Difference between pages "Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Ethiopia" and "Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Jordan"

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===Communications===
 
===Communications===
  
Few countries in the world offer the level of mail service we
+
====Mail====
take for granted in the United States. Airmail from the United
+
States to major cities in Ethiopia typically takes 2-4 weeks
+
to arrive. Volunteers have been pleasantly surprised by the
+
efficiency of the Ethiopian postal service, but delayed and lost
+
mail does occur. Advise your family and friends to number
+
their letters and to include “Airmail” and “Par Avion” on
+
their envelopes. Packages normally take 3-4 weeks to reach
+
Ethiopia via airmail. Sending packages by ground mail can
+
take up to a year to arrive so make sure to let your friends
+
and family know this.
+
  
Your address during training will be:<br>
+
Few countries in the world offer the level of mail service we take for granted in the United States. Though the Jordanian mail service is generally reliable, some mail may simply not arrive (fortunately this is not a frequent occurrence, but it does happen). Advise family and friends to send all letters via air mail. Mail can sometimes take as long as two to four weeks between U.S. and Jordan in either direction.
Your Name/PCT <br>
+
US Peace Corps/Ethiopia<br>
+
P.O. Box 7788<br>
+
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia<br>
+
  
You will purchase a personal postal office box once you move
+
If possible, write your family on a regular basis and number your letters. Experience has shown that when a month or two goes by without news from the Volunteer, friends and loved ones become very concerned. Please advise parents, friends, and relatives that mail may be sporadic and that they should not worry if they do not receive your letters regularly.  
to your site. Mail arriving in Addis Ababa, after you have
+
obtained your own postal office box, will continue to be held
+
at the Peace Corps office until you pass through on official
+
business or when a Peace Corps/Addis Ababa staff member
+
visits you at your site.
+
  
===Telephones===
+
Packages can be sent via international mail through the U.S.  postal system. All packages addressed to you are subject to customs. Hints: Used items are usually delivered customs-free, while new items are taxed at full value. Smaller packages (particularly those in padded envelopes) seem to make it through with relative ease.
  
Almost all sites have telecom centers with international long
+
Important: Never have anyone send cash through the mail. Such letters seldom arrive. Packages are inspected by custom officers.  
distance. Peace Corps/Ethiopia provides a telecommunications
+
allowance. Cellular telephones are widespread in Ethiopia,
+
although coverage varies across the country. You will have the
+
option of purchasing a SIM card and phone during pre-service
+
training (PST); almost all current Volunteers have mobile
+
phones.
+
  
===Computer, Internet, and Email Access===
+
Your address during pre-service training will be:
  
Internet access is available at Internet cafes in most towns
+
“Your Name,” PCT
and cities, but can be slow and costly, so most Volunteers use
+
Internet about once every few weeks. Designated computers
+
in the resource center at the Peace Corps office have Internet
+
access, and you are welcome to use these when in Addis
+
Ababa. Many Volunteers bring laptops for research, digital
+
photos or entertainment, but as with any valuable item, there
+
is a risk of theft or damage.
+
  
===Housing and Site Location===
+
c/o Peace Corps/Jordan
  
As a Volunteer, you will most likely live in a peri-urban or
+
P.O. Box 6338
small town and have electricity and a water source at your
+
house, although these services suffer frequent outages and
+
shortages in Ethiopia. When it comes to your housing, you
+
should not lose sight of the guiding goal of the Peace Corps.
+
Maintain your focus on service to the people of Ethiopia and
+
not on the level of your accommodations.
+
  
Housing varies greatly among sites, so Peace Corps sets
+
Amman 11118
minimum housing standards:
+
* There must be a private, lockable room with a private entrance, if housing is shared with other people
+
* The room should have windows
+
* The roof should not leak
+
* There should be a cement floor and a place for a Volunteer to bathe
+
* There should be a latrine that is private or semiprivate with a cemented floor
+
* The Volunteer will use the same water source as his or her community
+
  
Your site assignment is made during PST in collaboration
+
Jordan
with the training staff. Site placements are made using the
+
following criteria (in priority order):
+
  
* Medical and security considerations
+
During pre-service training, mail should be sent to the above address. Mail will be forwarded to the training site regularly.  Do not have packages sent during training, as they will have to be cleared in Amman and you will not have access to the post office during working hours. Once you are at your permanent site, it will be wise to get to know the post office staff and have mail sent directly there. In Jordan, personal relationships are extremely important and can help with red tape.
* Priorities of the Ethiopian government
+
 
* Site requirements matched with technical, crosscultural, and language skills of Volunteers
+
====Telephones====
* Personal preference of the trainee (expressed during interviews with staff)
+
 
 +
Generally, high quality, long-distance communication is available.  However, Volunteers have had little success with calling cards (AT&T, MCI, etc.). It is possible to purchase Jordanian pre-paid international phone cards in various JD (Jordanian dinar) denominations, but these can only be used for public phones. Cellphones from the United States will not work here.  Cellphones can be purchased in Jordan, and many Volunteers purchase them (at their own expense) to keep in touch with family and friends in Jordan and in the United States.
 +
 
