Difference between pages "Zambia" and "Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Niger"

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{{CountryboxAlternative
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{{Diversity_and_cross-cultural_issues_by_country}}
|Countryname= Zambia
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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.  
|CountryCode = za
+
|status = [[ACTIVE]]
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|Flag= Flag_of_Zambia.png
+
|Welcomebooklink = http://www.peacecorps.gov/welcomebooks/zmwb611.pdf
+
|Region= [[Africa]]
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|CountryDirector= [[Cynthia Threlkeld]]
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|Sectors= [[Agriculture]]<br> [[Education]] <br>[[Environment]]<br>[[Health and HIV/AIDS]]
+
|ProgramDates= [[1993]] - [[Present]]
+
|CurrentlyServing= 237
+
|TotalVolunteers= 1100
+
|Languages= [[Bemba]], [[Nyanja]], [[Kaonde]], [[Lunda]], [[Tumbuka]], [[Tonga]], [[English]]
+
|Map= Za-map.gif
+
|stagingdate= Feb 13 2011
+
|stagingcity= Washington, DC
+
}}
+
  
 +
Our diversity helps us accomplish that goal. In other ways, however, our diversity poses challenges. In Niger, 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 Niger.
  
The government of Zambia requested the Peace Corps' assistance soon after the election of President Chiluba in 1991. Volunteer projects focus on health, agriculture, the environment, and education. All Volunteers, regardless of sector, are trained in methods to promote HIV/AIDS awareness.
+
Outside of Niger’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 perception that all Americans are rich and have blond hair and blue eyes. The people of Niger 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 Niger, 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.
  
==Peace Corps History==
+
===Overview of Diversity in Niger ===
  
''Main article: [[History of the Peace Corps in Zambia]]''
+
The Peace Corps staff in Niger 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.
  
In April 2004, the Peace Corps celebrated its 10th anniversary of service in Zambia. Following the formalization of a country agreement in 1993, Peace Corps/Zambia opened its program in 1994 with a first group of water and sanitation/hygiene education Volunteers. In 1996, the program expanded to include projects in community action for health and rural aquaculture. The project expanded again in 2001 to encompass an income, food, and environmental project. In 2003, a new education project was launched and a fifth program is underway. Using emergency HIV/AIDS funding, a separate HIV/AIDS project will begin in the summer of 2005.
+
A challenge for Volunteers from groups with less representation in the Peace Corps may be the lack of a common background with other Volunteers in Niger.  
  
Since the first Peace Corps Volunteers arrived 1994, approximately 1,100 Volunteers have served in Zambia, which is now one of the larger Peace Corps programs in Africa. Volunteers live and work in eight of Zambia’s nine provinces.  
+
Currently, the group of Volunteers in Niger is fairly homogenous: relatively young (mostly between 22 and 30) and largely Caucasian and middle class. Volunteers who have expressed a need for special support include those who are older than the majority, those who belong to minority ethnic groups, and those who are homosexual. If you are in such a category, you should come prepared to cope with being possibly the only senior, African American, Native American, Hispanic American, Asian American, Jew, gay, or lesbian in your training group or in the country.  
  
 +
===What Might a Volunteer Face? ===
  
==Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyle==
+
====Possible Issues for Female Volunteers ====
  
''Main article: [[Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Zambia]]''
+
Women’s roles are very distinct in Nigerien culture. Women are charged with caring for the family and work long, hard hours to prepare food, obtain water, and rear children. In addition, women do not enjoy the same level of equality as most women in the United States do. Few are educated—only 8 percent of women in Niger are literate—and very few hold responsible positions in government or other organizations.  Many men have several wives. In strict Muslim households, especially in the eastern part of the country, women are sometimes cloistered (i.e., required to stay in their homes unless accompanied by their husband). Certain physically challenging tasks, including pounding millet and drawing water, are considered exclusively women’s work and are not done by men. These cultural practices can be shocking to some Volunteers. However, almost all find that they can work successfully with both women and men in Niger.
  
