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

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==Communication==
 
===Mail ===
 
  
Few countries in the world offer the level of mail service considered normal in the United States. If you expect U.S.  standards for mail service, you will be in for some frustration.  Mail takes a minimum of two weeks to arrive in Ukraine.
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===Communications===
  
During training, mail for trainees received at the Peace Corps office in Kyiv will be forwarded to the training site once or twice each week. Once you become a Volunteer and move to your permanent site, you will receive mail there, either at a post office box or at your office. Peace Corps/Ukraine uses the Ukrainian postal network to mail routine, nonurgent items, including a weekly packet sent to each Volunteer.
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====Mail====
  
Family and friends should not send you valuable items through the mail, as packages sometimes arrive opened, with items missing, or do not arrive at all. We recommend the use of padded envelopes instead of boxes, as they usually arrive unopened. Airmail is more reliable, but more expensive, than surface mail.  
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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.  
  
A number of international mail services operate in Ukraine, including UPS and DHL. Volunteers report that the most reliable and inexpensive service is MEEST, whose address in the United States is 609 Commerce Road, Linden, NJ 07036 (phone: 908.474.1100; website: www.meest.net).  
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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.  
  
Your address during training will be:  
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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.
  
“Your Name”, PCT <br>
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Important: Never have anyone send cash through the mail. Such letters seldom arrive. Packages are inspected by custom officers.
c/o Peace Corps/Ukraine  <br>
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PO Box 298  <br>
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01030  <br>
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Kyiv, Ukraine  <br>
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===Telephones ===
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Your address during pre-service training will be:
  
Telecommunications in Ukraine lags far behind that in the United States. Phone lines are often busy, and connections can be poor. Many Ukrainians in small towns and villages do not have their own land lines, and it is possible that you will not have one. Not all cities have the capability to process calling card calls, and many Ukrainians, including Volunteers’ host families, may be unaware of how such calls are billed. Although most host families during training will have phones, you may not be able to make long-distance calls.  Calls, however, can be made from the town post office for a per-minute charge. It is best to inform family members and friends that you’ll need a few days to become acquainted with the telephone system before getting in touch with them. The Peace Corps will ensure that you have access to a phone once you are at your permanent site, through either your place of employment or a neighbor.
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“Your Name,” PCT
  
More and more Ukrainians use cellular phones. The Peace Corps staff uses cellphones to supplement land lines and ensure better contact with Volunteers. Peace Corps/Ukraine discourages you from bringing a cellphone because even though a few cellular companies operate in Ukraine, it is highly unlikely that a cellular plan in the United States will cover Ukraine and the surrounding region. It is much cheaper to buy a cellphone here in Ukraine (around $100) and then give the number to your family/friends to call you.  All incoming calls are free of charge. About 90 percent of Volunteers in-country have cellphones.
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c/o Peace Corps/Jordan
  
===Computer, Internet, and E-mail Access ===
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P.O. Box 6338
  
While Peace Corps/Ukraine makes no recommendation regarding whether to bring a personal computer, it could be useful during your service. Computers (as well as printers, paper, and peripheral devices) may not be generally available at your workplace, and many Volunteers find that having their own is helpful. Although some Volunteers have bought laptops in Ukraine, the selection is limited and generally more expensive than in the U.S. If you decide to bring a computer (and perhaps a small printer), make sure you bring the necessary power converter, surge protection, and plug adapter. (Note that the small, inexpensive converters made for things like alarm clocks are not suitable, and are even dangerous, for computer equipment.) The Peace Corps encourages you to insure your computer against theft.
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Amman 11118
  
While almost all Volunteers in Ukraine have e-mail addresses, many of them have only limited access to e-mail via an Internet cafe at their site or in a nearby city. In all cases, Volunteers should be prepared for poor phone lines that result in slow connection speeds and unpredictable interruptions.
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Jordan
  
==Housing and Site Location ==
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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.
  
Although you will find a Western-looking environment in Ukraine, living conditions are not the same as in the United States, and you will have to make some adjustments in your lifestyle. Volunteers in Ukraine live in a wide range of sites, from large, European-style cities (up to 20 percent of the Volunteer population) to small towns or villages with few modern amenities (up to 80 percent of the Volunteer population).  Generally, housing is in short supply; space is at a premium and accommodations will be cramped.
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====Telephones====
  
For your first three months as a trainee, you will live with a host family. This homestay is a part of pre-service training and will help you to learn about the Ukrainian culture, improve your language skills, and enhance your safety.  
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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.
  