 +
====Computer, Internet, and E-mail Access ====
 +
 
 +
While computers are available in most schools and in some host agencies in Jordan, you should not expect your work site to have Internet access or e-mail. Internet cafés are found in all major cities, usually at a cost of JD1 (U.S. $1.40) per hour.  Some Volunteers have laptops. The Peace Corps office has three computers and a printer for Volunteer use during office hours. Volunteers must coordinate their use among themselves.
 +
 
 +
===Housing and Site Location ===
 +
 
 +
After completing pre-service training, you will move to your actual work site for two years of service. Your host agency or school will have helped to identify acceptable housing within the local community. Your living accommodation is intended to be simple and comparable to your Jordanian neighbors. Most buildings in Jordan are concrete and not insulated. Your house/ apartment will likely have one or two rooms, a kitchen, and a bathroom. The Peace Corps will provide a refrigerator, gas space heater, stove (no oven), and a small allowance for the purchase of essential household items. Washing machines, clothes dryers, air conditioners, and central heating are seldom found in either urban or rural areas and will not be featured in Volunteer housing, but you will have indoor plumbing, electricity, and hot water.
 +
 
 +
Volunteer accommodations must meet the Peace Corps’ health, safety, and security standards, yet be modest and typical of the area in which you work and live. You may have an apartment or a free-standing house, some part of which may be occupied by the owner’s family. You will also have the option to live with a host family that can enhance your cross-cultural experience.
 +
 
 +
You are expected to live in the village where you work. This is very important! Some of your Jordanian supervisors and co-workers may commute from the nearest town and be less involved in community life. However, as a Volunteer, you are more than an employee doing a job. You are considered a member of the community in which you work, and there is no better way to demonstrate this than by being visible and involved.
 +
 
 +
Other Volunteers will be within relatively close proximity due to Jordan’s small size and reliable transportation. You may have another Volunteer in the same village, or it may be a few hours by bus to the nearest Volunteer site. The Peace Corps office in Amman is no more than a four- or five-hour drive from the furthest Volunteer site (public buses may take longer).
  
 
===Living Allowance and Money Management===
 
===Living Allowance and Money Management===
  
Each Volunteer receives a monthly allowance sufficient to
+
Once sworn in, Volunteers receive a monthly living allowance in Jordanian dinars. This living allowance covers daily needs such as rent, utilities, food, and toiletries. Depending on lifestyle choices, most Volunteers live comfortably on their monthly living allowance. Volunteers also receive a small leave allowance.  
cover basic costs. The allowance enables Volunteers to live
+
adequately according to the Peace Corps’ philosophy of a
+
modest lifestyle. It is based on the local cost of living and
+
is paid in local currency. Your living allowance is intended
+
to cover food, housing, clothing, transportation from home
+
to worksite, utilities, household supplies, recreation and
+
entertainment, incidental personal expenses, communications,
+
and reading material.
+
  
===Food and Diet===
+
Peace Corps/Jordan establishes a bank account (with an ATM card) for every Volunteer. All allowances are deposited directly into that account. ATM access is exceptionally good throughout Jordan.
  
In most parts of Ethiopia there is a regular, although limited,
+
There should be no need to supplement your living allowance with money from home. In fact, you are discouraged from using personal savings to raise your lifestyle above that of your Jordanian colleagues. Volunteers may, nevertheless, wish to bring along a credit card for emergencies, trips, or special occasions. American Express, Visa, and MasterCard are accepted in many hotels, shops, and restaurants frequented by tourists, especially in the capital and larger towns. In Amman, there are a number of places to change money with little or no commission. ATMs are widely available and will accept most major bankcards. Banks will charge at least a 1.5 percent cashing fee for traveler’s checks and some will only cash them for their customers.  
selection of fresh fruits and vegetables. Butcher shops sell
+
beef and lamb, live chickens can be purchased at market and
+
in areas near lakes, and fresh fish is available. With a little
+
creativity, you can enjoy a varied diet. Fruits and vegetables
+
are seasonal, which means some items may not be available
+
at all times. Vegetarian Volunteers will have little difficulty
+
continuing their diets, as Orthodox Christians “fast” by
+
eating a vegan diet on Wednesdays and Fridays throughout
+
the year. Vegetarianism, however, is not common, so be
+
prepared to explain your habits. Meat is eaten during special
+
occasions and holidays, so it may be prudent to discuss your
+
vegetarianism with host families early to avoid embarrassing
+
or offending them.
+
  