Most Volunteers live in earthen houses lighted by kerosene lamps. Meals are cooked over wood or charcoal. Typically, Volunteer sites are in villages where there is neither plumbing nor electricity. You will have your own mud brick/thatch roof house, pit latrine, outdoor cooking area and shower area. Drinking/washing water may need to be carried from as far as 30 minutes away on foot. Some sites will be very isolated and the closest Volunteer may be 100 kilometers or more away.
+
Female Volunteers have much more freedom than Nigerien women and are not expected to adhere strictly to gender roles. This provides them with a unique perspective on Nigerien life. As foreign women, they are allowed to participate in both male and female activities, whereas male Volunteers are limited to socializing only with other men. This does not mean, however, that female Volunteers are entirely free of expected gender roles. Although a female Volunteer is more accepted by men, she is still a woman and therefore considered different. For example, female Volunteers must keep their knees covered, with either long skirts or baggy pants.  
  
Within the first week of arriving in Zambia Peace Corps will place you into a language group. The associate Peace Corps director (APCD) of your program may offer advice based on the various skills and interest of individuals in your group. Your placements are made in cooperation with the training staff and are based on their assessments and recommendations regarding your skill levels in the technical, cross-cultural, and language areas. Your APCD can discuss particular preferences concerning a site. You will not be able to choose your site. Site placements are made using the following criteria (in priority order):
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Nigerien women usually marry between the ages of 13 and 18, unless they reside in cities. As a single woman living alone in a community, you may be approached by men who wish to court or date you. But there is less need for concern regarding sexual harassment or assault in Niger than in some other countries. Nigerien culture greatly minimizes physical contact because of the influence of Islam, and the chief of a village will look out for a female as he would a daughter. Nevertheless, it is important to keep your relations as platonic as possible to ensure good working relationships with people in your community.
  
* Medical considerations;
+
====Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color ====
* Community needs;
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* Site requirements matched with demonstrated technical, cross cultural, and language skills;
+
* Personal preference of the Volunteer.
+
  
==Training==
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People of color may confront special challenges in Niger. One of the most common is being mistaken for someone from your race’s or ethnic group’s country of origin. Along with this, Nigeriens may not believe that you are a U.S. citizen, as the majority of people from the United States they have seen or heard about are of European descent.
  
''Main article: [[Training in Zambia]]''
+
African-American Volunteers have found that being black in Africa has advantages as well as challenges. You may be more easily accepted by your community, since you are not visibly different and thereby blend in more. However, villagers’ expectations may be higher because of your race. They may expect you to be more like them and not afford you the same allowances in language learning and cultural adaptation that they grant to your white peers. In public places, you may be taken for Nigerien and thus expected to conform to cultural norms, such as the Muslim dress code for women. Some African-American Volunteers have struggled with being told by their villagers that they are not truly black.
  
Pre-service training is probably the most intensive period during your Peace Corps service. During your 8 to 10 weeks of training time (depending on your project), you will need to accumulate the knowledge and experience necessary for the first several months of service. Before beings sworn-in as a Volunteer, you will also need to demonstrate that you meet the criteria to qualify for Volunteer service.
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There is a support system among Volunteers to help you adjust to similar issues in Niger.  
  
Your first two nights in Zambia will be spent at a simple lodge/camp near Lusaka. Following a brief orientation program, most trainees will proceed to their first site visits. Health Volunteers will proceed to the training center for two days of orientation and then move into their villages with their host families. The training center is situated in Chongwe, a small town to the east of the capital city of Zambia, Lusaka.  Regardless of sector, your home stay families will be your hosts throughout training.
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====Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers ====
  
==Health Care and Safety==
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There are and have been Volunteers over age 40 in Niger.  The Peace Corps welcomes the experience and special skills of older Volunteers. Like other Volunteers, you should be prepared for the harsh climate and basic living conditions, and need to take special care of your health because of the lack of medical facilities in Nigerien villages. Because there are so few older Volunteers in Niger, you may find yourself missing the company of people of similar age.
  