After swearing-in, you will move to your permanent site.  You may stay with a host family, roommate, or you may immediately move into an independent living arrangement in a house, apartment, or dormitory.  Your situation will depend on what your hosting organization (school or non-profit) has found for you.  Formerly, volunteers in Ukraine stayed up to 3 months with a second host family after moving to site.  This is no longer the case, however.
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====Computer, Internet, and E-mail Access ====
  
If you choose to move to an apartment or dormitory at that time, you will be provided with most of the furnishings you need, along with a settling-in allowance for additional necessary items. If what you need is not immediately available, your regional manager will work with you and your Ukrainian coordinator to ensure that you can obtain any necessities.  
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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.  
  
Note that many towns have to ration water and electricity, and hot water may not be available where you live. Ukrainians usually keep buckets of water and candles at the ready. Heat in towns and cities is centrally controlled and is turned on and off according to finances and the calendar, not the weather.  Volunteers are issued space heaters when they move to their sites. There are some communities where Volunteers are expected to heat their houses using a wood or coal-burning stove.
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===Housing and Site Location ===
  
==Living Allowance and Money Management ==
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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.
  
As a Volunteer in Ukraine, you will receive three types of allowances. The first, a monthly living allowance, is intended to cover your basic living expenses; that is, food, household supplies, clothing, official travel, recreation and entertainment, transportation, reading material, and other incidentals. This allowance is reviewed at least once a year through a market survey to ensure that it is adequate. At the time of this writing, the living allowance is roughly equivalent to $200, which is transferred directly into each Volunteer’s local bank account at the beginning of each month. You will probably find that you receive more remuneration than your Ukrainian coordinator or supervisor.  
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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.  
  
The second allowance, a vacation allowance of $24 per month, is added to your living allowance and paid in U.S. dollars. Finally, when you move into your apartment or house following your three-month homestay at site, you will receive a one-time settling-in allowance, paid in local currency, to buy basic household items.  
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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.  
  
Although most Volunteers find they can live comfortably in Ukraine with these allowances, some bring money from home for out-of-country travel. The Peace Corps strongly discourages you from supplementing your income with money brought from home while you are in Ukraine. The living allowance is adequate and Volunteers are expected to live at the same economic level as their neighbors and colleagues.  
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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).  
  
Traveler’s checks are virtually unknown in Ukraine, although ATM machines are becoming widespread and are generally safe as long as common sense is used (e.g., avoid using it in crowded areas).  Credit cards are becoming more common in cities and large towns. If you bring cash, be advised that bills that have writing on them may not be accepted and older bills will be hard to exchange for local currency outside of Kyiv.
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===Living Allowance and Money Management===
  
==Food and Diet ==
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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.
  
Your host families will provide you with most meals, so you will have plenty of opportunities to become familiar with eating (and cooking) Ukrainian food. As in many countries, the availability of certain foods is dependent on the season, with a wider range of vegetables and fruits available in the spring and summer. Many Volunteers enjoy learning how to preserve and can food for the winter, as many Ukrainians do.  The Ukrainian diet relies heavily on meat, potatoes, beets, onions, and cabbages in the winter.  
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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.  
  
The traditional diet can be high in fat and cholesterol. Vegetarians may find it challenging to maintain their usual diet because of the lack of fruits and vegetables at certain times of the year. Although your host families may be able to cook vegetarian foods for you, a soup described as “vegetarian” may be made with a meat-based stock. Still, there are many types of Ukrainian salads, consisting of cabbage, beets, carrots, and other seasonal and year-round vegetables. In addition, an increasing number of soy products are being imported from Poland.  
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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.  
  
==Transportation ==
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===Food and Diet ===
  
Most cities in Ukraine have a comprehensive public transportation system of buses and trolleys. Some cities have trams, and Kyiv and Kharkov have subways. In addition to official and unofficial taxi services, most cities have direct-route taxis that look like vans (known as Marshrutkas). In cities and towns without public transportation, people get around on foot.  
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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.  
  
An extensive train network connects cities throughout Ukraine, with buses operating between shorter distances.  
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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.  
  
Many of the trains are overnight trains, so Volunteers can leave their site at night and arrive at their destination in the morning. An alternative that is gaining popularity is a luxury bus network, which also provides overnight service to many cities.
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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.  
  