===Transportation===
+
===Food and Diet ===
  
All Volunteers will be expected to travel in Ethiopia using
+
High-quality food is generally available in Jordan. Tea, unleavened flat bread (pita), rice, and yogurt are Jordanian staples and you can find a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables at reasonable prices. In addition, eggs, powdered milk and drink mixes, canned tuna, pasta/noodles, and processed cheese are also on hand. Lamb, chicken, and goat are common; however, due to their relatively high cost, they are not always included in daily diets. In general, meals are rice-based and mildly spiced.  
local transportation (i.e., foot, bicycle, public buses, minivans
+
 
–called “blue donkeys due to the way they drive in
+
Vegetarians will experience minimal problems in ensuring an interesting and wholesome diet. You should be aware, however, that most meals in Jordanian homes are eaten from a common plate, and there will likely be meat on the plate.
tight traffic). Volunteers may not own or operate motorized
+
 
vehicles in Ethiopia. Peace Corps will provide a stipend for
+
Small shops, called doucans, are found everywhere, even in the smallest rural community. The range of goods offered depends on the size of the community and local preferences.  Only very basic foods and household necessities are found in the smallest stores. There are several 24-hour supermarkets in Amman and a few other cities, and mini-markets are universally found in provincial towns.
Volunteers wishing to purchase a bike (with helmet) at site. If
+
 
you purchase a bike, you are required to always wear a helmet
+
Islamic law forbids eating pork and drinking alcohol. Although somewhat tolerant of other people’s beliefs and customs, rural Jordanians are likely to show little respect to Volunteers who are known to drink—especially if it becomes public knowledge through gossip or if the physical effects of overindulgence are apparent. Tea, Arabic coffee, soft drinks, fruit juices, and bottled water are readily available throughout the country.
while riding.
+
 
 +
The holy month of Ramadan follows the Islamic calendar, so its timing changes every year. Ramadan is a time when nothing is consumed during daylight hours (fast is broken at nightfall). Smoking is not permitted during the day.  Volunteers should be respectful of religious requirements and significance during the month of Ramadan. As Ramadan will begin while you are still a trainee, you will experience what that entails during pre-service training.
 +
 
 +
===Transportation ===
 +
 
 +
As a Volunteer in Jordan, you are not permitted to own, rent, or operate any form of motorized vehicle, including motorcycles.
 +
 
 +
Volunteers are also not permitted to be a passenger on a motorcycle. Most Volunteers can catch a small village bus from their home into the nearest city. In these small cities, they can catch a bus to Amman. Although buses are cheap and universal, they can be time-consuming and unpredictable, as they do not run on fixed schedules. Since most village buses stop running at nightfall (4:45 p.m. in the winter), patience and planning are required. Within larger regional centers, private and shared taxis are most frequently used. Travel on buses within Amman is manageable, but at first it will be an adventure as there are neither set schedules nor posted routes.  
  
 
===Geography and Climate===
 
===Geography and Climate===
  
Most of Ethiopia is expected to enjoy a tropical climate due to
+
The geography of Jordan is varied, from the Dead Sea at 1,300 feet below sea level (the lowest place on earth) to mountains reaching 5,700 feet. On the western edge of the country, the Jordan River winds its way through a low valley into the Dead Sea. Mountains rise to the east of this valley, with Amman located on the central highlands. About 80 percent of Jordan is arid, rocky, and receives less than 100 millimeters of rain per year. The temperature varies from 120 degrees Farenheit in the summer to below freezing in the winter. Skies are blue and sunny from March until November, and from November to March when it does rain, it pours.  
its proximity to the equator, but since most of the country’s
+
land mass is above 4,920 feet (1,500 meters), that is not
+
the case. Ethiopia experiences extremely varied climatic
+
conditions from cool to very cold in the highlands which most
+
of the population inhabits, to one of the hottest places on
+
Earth at the Danakil Depression.
+
  
===Social Activities===
+
===Professionalism, Dress, Behavior===
  
The most common form of entertainment is socializing among
+
Jordan is a Muslim country and you will work in rural areas and small towns. Jordanians take great pride in their personal appearance no matter what their economic status. Dress codes are very conservative. To gain the acceptance, respect, and confidence of your co-workers, it is essential that you dress and conduct yourself modestly and professionally. Suits are not required, but clothing should always be neat and clean. It is not appropriate to wear jeans or T-shirts at the workplace or on social occasions. (As you adjust to Jordanian culture and can make more informed decisions about dress, you may find a few social or tourist situations where jeans would be acceptable.) Shorts are never appropriate for male or female Volunteers, regardless of the weather or activity. Halter-tops or tight-fitting apparel worn by women are considered offensive and provocative by Jordanians and must not be worn. Most women in Jordan cover their hair with a scarf, and while Volunteers will not be expected to do so, they may still receive some pressure to cover. Female Volunteers wear loose-fitting clothing that covers wrists and ankles and shirts that reach mid-thigh. Male Volunteers wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts for work. The packing list section at the end of this book goes into more detail regarding appropriate choices. Dressing according to local custom is crucial for successful integration.  
friends and neighbors. Some Volunteers visit other Volunteers
+
on weekends and holidays. The Peace Corps encourages
+
Volunteers to remain at their sites as much as possible to
+
develop relationships with community members, but it also
+
recognizes that they need to make occasional trips to regional
+
centers and to visit friends.
+
  
