four other trainees and one or two staff members. Volunteers often form strong and lasting friendships with their host families.

Living Allowance and Money Management

As a Volunteer, you will receive a modest living allowance that will allow you to live on a par with your colleagues and co-workers. The amount of the allowance is based on regular surveys of Volunteers and the cost of living in Madagascar. The living allowance is usually deposited quarterly, in local currency, in Volunteers’ bank accounts, so an ability to manage funds wisely is important. The allowance is currently equivalent to approximately $128 per month. In addition, you receive a monthly travel allowance.

You will also receive a leave allowance of $24 per month, which is standard across all Peace Corps countries and paid in local currency along with your living allowance.

Volunteers suggest you bring cash and credit cards for vacation travel. The amount depends on the amount of traveling you plan to do while serving in Madagascar. Some local banks offer ATM cards, but only for local accounts. Only a few Malagasy establishments accept credit cards, so they are mostly useful for travel to other countries.

The local currency is the Malagasy ariary (MGA). The current exchange rate is approximately 2,150 ariary to the dollar.

Food and Diet

The staple food in Madagascar is rice, which is eaten with vegetables, beans, or meat. Many fruits and vegetables grow in Madagascar, and with a little creativity one can enjoy a varied diet. Most Volunteers prepare their own food. Some, after becoming more familiar with their site, hire someone to help with household work, including cooking. Meat and dairy products are available in the larger towns, but they can be expensive.


If you are a vegetarian, you will be able to eat well in Madagascar after you learn about local foods and their preparation. Some Malagasy are not familiar with vegetarianism and will not be prepared to serve a vegetarian meal if you are a guest in their home. However, a sensitive explanation of your preferences will be accepted. Most vegetarian Volunteers have no difficulty after an initial adjustment period.

Transportation

Volunteers’ primary mode of transport are taxi brousses (small vans or minibuses usually loaded with people and goods). Brousses travel among towns on irregular schedules (i.e., when full), so travel in Madagascar is never a timed affair.

Many Volunteers use mountain bikes. If you plan to ride a bicycle, wearing a helmet is required. You can get one from the Peace Corps office.

Volunteers are not allowed to drive or operate motor vehicles or ride on motorcycles in Madagascar.

Geography and Climate

Madagascar is south of the equator, so its seasons will be the opposite of what you are accustomed to. At the winter solstice, for example, when the sun is directly over the Tropic of Capricorn, the weather is warm. Conversely, at the time of the summer solstice in June, the weather is cool.


Madagascar has a tropical climate with rainy and dry seasons. During the rainy season (November to March), southwest tradewinds drop their moisture on the eastern mountain slopes and blow hot and dry in the west. North and northwest monsoon air currents bring heavy rains in summer, decreasing as one moves southward, so that, for example, the rainfall in Fort Dauphin is half that in Tamatave. During February and March, eastern Madagascar can be hit by cyclones, which may impact other areas, particularly in the north. The dry season runs from April to October.

Seasonal changes in temperature in Madagascar are also influenced by altitude and latitude. From December to April, the coastal regions are very hot and dry in the west but very hot and wet in the east. Average midday temperatures in the dry season are 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30°C) on the coast.

From December to April (summer), the central plateau is warm, with periods of rain. In June, July, and August (winter), the central plateau gets very chilly, while the west coast is warm and dry and the east coast is warm with occasional showers.

Social Activities

There are several radio stations in Madagascar, some of which play popular music. Many Volunteers bring shortwave radios so they can listen to international broadcasts (BBC, Voice of America, Radio Nederlands, etc.). Madagascar has no cinemas.

The most common form of entertainment is socializing with friends and neighbors. Music is very important to the Malagasy, and singing together can be a lot of fun. While Volunteers are encouraged to remain at their sites to develop relationships with people in their community, the Peace Corps recognizes that occasional trips to the capital or to visit friends are also a necessity. Vacation time is allotted for non-work-related and approved absences from one’s site.


Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior

One of the challenges all Peace Corps Volunteers have is attempting to fit into the local culture and act like a professional while at the same time maintaining one’s own cultural identity. It is not an easy thing to resolve, and we can only provide you with guidelines. You will be working as a representative of a government ministry and will be expected to dress and behave accordingly, whether you are in training, traveling, or on the job. While some of your counterparts may dress in seemingly worn or shabby clothes, this is undoubtedly due to economics rather than choice. The likelihood is that they are wearing their best. A foreigner who wears ragged, unmended clothing, however, is likely to be considered an affront.