==Geography and Climate ==
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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.
  
Ukraine has a continental climate, with the exception of the southern coast of Crimea, which is in a subtropical zone. Although many people imagine Ukraine as a country of snow and ice, it has four distinct seasons, with summer temperatures averaging in the 70s and 80s.  
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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.  
  
Winters in Ukraine are long and cold, and as a result of its northern latitude, daylight in the winter is limited. Some Volunteers with a history of seasonal affective disorder or depression have found the limited exposure to sunlight an added challenge of service in Ukraine.
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===Transportation ===
  
==Social Activities ==
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As a Volunteer in Jordan, you are not permitted to own, rent, or operate any form of motorized vehicle, including motorcycles.
  
The life of a Volunteer is filled with learning and networking 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Having a cup of tea with a Ukrainian neighbor is as much a part of the Volunteer experience as is teaching a class or seminar. Social activities will vary depending on where you live and might include taking part in local festivals, parties, and dances. In addition, although the Peace Corps encourages Volunteers to remain at their sites as an essential strategy for integrating into their communities, some Volunteers occasionally visit nearby Volunteers on weekends. Most towns and cities have cafes and restaurants for evenings out, and many Volunteers have televisions and VCRs in their apartments.  
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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.  
  
==Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior ==
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===Geography and Climate===
  
Ukrainians pay a lot of attention to their appearance, and they will judge your professionalism based on what you wear. Ukrainians in general, but women especially, dress more formally than do Americans on most occasions. The Peace Corps expects you to behave in a way that will foster respect toward you in your community and reflect well on the Peace Corps and on the United States. You will receive an orientation to appropriate behavior and cultural sensitivity during pre-service training. As a Volunteer, you have the status of an invited guest and thus must be sensitive to the habits, tastes, and taboos of your Ukrainian hosts. You need to be aware that behavior that jeopardizes the Peace Corps’ mission in Ukraine or your personal safety cannot be tolerated and could lead to administrative separation, a decision by the Peace Corps to terminate your service.  
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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.  
  
==Personal Safety ==
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===Professionalism, Dress, Behavior===
  
More 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 Ukraine 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. You will learn about these procedures and policies during safety training in Ukraine. At the same time, you are expected to take responsibility for your safety and well-being.  
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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.  
  
==Rewards and Frustrations ==
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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.
  
It may take time for your Ukrainian counterparts to understand your role as a Volunteer and for you to determine your appropriate responsibilities. You may not be stepping into a well-defined situation. You will need to remember that you are part of a long-term development project. A challenge throughout your assignment will be helping your counterparts develop their capacity to continue to perform similar work after your departure.  
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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.  
  
You will be frustrated at times by not being able to communicate easily in the local language, even after the preparation provided during pre-service training. While your coordinator may have a fairly strong command of English, most of your colleagues will not. Learning Ukrainian or Russian, will make a major difference in your work, in your ability to adapt to living in Ukraine, and in your appreciation of Ukrainian society and culture.  
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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.).  
  
Attitudes about racial differences and public expression of racism are generally different in Ukraine from those typically found in the United States. Incidents involving disrespect for and harassment against minority Volunteers occur and it is important for people to consider this fact and how this might affect them.  
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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.  
  
To have a successful experience as a Volunteer, you must be motivated, flexible, and willing to work hard. You will need to take the initiative to identify local resources and institutions with which you can cooperate. To be effective in your work, you might need to “unlearn” practices and principles that you have developed on the basis of prior experiences. Despite these challenges—or perhaps because of them—Volunteers in Ukraine find satisfaction in demonstrating to their colleagues that every individual can make a difference in the creation of a civil society. As it has in the past, Ukraine is poised to play a pivotal role in the future of Europe and the world. Volunteers have a unique opportunity to impact the nature of that role.  
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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.  
  
[[Category:Ukraine]]
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Long hair on men is not culturally acceptable and male trainees should arrive at staging with short, undyed hair.
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Body piercing is unacceptable and tattooes must be covered at all times. Pierced ears for women are acceptable.
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===Social Activities===
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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.
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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.
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===Personal Safety===
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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.
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===Rewards and Frustrations ===
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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[[Category:Jordan]]

Revision as of 09:37, 8 December 2015

Country Resources


Communications

Mail

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.