You will find it easy to make friends in your community and
+
Important! Appropriate clothing can easily be purchased once you’ve arrived. There is no need to pack an entire wardrobe before you see for yourself what the dress codes are really like.  
to participate in weddings, funerals, birthday celebrations,
+
and other social events. It is impossible to overemphasize the
+
rewards of establishing rapport with supervisors, co-workers,
+
and other community members. A sincere effort to learn the
+
local language will greatly facilitate these interactions.
+
chelsea rae harris
+
  
===Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior===
+
The weather can be very hot, so natural fibers will be more comfortable. Winters are cold and sometimes wet with snow falling in some areas. Appropriate warm clothing and layering are necessary, as most buildings and offices are insufficiently heated.
  
Ethiopians regard dress and appearance as an outward sign
+
Jordanians generally do not exercise outdoors, but a few Volunteers have eventually felt comfortable running in their villages with the appropriate attire. Volunteers should consider options for indoor physical activity (jumping rope, yoga, etc.).  
of the respect one holds for another individual. Neatness in
+
appearance is more important than being “stylish.Volunteers
+
should always wear clean and neat clothes. Buttoned shirts for
+
men and blouses and skirts or dresses (to or below the knee)
+
for women are appropriate during business hours. T-shirts are
+
appropriate only for casual, non-business activities. Tank tops,
+
see-through blouses, or low-cut blouses are not appropriate;
+
exposing one’s shoulders is unacceptable. Blue jeans should
+
not be worn during business hours unless the conditions of
+
the job assignment or training activity allow it, and never
+
when visiting government offices. Shorts may be worn only at
+
home, when exercising (if appropriate), or when doing work.
+
Aside from dress, there are other standards of appearance
+
that must be respected. Women should wear appropriate
+
undergarment, including bras and slips. Your hair should be
+
clean and combed. For men, beards should be neatly trimmed.
+
  
The matter of sexual behavior is, of course, a highly personal
+
The Peace Corps expects Volunteers to behave in a manner that fosters respect within your community and reflects well on you as a citizen of the United States and a Volunteer in the Peace Corps. You will receive ample training in appropriate behavior and cultural sensitivity during pre-service training.  
one. However, because of other social implications of such
+
behavior, it is important that Peace Corps standards be clear.
+
Sexual mores in Ethiopia are very conservative and strict,
+
and you are expected to respect them. Public displays of
+
affection between members of the opposite sex, such as
+
kissing, hand holding, or hugging are not generally socially
+
acceptable, though hand holding among men is very common.
+
Homosexuality is illegal in Ethiopia and punishable by
+
imprisonment or deportation. Further information will be
+
provided during your PST on appropriate and inappropriate
+
sexual behavior.
+
  
These restrictions have been formalized in response to
+
As a Volunteer, you have the status of an invited guest, and thus you should be sensitive to the habits, tastes, and taboos of your hosts. Public drinking or even references to alcohol are offensive and can be damaging to a Volunteer’s reputation and, hence, effectiveness. Also, there are strong taboos regarding intimate relationships, and extreme discretion must be exercised. Unmarried Muslim women engaging in sexual relations may be subject to severe family retribution and even death. It is forbidden for unmarried males and females to be alone together. This applies to Volunteers as well, so it is inappropriate for males and females to visit each other at their sites. You must constantly monitor your personal behavior and understand the consequences of your actions.  
specific instances of inappropriate dress and behavior by
+
Volunteers. In general, the above guidance is meant to convey
+
to Volunteers that adherence to professional standards is
+
appropriate at all times and in all places. When in doubt, look
+
to your Ethiopian counterparts for guidance. If the country
+
director determines that willful disregard of cultural standards
+
is jeopardizing your credibility or that of the program, you
+
may be administratively separated from the Peace Corps.
+
  
===Personal Safety===
+
Long hair on men is not culturally acceptable and male trainees should arrive at staging with short, undyed hair.
  
More detailed information about the Peace Corps’ approach
+
Body piercing is unacceptable and tattooes must be covered at all times. Pierced ears for women are acceptable.
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 Ethiopia 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 Ethiopia. At the same time, you are expected to take
+
responsibility for your safety and well-being.
+
  
Each staff member at the Peace Corps is committed
+
===Social Activities===
to providing Volunteers with the support they need to
+
successfully meet the challenges they will face to have a safe,
+
healthy, and productive service. We encourage Volunteers and
+
families to look at our safety and security information on the
+
Peace Corps website at www.peacecorps.gov/safety.
+
Information on these pages gives messages on Volunteer
+
health and Volunteer safety. A video message from the
+
Director is on this page, as well as a section titled “Safety and
+
Security in Depth.” This page lists topics ranging from the
+
risks of serving as a Volunteer to posts’ safety support systems
+
to emergency planning and communications.
+
  