Malagasy regard one’s dress as an expression of one’s respect for others. Neatness of appearance is valued more than being stylish. Unfortunately, just one inappropriately dressed Volunteer could cause a Malagasy host agency to form a negative opinion about the Peace Corps and share it with other officials at national and regional meetings. Volunteers are therefore expected to dress appropriately to avoid jeopardizing the credibility of the entire program.

Following are Peace Corps/Madagascar’s guidelines for Volunteers’ dress. (They have been formalized in response to advice from people in Madagascar and other countries where the Peace Corps works and are meant to inform, not to offend.)

  • Women’s dresses and skirts should fall to or below the knees.
  • Men and women should wear shorts only at home, when exercising, or when doing work for which Malagasy counterparts are also wearing shorts. If shorts are worn in public, they should be of walking length for both men and women.
  • Hair should be clean and combed. Men’s hair should not be longer than shirt-collar length, and beards should be neatly trimmed.
  • Men should not wear a hat indoors.
  • Flip-flops should not be worn as professional footwear.
  • Female Volunteers should wear appropriate undergarments, including bras and slips.
  • Excessive body piercing or tattoos should not be visible.


Personal Safety

More detailed information about the Peace Corps’ approach to safety is contained in the Health Care and Safety chapter, but it is an important issue and cannot be overemphasized. As stated in the Volunteer Handbook, becoming a Peace Corps Volunteer entails certain safety risks. Living and traveling in an unfamiliar environment (oftentimes alone), having a limited understanding of local language and culture, and being perceived as well-off are some of the factors that can put a Volunteer at risk. Many Volunteers experience varying degrees of unwanted attention and harassment. Petty thefts and burglaries are not uncommon, and incidents of physical and sexual assault do occur, although most Madagascar Volunteers complete their two years of service without personal security incidents. The Peace Corps has established procedures and policies designed to help you reduce your risks and enhance your safety and security. These procedures and policies, in addition to safety training, will be provided once you arrive in Madagascar. At the same time, you are expected to take responsibility for your safety and well-being.

Rewards and Frustrations

Although the potential for job satisfaction is very high, like all Volunteers, you will encounter numerous frustrations.

Perceptions of time are very different from those in America. The lack of basic infrastructure can become tiring. Host agencies do not always provide expected support in a timely manner. The Malagasy generally perceive Americans as very rich. Adapting to a new culture as a Peace Corps Volunteer is often described as an intense series of emotional peaks and valleys.

As a Volunteer, you will be given a great deal of responsibility and independence in your work—perhaps more than in any other job you will ever have. Often you will need to motivate yourself and others with little guidance. You might work for months with little visible impact and without receiving feedback on your work. Development is a slow process. You must possess the self-confidence, patience, and vision to continue working toward long-term goals without seeing immediate results.

The AIDS pandemic strikes across all social strata in many Peace Corps countries. The loss of teachers has crippled education systems, while illness and disability drains family income and forces governments and donors to redirect limited resources from other priorities. The fear and uncertainty AIDS causes has led to increased domestic violence and stigmatizing of people living with HIV/AIDS, isolating them from friends and family and cutting them off from economic opportunities.

As a Peace Corps Volunteer, you will confront these issues on a very personal level. It is important to be aware of the high emotional toll that disease, death, and violence can have on Volunteers. As you strive to integrate into your community, you will develop relationships with local people who might die during your service. Because of the AIDS pandemic, some Volunteers will be regularly meeting with HIV positive people and working with training staff, office staff and host family members living with AIDS. Volunteers need to prepare themselves to embrace these relationships in a sensitive and positive manner. Likewise, malaria and malnutrition, motor vehicle accidents and other unintentional injuries, domestic violence and corporal punishment are problems a Volunteer may confront. You will need to anticipate these situations and utilize supportive resources available throughout your training and service to maintain your own emotional strength, so that you can continue to be of service to your community.

To overcome these difficulties, you will need maturity, flexibility, open-mindedness, and resourcefulness. Judging by the experience of former Volunteers, the peaks are well worth the difficult times, and most Volunteers leave Madagascar feeling they have gained much more than they sacrificed during their service. If you are able to make the commitment to integrate into your community and work hard, your service could be a truly life-altering experience.