''Main article: [[Health care and safety in Zambia]]''
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====Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers====
  
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. The Peace Corps in Zambia maintains a clinic with two full-time medical officers who take care of Volunteers’ primary health-care needs. Additional medical services, such as testing and basic treatment, are also available in Zambia at local hospitals. If a Volunteer becomes seriously ill, that person will be transported to either South Africa, the designated regional medical evacuation center, or to the United States.
+
Nigerien culture has been described as homophobic, and gay, lesbian, and bisexual Volunteers may find it difficult to serve here. Because of the negative attitudes regarding homosexuality, it would very difficult to maintain a positive working relationship with villagers and be open about your sexual orientation. You are likely to find a support system within the Volunteer group, but you are unlikely to be able to be open outside that circle.  
  
The Peace Corps medical officers and health unit support your health needs in-country. The Volunteer health program emphasizes prevention and self-responsibility. Although medical care overseas differs significantly from the health care you may be familiar with in the U.S., your medical care during Peace Corps service is designed to meet your basic needs. It is important that you share your health concerns with a medical officer, including any discomfort you might have about your diagnosis and treatment.  
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'''See also:''' Articles about Niger on the National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Peace Corps Alumni Association website at http://www.lgbrpcv.org/articles.htm
  
 +
====Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers ====
  
==Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues==
+
Islam is the predominant cultural influence in Niger. It arrived beginning in the 12th century, and more than 90 percent of the population are practicing Muslims. Although there are a few militant Islamic groups in the country, the government has been able to prevent incidents of violence.  The government is officially secular, and other religions are well tolerated. There are some 400 Christian missionaries in the country, most of them Americans. Volunteers are free to practice their own religion in Niger as long as they do not engage in proselytizing. Note, however, that there are no Christian churches outside major towns.
  
''Main article: [[Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Zambia]]''
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Nigeriens may inquire about your religion out of curiosity or try to influence you to become Muslim. However, this is not so much because they object to other religions as because they are concerned (like those of many religions) for your afterlife, as they believe one cannot go to heaven unless one practices the “right” religion.
  
In Zambia, 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 certain host countries.
+
====Possible Issues for Volunteers With Disabilities ====
  
Outside of Zambia’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 Zambia 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. We ask that you be supportive of one another.  
+
As a disabled Volunteer in Niger, you may find that you face a special set of challenges. In Niger, as in other parts of the world, some people hold prejudicial attitudes toward individuals with disabilities and may discriminate against them. And there is very little of the infrastructure to accommodate individuals with disabilities that has been developed in the United States.  
  
* Possible Issues for Female Volunteers in Zambia
+
The Peace Corps program in Niger focuses on rural villages and small towns, which means it would be extraordinarily difficult, as well as unsafe, for anyone with a serious physical handicap to live in rural Niger. Even in Niamey and regional capitals, there are no public accommodations for people with disabilities.
* Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color in Zambia
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* Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers in Zambia
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* Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers in Zambia
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* Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers
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* Possible Issues for Volunteers with Disabilities
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* Possible Issues for Married Volunteers
+
  
 +
That being said, as part of the medical clearance process, the Peace Corps Office of Medical Services determined that you were physically and emotionally capable, with or without reasonable accommodation, to perform a full tour of Volunteer service in Niger without unreasonable risk of harm to yourself or interruption of your service. The Peace Corps/Niger staff will work with disabled Volunteers to make reasonable accommodations for them in their training, housing, job sites, or in other areas to enable them to serve safely and effectively.
  