===Rewards and Frustrations===
+
Volunteers find the hospitality and generosity of Jordanians to be a wonderful part of the culture, and visiting and tea drinking will likely become a daily routine for you. Social activities will vary depending on where you are located as well as your gender and marital status. Many Volunteers attend weddings, parties, and picnics with Jordanians and often visit neighbors’ and colleagues’ homes for lunch or tea. Most social activities revolve around food and family, and there can be pressure to eat a lot. During Ramadan, Volunteers often fast and are invited to share iftar (a feast of traditional Jordanian dishes) with neighbors and friends at sunset.
  
Before accepting this assignment, you should give ample
+
There is strict separation between genders in Jordan. For example, men and women, although celebrating the same occasion, will do so in separate areas. Male Volunteers should not expect to socialize with female Volunteers after training at either’s site. This standard is applied even to visiting friends and family members of the opposite sex.  
thought to some of the potential obstacles you will face. Until
+
 
your adjustment to Ethiopia is complete, you will undoubtedly
+
===Personal Safety===
feel out of place speaking a new language and trying to
+
practice customs that may seem strange to you. No matter
+
what your ethnic, religious, or racial background is, you may
+
stick out as someone from outside the Ethiopian culture.
+
However, many situations can be overcome with a sense of
+
humor and an open mind.
+
  
Your work situation may also present many difficulties and
+
More information about the Peace Corps’ approach to safety is detailed in the Health Care and Safety section, but this is such an important issue that it 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, having limited understanding of local language and culture, and being perceived as wealthy are some of the factors that can put a Volunteer at risk. Many Volunteers experience varying degrees of unwanted attention and harassment. The Peace Corps has established procedures and policies to help Volunteers reduce these risks and enhance their safety and security. That said, you are expected to take primary responsibility for your safety and well-being.  
frustrations. Most of your work will be to educate, motivate,
+
and organize community groups, an often slow task. You will
+
find yourself in situations that require an ability to motivate
+
yourself and your colleagues and take action with little
+
guidance from your colleagues and counterparts. You must
+
possess the self-confidence, patience, and vision to continue
+
working toward long-term goals without seeing immediate
+
results or feedback. Co-workers, severely underpaid and
+
burdened with extended family commitments, will have a
+
much different outlook on life than your own, and rainy and
+
agricultural seasons will delay many project activities. As each
+
Volunteer’s job description will be uniquely dependent upon
+
the expressed needs of the community and the skills that you
+
bring, you will be constantly defining and redefining your role
+
as you attempt to meet the needs of your community. This
+
is both a gift and a challenge. A gift in that you are free to
+
work in areas where you are needed most, and a challenge in
+
that you must invent and reinvent yourself in an oftentimes
+
unstructured work environment. Defining your role and
+
finding your “niche” within your community will be one of
+
your greatest challenges, but one that can be achieved with
+
time, personal drive, resourcefulness, and a flexible and
+
patient mind.
+
  
Peace Corps service is not for everyone. More than a job, it
+
===Rewards and Frustrations ===
requires greater dedication and commitment to serve than
+
do most other work environments. It is for confident, selfstarting,
+
and concerned individuals who are interested in
+
assisting in other countries and increasing understanding
+
across cultures. If you have the personal qualities needed to
+
accept the challenges described above and can demonstrate
+
them for a two-year service commitment in Ethiopia, you will
+
have a rewarding, enriching, and lasting experience, while
+
at the same time making a much-needed contribution to the
+
development of Ethiopia.
+
  
Even with the many economic, social, political, and
+
Although the potential for job satisfaction is quite high, like all Volunteers, you will encounter numerous frustrations. Due to financial or other challenges, collaborating agencies do not always provide the support promised. The pace of work and life is much slower than what most Americans consider normal. For these reasons, your Peace Corps experience will be a journey of emotional peaks and valleys as you adapt to the new culture and environment.  
environmental challenges facing Ethiopia today, there is an
+
atmosphere of excitement and hope. The changes occurring
+
are some of the most important in the country’s modern
+
history. To join the people of Ethiopia in this effort, and to
+
be part of this historical and defining moment, will be both
+
fascinating and satisfying to Volunteers willing to work hard,
+
be tolerant, and give generously of their time.
+
The HIV epidemic strikes across all social strata in Ethiopia.
+
You will probably be working regularly with people living with
+
HIV/AIDS. Volunteers need to prepare themselves to embrace
+
these relationships in a sensitive and positive manner. It is
+
important to be aware of the high emotional toll this disease
+
can have on Volunteers and take care to maintain your own
+
emotional strength so you can continue to serve
+
your community.
+
  
 +
You may be given a high degree of responsibility and independence in your work, perhaps more than in any other job you have had or will ever experience. Often you will find yourself in situations that require an ability to motivate yourself and your counterparts with little guidance from supervisors. You may work for months without seeing any visible impact or without receiving feedback on your work.  Development is a slow process! Positive progress is often seen only after the combined efforts of several generations of Volunteers. You must possess the self-confidence, patience, and vision to continue working toward long-term goals without the validation of immediate results.
  
 +
Though you will not be making as many environmental adjustments in Jordan as you might in other Peace Corps countries, you must be aware of and accept the significant cultural adjustments you will have to make (not drinking alcohol, gender expectations, loss of privacy). Be open to these changes and take time to consider them before leaving the U.S. Jordan is a beautiful country with generous people.  The adjustments may be difficult at times, but it will be worth it to become a full participant in your community.
  
 +
To approach and overcome these challenges, you will need maturity, flexibility, and resourcefulness. You must make a commitment to integrate into your community, withhold judgment, and work hard, if you expect to be a success.  Peace Corps staff, your co-workers, and fellow Volunteers will support you during times of challenge as well as in moments of success. Judging by the experience of former Volunteers, the highs are well worth the lows and most depart feeling that they have gained as much as or more than they gave.
  
See also: [[Ethiopia]]
+
[[Category:Jordan]]

Latest revision as of 12:32, 8 December 2015

Country Resources

Communications[edit]

Mail[edit]

Few countries in the world offer the level of mail service we take for granted in the United States. Though the Jordanian mail service is generally reliable, some mail may simply not arrive (fortunately this is not a frequent occurrence, but it does happen). Advise family and friends to send all letters via air mail. Mail can sometimes take as long as two to four weeks between U.S. and Jordan in either direction.

If possible, write your family on a regular basis and number your letters. Experience has shown that when a month or two goes by without news from the Volunteer, friends and loved ones become very concerned. Please advise parents, friends, and relatives that mail may be sporadic and that they should not worry if they do not receive your letters regularly.

Packages can be sent via international mail through the U.S. postal system. All packages addressed to you are subject to customs. Hints: Used items are usually delivered customs-free, while new items are taxed at full value. Smaller packages (particularly those in padded envelopes) seem to make it through with relative ease.

Important: Never have anyone send cash through the mail. Such letters seldom arrive. Packages are inspected by custom officers.

Your address during pre-service training will be:

“Your Name,” PCT

c/o Peace Corps/Jordan

P.O. Box 6338

Amman 11118

Jordan

During pre-service training, mail should be sent to the above address. Mail will be forwarded to the training site regularly. Do not have packages sent during training, as they will have to be cleared in Amman and you will not have access to the post office during working hours. Once you are at your permanent site, it will be wise to get to know the post office staff and have mail sent directly there. In Jordan, personal relationships are extremely important and can help with red tape.

Telephones[edit]

Generally, high quality, long-distance communication is available. However, Volunteers have had little success with calling cards (AT&T, MCI, etc.). It is possible to purchase Jordanian pre-paid international phone cards in various JD (Jordanian dinar) denominations, but these can only be used for public phones. Cellphones from the United States will not work here. Cellphones can be purchased in Jordan, and many Volunteers purchase them (at their own expense) to keep in touch with family and friends in Jordan and in the United States.

Computer, Internet, and E-mail Access[edit]

While computers are available in most schools and in some host agencies in Jordan, you should not expect your work site to have Internet access or e-mail. Internet cafés are found in all major cities, usually at a cost of JD1 (U.S. $1.40) per hour. Some Volunteers have laptops. The Peace Corps office has three computers and a printer for Volunteer use during office hours. Volunteers must coordinate their use among themselves.

Housing and Site Location[edit]

After completing pre-service training, you will move to your actual work site for two years of service. Your host agency or school will have helped to identify acceptable housing within the local community. Your living accommodation is intended to be simple and comparable to your Jordanian neighbors. Most buildings in Jordan are concrete and not insulated. Your house/ apartment will likely have one or two rooms, a kitchen, and a bathroom. The Peace Corps will provide a refrigerator, gas space heater, stove (no oven), and a small allowance for the purchase of essential household items. Washing machines, clothes dryers, air conditioners, and central heating are seldom found in either urban or rural areas and will not be featured in Volunteer housing, but you will have indoor plumbing, electricity, and hot water.

Volunteer accommodations must meet the Peace Corps’ health, safety, and security standards, yet be modest and typical of the area in which you work and live. You may have an apartment or a free-standing house, some part of which may be occupied by the owner’s family. You will also have the option to live with a host family that can enhance your cross-cultural experience.

You are expected to live in the village where you work. This is very important! Some of your Jordanian supervisors and co-workers may commute from the nearest town and be less involved in community life. However, as a Volunteer, you are more than an employee doing a job. You are considered a member of the community in which you work, and there is no better way to demonstrate this than by being visible and involved.