==Frequently Asked Questions==
+
[[Category:Niger]]
 
+
{{Volunteersurvey2008
+
|H1r=  30
+
|H1s=  73.3
+
|H2r=  8
+
|H2s=  88.9
+
|H3r=  14
+
|H3s=  87.8
+
|H4r=  16
+
|H4s=  110
+
|H5r=  15
+
|H5s=  57.8
+
|H6r=  4
+
|H6s=  108.3
+
}}
+
 
+
''Main article: [[FAQs about Peace Corps in Zambia]]''
+
 
+
* How much luggage will I be allowed to bring to Zambia?
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* What is the electric current in Zambia?
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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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* Do I need an international driver’s license?
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* What should I bring as gifts for Zambian 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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* How can my family contact me in an emergency?
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* Can I call home from Zambia?
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* Should I bring a cellular phone with me?
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* Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?
+
 
+
 
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==Packing List==
+
 
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''Main article: [[Packing list for Zambia]]''
+
 
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This list has been compiled by Volunteers serving in Zambia 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 can always have things sent to you later. You obviously cannot bring everything we mention, so consider those items that make the most sense to you personally and professionally. As you decide what to bring, keep in mind that you have an 80pound weight restriction on baggage. Pack things that will help you to be content at your post. Used clothes markets or salualas (places to “rummage through piles”) are plentiful here and most Volunteers shop for clothing here or have items made. All projects require a great deal of field work, so bring clothes that can get dirty - don't buy new clothes as you prepare for your service, if you feel you must, visit your local thrift store for the items you need, you'll thank yourself later. You occasionally attend office meetings with counterparts, so a pair or two of easy-care slacks and appropriate shirts are necessary. For men, it is okay to pack a few pair of shorts, khaki cargos are safe for casual meetings - especially during hot season. For women, skirts & dresses shouldn't shorter than the knee - leggings are a great solution to the short skirt problem & make it easy to bike w/out flashing everyone. Blouses and dresses should be modest - it's wise to layer a tank top underneath if you're not sure & you'll want those tanks for hot days you are at home & not on official business. You can get almost everything you need in Zambia.
+
 
+
* General Clothing
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* A good raincoat & rain pants - better if you go a size up so you can put them over what you're wearing
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* Double fitted sheets - you can buy sheets in country, but they are usually a set of flat sheets - double fits all mattress sizes
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* Durable Sandals (Chacos, Tevas, Keens, or something you like of that nature)
+
* Kitchen: Favorite spices & recipes
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* French Press if you like ground coffee (BB&B has an unbreakable one that is great)
+
* Highly Recommended: Headlamp! (or two - an invaluable item that is expensive to buy in Zambia & stock up on AAA batteries too)
+
* Ipod (or mp3 player of your choice) & portable Speakers
+
* Solar charger for Ipods & phones (Solio is what most people choose)
+
* Silica gel to salvage your electronics from water & humidity damage - hopefully only in an emergency
+
* International wall outlet adapter (w/ usb port if possible - charge ipods & solios)
+
* Shortwave radio if you want to keep up on World News via BBC, VOA, etc.
+
* Tent, Sleeping Bag, Sleeping Pad - for visiting other volunteers & vacationing for cheap.
+
* Photos from home & OF home, to show country nationals where you lived, what you drove, and your family
+
* Gifts for country nationals: World & US Maps or flags make great gifts, are cheap & dont take up much space to pack
+
 
+
==Volunteer Blogs==
+
 
+
''Main article: [[Blogs of Peace Corps in Zambia]]''
+
 
+
Since 2000 Peace Corps Volunteers in Zambia have been posting blogs on their experiences in Zambia. These blogs are personal and reflect a wide range of opinions about Peace Corps and the country of Zambia. The opinions are those of the blog authors and we have posted feeds on one page as central repository of these blogs.
+
 
+
== Volunteer Projects ==
+
 
+
''Main article: [[Volunteer projects of Peace Corps in Zambia]]''
+
 
+
Peace Corps Volunteers in Zambia have initiated many projects in Peace Corps and some have started websites to promote these projects in Zambia and abroad. Some RPCVs have started American nonprofits to provide continued support to the projects they initiated during their Peace Corps service.
+
 
+
==Peace Corps News==
+
 
+
Current events relating to Peace Corps are also available by [[News | country of service]] or [[News by state|your home state]]
+
 