Other Volunteers will be within relatively close proximity due to Jordan’s small size and reliable transportation. You may have another Volunteer in the same village, or it may be a few hours by bus to the nearest Volunteer site. The Peace Corps office in Amman is no more than a four- or five-hour drive from the furthest Volunteer site (public buses may take longer).

Living Allowance and Money Management[edit]

Once sworn in, Volunteers receive a monthly living allowance in Jordanian dinars. This living allowance covers daily needs such as rent, utilities, food, and toiletries. Depending on lifestyle choices, most Volunteers live comfortably on their monthly living allowance. Volunteers also receive a small leave allowance.

Peace Corps/Jordan establishes a bank account (with an ATM card) for every Volunteer. All allowances are deposited directly into that account. ATM access is exceptionally good throughout Jordan.

There should be no need to supplement your living allowance with money from home. In fact, you are discouraged from using personal savings to raise your lifestyle above that of your Jordanian colleagues. Volunteers may, nevertheless, wish to bring along a credit card for emergencies, trips, or special occasions. American Express, Visa, and MasterCard are accepted in many hotels, shops, and restaurants frequented by tourists, especially in the capital and larger towns. In Amman, there are a number of places to change money with little or no commission. ATMs are widely available and will accept most major bankcards. Banks will charge at least a 1.5 percent cashing fee for traveler’s checks and some will only cash them for their customers.

Food and Diet[edit]

High-quality food is generally available in Jordan. Tea, unleavened flat bread (pita), rice, and yogurt are Jordanian staples and you can find a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables at reasonable prices. In addition, eggs, powdered milk and drink mixes, canned tuna, pasta/noodles, and processed cheese are also on hand. Lamb, chicken, and goat are common; however, due to their relatively high cost, they are not always included in daily diets. In general, meals are rice-based and mildly spiced.

Vegetarians will experience minimal problems in ensuring an interesting and wholesome diet. You should be aware, however, that most meals in Jordanian homes are eaten from a common plate, and there will likely be meat on the plate.

Small shops, called doucans, are found everywhere, even in the smallest rural community. The range of goods offered depends on the size of the community and local preferences. Only very basic foods and household necessities are found in the smallest stores. There are several 24-hour supermarkets in Amman and a few other cities, and mini-markets are universally found in provincial towns.

Islamic law forbids eating pork and drinking alcohol. Although somewhat tolerant of other people’s beliefs and customs, rural Jordanians are likely to show little respect to Volunteers who are known to drink—especially if it becomes public knowledge through gossip or if the physical effects of overindulgence are apparent. Tea, Arabic coffee, soft drinks, fruit juices, and bottled water are readily available throughout the country.

The holy month of Ramadan follows the Islamic calendar, so its timing changes every year. Ramadan is a time when nothing is consumed during daylight hours (fast is broken at nightfall). Smoking is not permitted during the day. Volunteers should be respectful of religious requirements and significance during the month of Ramadan. As Ramadan will begin while you are still a trainee, you will experience what that entails during pre-service training.

Transportation[edit]

As a Volunteer in Jordan, you are not permitted to own, rent, or operate any form of motorized vehicle, including motorcycles.

Volunteers are also not permitted to be a passenger on a motorcycle. Most Volunteers can catch a small village bus from their home into the nearest city. In these small cities, they can catch a bus to Amman. Although buses are cheap and universal, they can be time-consuming and unpredictable, as they do not run on fixed schedules. Since most village buses stop running at nightfall (4:45 p.m. in the winter), patience and planning are required. Within larger regional centers, private and shared taxis are most frequently used. Travel on buses within Amman is manageable, but at first it will be an adventure as there are neither set schedules nor posted routes.

Geography and Climate[edit]

The geography of Jordan is varied, from the Dead Sea at 1,300 feet below sea level (the lowest place on earth) to mountains reaching 5,700 feet. On the western edge of the country, the Jordan River winds its way through a low valley into the Dead Sea. Mountains rise to the east of this valley, with Amman located on the central highlands. About 80 percent of Jordan is arid, rocky, and receives less than 100 millimeters of rain per year. The temperature varies from 120 degrees Farenheit in the summer to below freezing in the winter. Skies are blue and sunny from March until November, and from November to March when it does rain, it pours.

Professionalism, Dress, Behavior[edit]

Jordan is a Muslim country and you will work in rural areas and small towns. Jordanians take great pride in their personal appearance no matter what their economic status. Dress codes are very conservative. To gain the acceptance, respect, and confidence of your co-workers, it is essential that you dress and conduct yourself modestly and professionally. Suits are not required, but clothing should always be neat and clean. It is not appropriate to wear jeans or T-shirts at the workplace or on social occasions. (As you adjust to Jordanian culture and can make more informed decisions about dress, you may find a few social or tourist situations where jeans would be acceptable.) Shorts are never appropriate for male or female Volunteers, regardless of the weather or activity. Halter-tops or tight-fitting apparel worn by women are considered offensive and provocative by Jordanians and must not be worn. Most women in Jordan cover their hair with a scarf, and while Volunteers will not be expected to do so, they may still receive some pressure to cover. Female Volunteers wear loose-fitting clothing that covers wrists and ankles and shirts that reach mid-thigh. Male Volunteers wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts for work. The packing list section at the end of this book goes into more detail regarding appropriate choices. Dressing according to local custom is crucial for successful integration.