+
''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+%22zambia%22&output=rss|charset=UTF-8|short|date=M d</rss>
+
 
+
<br>'''[http://peacecorpsjournals.com PEACE CORPS JOURNALS]'''<br>''( As of {{CURRENTDAYNAME}} {{CURRENTMONTHNAME}} {{CURRENTDAY}}, {{CURRENTYEAR}} )''<rss title=off desc=off>http://peacecorpsjournals.com/rss/za/blog/50.xml|charset=UTF-8|short|max=10</rss>
+
 
+
==Country Fund==
+
 
+
Contributions to the [https://www.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=resources.donors.contribute.projDetail&projdesc=611-CFD Zambia Country Fund] will support Volunteer and community projects that will take place in Zambia. These projects include water and sanitation, agricultural development, youth, health and HIV/AIDS programs.
+
 
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==See Also==
+
* [[Inspector General Reports]]
+
* [[Pre-Departure Checklist]]
+
* [[List of resources for Zambia]]
+
 
+
 
+
[[Category:Zambia]] [[Category:Africa]]
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[[Category:Country]]
+

Latest revision as of 09:18, 21 May 2014

Diversity and cross-cultural issues in [[{{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Niger| |5}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Niger| |6}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Niger| |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 Niger| |5}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Niger| |6}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Niger| |7}}]]
  • [[Training in {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Niger| |5}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Niger| |6}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Niger| |7}}]]
  • [[Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Niger| |5}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Niger| |6}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Niger| |7}}]]
  • [[Health care and safety in {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Niger| |5}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Niger| |6}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Niger| |7}}]]
  • [[Diversity and cross-cultural issues in {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Niger| |5}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Niger| |6}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Niger| |7}}]]
  • [[FAQs about Peace Corps in {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Niger| |5}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Niger| |6}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Niger| |7}}]]
  • [[History of the Peace Corps in {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Niger| |5}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Niger| |6}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Niger| |7}}]]
See also:
[[Category:{{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Niger| |5}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Niger| |6}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Niger| |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, our diversity poses challenges. In Niger, 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 Niger.

Outside of Niger’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 perception that all Americans are rich and have blond hair and blue eyes. The people of Niger 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 Niger, 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 Niger[edit]

The Peace Corps staff in Niger 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.

A challenge for Volunteers from groups with less representation in the Peace Corps may be the lack of a common background with other Volunteers in Niger.

Currently, the group of Volunteers in Niger is fairly homogenous: relatively young (mostly between 22 and 30) and largely Caucasian and middle class. Volunteers who have expressed a need for special support include those who are older than the majority, those who belong to minority ethnic groups, and those who are homosexual. If you are in such a category, you should come prepared to cope with being possibly the only senior, African American, Native American, Hispanic American, Asian American, Jew, gay, or lesbian in your training group or in the country.

What Might a Volunteer Face?[edit]

Possible Issues for Female Volunteers[edit]

Women’s roles are very distinct in Nigerien culture. Women are charged with caring for the family and work long, hard hours to prepare food, obtain water, and rear children. In addition, women do not enjoy the same level of equality as most women in the United States do. Few are educated—only 8 percent of women in Niger are literate—and very few hold responsible positions in government or other organizations. Many men have several wives. In strict Muslim households, especially in the eastern part of the country, women are sometimes cloistered (i.e., required to stay in their homes unless accompanied by their husband). Certain physically challenging tasks, including pounding millet and drawing water, are considered exclusively women’s work and are not done by men. These cultural practices can be shocking to some Volunteers. However, almost all find that they can work successfully with both women and men in Niger.

Female Volunteers have much more freedom than Nigerien women and are not expected to adhere strictly to gender roles. This provides them with a unique perspective on Nigerien life. As foreign women, they are allowed to participate in both male and female activities, whereas male Volunteers are limited to socializing only with other men. This does not mean, however, that female Volunteers are entirely free of expected gender roles. Although a female Volunteer is more accepted by men, she is still a woman and therefore considered different. For example, female Volunteers must keep their knees covered, with either long skirts or baggy pants.

Nigerien women usually marry between the ages of 13 and 18, unless they reside in cities. As a single woman living alone in a community, you may be approached by men who wish to court or date you. But there is less need for concern regarding sexual harassment or assault in Niger than in some other countries. Nigerien culture greatly minimizes physical contact because of the influence of Islam, and the chief of a village will look out for a female as he would a daughter. Nevertheless, it is important to keep your relations as platonic as possible to ensure good working relationships with people in your community.

Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color[edit]

People of color may confront special challenges in Niger. One of the most common is being mistaken for someone from your race’s or ethnic group’s country of origin. Along with this, Nigeriens may not believe that you are a U.S. citizen, as the majority of people from the United States they have seen or heard about are of European descent.

African-American Volunteers have found that being black in Africa has advantages as well as challenges. You may be more easily accepted by your community, since you are not visibly different and thereby blend in more. However, villagers’ expectations may be higher because of your race. They may expect you to be more like them and not afford you the same allowances in language learning and cultural adaptation that they grant to your white peers. In public places, you may be taken for Nigerien and thus expected to conform to cultural norms, such as the Muslim dress code for women. Some African-American Volunteers have struggled with being told by their villagers that they are not truly black.

There is a support system among Volunteers to help you adjust to similar issues in Niger.

Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers[edit]

There are and have been Volunteers over age 40 in Niger. The Peace Corps welcomes the experience and special skills of older Volunteers. Like other Volunteers, you should be prepared for the harsh climate and basic living conditions, and need to take special care of your health because of the lack of medical facilities in Nigerien villages. Because there are so few older Volunteers in Niger, you may find yourself missing the company of people of similar age.

Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers[edit]

Nigerien culture has been described as homophobic, and gay, lesbian, and bisexual Volunteers may find it difficult to serve here. Because of the negative attitudes regarding homosexuality, it would very difficult to maintain a positive working relationship with villagers and be open about your sexual orientation. You are likely to find a support system within the Volunteer group, but you are unlikely to be able to be open outside that circle.

See also: Articles about Niger on the National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Peace Corps Alumni Association website at http://www.lgbrpcv.org/articles.htm

Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers[edit]

Islam is the predominant cultural influence in Niger. It arrived beginning in the 12th century, and more than 90 percent of the population are practicing Muslims. Although there are a few militant Islamic groups in the country, the government has been able to prevent incidents of violence. The government is officially secular, and other religions are well tolerated. There are some 400 Christian missionaries in the country, most of them Americans. Volunteers are free to practice their own religion in Niger as long as they do not engage in proselytizing. Note, however, that there are no Christian churches outside major towns.

Nigeriens may inquire about your religion out of curiosity or try to influence you to become Muslim. However, this is not so much because they object to other religions as because they are concerned (like those of many religions) for your afterlife, as they believe one cannot go to heaven unless one practices the “right” religion.

Possible Issues for Volunteers With Disabilities[edit]

As a disabled Volunteer in Niger, you may find that you face a special set of challenges. In Niger, as in other parts of the world, some people hold prejudicial attitudes toward individuals with disabilities and may discriminate against them. And there is very little of the infrastructure to accommodate individuals with disabilities that has been developed in the United States.

The Peace Corps program in Niger focuses on rural villages and small towns, which means it would be extraordinarily difficult, as well as unsafe, for anyone with a serious physical handicap to live in rural Niger. Even in Niamey and regional capitals, there are no public accommodations for people with disabilities.

That being said, as part of the medical clearance process, the Peace Corps Office of Medical Services determined that you were physically and emotionally capable, with or without reasonable accommodation, to perform a full tour of Volunteer service in Niger without unreasonable risk of harm to yourself or interruption of your service. The Peace Corps/Niger staff will work with disabled Volunteers to make reasonable accommodations for them in their training, housing, job sites, or in other areas to enable them to serve safely and effectively.