Important! Appropriate clothing can easily be purchased once you’ve arrived. There is no need to pack an entire wardrobe before you see for yourself what the dress codes are really like.

The weather can be very hot, so natural fibers will be more comfortable. Winters are cold and sometimes wet with snow falling in some areas. Appropriate warm clothing and layering are necessary, as most buildings and offices are insufficiently heated.

Jordanians generally do not exercise outdoors, but a few Volunteers have eventually felt comfortable running in their villages with the appropriate attire. Volunteers should consider options for indoor physical activity (jumping rope, yoga, etc.).

The Peace Corps expects Volunteers to behave in a manner that fosters respect within your community and reflects well on you as a citizen of the United States and a Volunteer in the Peace Corps. You will receive ample training in appropriate behavior and cultural sensitivity during pre-service training.

As a Volunteer, you have the status of an invited guest, and thus you should be sensitive to the habits, tastes, and taboos of your hosts. Public drinking or even references to alcohol are offensive and can be damaging to a Volunteer’s reputation and, hence, effectiveness. Also, there are strong taboos regarding intimate relationships, and extreme discretion must be exercised. Unmarried Muslim women engaging in sexual relations may be subject to severe family retribution and even death. It is forbidden for unmarried males and females to be alone together. This applies to Volunteers as well, so it is inappropriate for males and females to visit each other at their sites. You must constantly monitor your personal behavior and understand the consequences of your actions.

Long hair on men is not culturally acceptable and male trainees should arrive at staging with short, undyed hair.

Body piercing is unacceptable and tattooes must be covered at all times. Pierced ears for women are acceptable.

Social Activities[edit]

Volunteers find the hospitality and generosity of Jordanians to be a wonderful part of the culture, and visiting and tea drinking will likely become a daily routine for you. Social activities will vary depending on where you are located as well as your gender and marital status. Many Volunteers attend weddings, parties, and picnics with Jordanians and often visit neighbors’ and colleagues’ homes for lunch or tea. Most social activities revolve around food and family, and there can be pressure to eat a lot. During Ramadan, Volunteers often fast and are invited to share iftar (a feast of traditional Jordanian dishes) with neighbors and friends at sunset.

There is strict separation between genders in Jordan. For example, men and women, although celebrating the same occasion, will do so in separate areas. Male Volunteers should not expect to socialize with female Volunteers after training at either’s site. This standard is applied even to visiting friends and family members of the opposite sex.

Personal Safety[edit]

More information about the Peace Corps’ approach to safety is detailed in the Health Care and Safety section, but this is such an important issue that it 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, having limited understanding of local language and culture, and being perceived as wealthy are some of the factors that can put a Volunteer at risk. Many Volunteers experience varying degrees of unwanted attention and harassment. The Peace Corps has established procedures and policies to help Volunteers reduce these risks and enhance their safety and security. That said, you are expected to take primary responsibility for your safety and well-being.

Rewards and Frustrations[edit]

Although the potential for job satisfaction is quite high, like all Volunteers, you will encounter numerous frustrations. Due to financial or other challenges, collaborating agencies do not always provide the support promised. The pace of work and life is much slower than what most Americans consider normal. For these reasons, your Peace Corps experience will be a journey of emotional peaks and valleys as you adapt to the new culture and environment.

You may be given a high degree of responsibility and independence in your work, perhaps more than in any other job you have had or will ever experience. Often you will find yourself in situations that require an ability to motivate yourself and your counterparts with little guidance from supervisors. You may work for months without seeing any visible impact or without receiving feedback on your work. Development is a slow process! Positive progress is often seen only after the combined efforts of several generations of Volunteers. You must possess the self-confidence, patience, and vision to continue working toward long-term goals without the validation of immediate results.

Though you will not be making as many environmental adjustments in Jordan as you might in other Peace Corps countries, you must be aware of and accept the significant cultural adjustments you will have to make (not drinking alcohol, gender expectations, loss of privacy). Be open to these changes and take time to consider them before leaving the U.S. Jordan is a beautiful country with generous people. The adjustments may be difficult at times, but it will be worth it to become a full participant in your community.

To approach and overcome these challenges, you will need maturity, flexibility, and resourcefulness. You must make a commitment to integrate into your community, withhold judgment, and work hard, if you expect to be a success. Peace Corps staff, your co-workers, and fellow Volunteers will support you during times of challenge as well as in moments of success. Judging by the experience of former Volunteers, the highs are well worth the lows and most depart feeling that they have gained as much as or more than they gave.