Difference between pages "Honduras" and "Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Guatemala"

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{{CountryboxAlternative
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{{Diversity_and_cross-cultural_issues_by_country}}
|Countryname = Honduras
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In fulfilling the Peace Corps’ mandate to share the face of America with our host countries, we are making special efforts to see that all of America’s richness is reflected in the Volunteer corps. More Americans of color are serving in today’s Peace Corps than at any time in recent years. Differences in race, ethnic background, age, religion, and sexual orientation are expected and welcomed among our Volunteers. Part of the Peace Corps’ mission is to help dispel any notion that Americans are all of one origin or race, and to establish that each of us is as thoroughly American as the other, despite our many differences. Our diversity helps us accomplish that goal.
|CountryCode = ho
+
|status = [[ACTIVE]]
+
|Map = Ho-map.gif
+
|Welcomebooklink = http://www.peacecorps.gov/welcomebooks/hnwb522.pdf
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|Region = [[Central America and Mexico]]
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|CountryDirector = [[Trudy Jaycox]]
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|Sectors = [[Protected Areas Management]]<br> ([[APCD]]: [[Menelio Bardales]])<br> [[Business Development]] <br>([[APCD]]: [[Edel Perez-Campos]])<br> [[Municipal Development]] <br>([[APCD]]: [[Alejandrina Carrasco]]) <br> [[Health]] <br>([[APCD]]: [[Helmuth Castro]])<br> [[Water Sanitation and Health]] <br>([[APCD]]: [[Martin Rivera]])<br> [[Youth Development]] <br>([[APCD]]: [[Sandra Gomez]])
+
|ProgramDates = [[1963]] - [[Present]]
+
|CurrentlyServing = 194
+
|TotalVolunteers = 5375
+
|Languages = [[Mi`skito]], [[Spanish]]
+
|Flag = Honduras.GIF
+
|stagingdate= February 23 2011
+
|stagingcity= Atlanta
+
}}
+
  
 +
In other ways, however, our diversity poses challenges.  In Guatemala, as in other Peace Corps host countries, Volunteers’ behavior, lifestyles, background, and beliefs will be judged in a cultural context very different from our own.  Certain personal perspectives or characteristics considered familiar and commonly accepted in the United States may be quite uncommon, unacceptable, or even repressed.
  
Honduras offers natural scenic beauty and variety as well as a favorable climate in a semitropical setting. The Peace Corps has enjoyed a long and proud history in Honduras. More than 5,000 Volunteers have served as since the inception of the program in 1963.
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Outside of Guatemala’s capital, residents of rural communities have had relatively little direct exposure to other cultures, races, religions, and lifestyles. What is advertised as “typical” cultural behavior or norms may also be a narrow and selective interpretation, such as the perception in some countries that all Americans are rich and have blond hair and blue eyes.  The people of Guatemala are justly known for their generous hospitality to foreigners; however, members of the community in which you will live may display a range of reactions to differences that you present. We will ask you to be supportive of one another.
  
Peace Corps/Honduras works in the areas of HIV/AIDS prevention and child survival, business, protected area management, water and sanitation, municipal development, and youth development. Volunteers in these six projects work in an integrated community development framework, meeting the expressed needs of the communities where they serve.  
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In order to ease the transition and adapt to life in Guatemala, you may need to make some temporary, yet fundamental compromises with who you are as an American and as an individual. For example, female trainees and Volunteers may not be able to exercise the independence available to them in the United States; political discussions will need to be handled with great care; and some of your personal beliefs may best remain undisclosed. You will need to develop techniques and personal strategies for coping with these and other limits.  Peace Corps staff will lead diversity and sensitivity discussions during your pre-service training and will be on call to provide support, but the challenge ultimately will be your own.  
  
* [http://www.grosir-kosmetik.com/63-been-pink-beauty-series.html Been pink]
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===Overview of Diversity in Guatemala ===
* [http://www.tokobungasabana.com Toko bunga jakarta]
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* [http://www.tokobungasabana.com Toko bunga online]
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* [http://www.awanirentcar.com/pricelist Sewa mobil jakarta]
+
  
==Peace Corps History==
+
Peace Corps staff in Guatemala recognizes the adjustment issues that come with diversity and will endeavor to provide support and guidance. During pre-service training, several sessions will be held to discuss diversity and coping mechanisms. We look forward to having male and female Volunteers from a variety of cultures, backgrounds, religions, ethnic groups, and ages and hope that you will become part of a diverse group of Americans who will take pride in supporting each other and demonstrating the richness of American culture.
  
''Main article: [[History of the Peace Corps in Honduras]]''
+
Peace Corps/Guatemala has an active Diversity Network.  This is a Volunteer committee with several goals, including instituting a “buddy system” to match new Volunteers who may have some very specific concerns or questions they would like to discuss with an experienced Volunteer. The Diversity Network also assists with training and has a direct liaison with Peace Corps staff to discuss issues related to improving staff support to Volunteers.
  
Times have changed since the first lady of Honduras, Doña Alejandra Bermudez de Villeda Morales, accompanied the first training class of Peace Corps Volunteers to Honduras in 1962. Over the past 43 years, more than 5,000 Volunteers have served in Honduras in a wide range of project areas, including health, fisheries, beekeeping, animal husbandry, special education, vocational education, small business, and agriculture. Project areas and numbers of Volunteers have changed in response to the changing needs of the country. Projects such as fisheries, beekeeping, and education were phased out as Honduran people and institutions developed the capacity to continue the work on their own. Other projects, such as municipal development, HIV/AIDS prevention, and business development, have been initiated or have evolved with technological advances, increased globalization of world markets, and other developments.
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===What Might A Volunteer Face?===
  
In response to the crisis caused by Hurricane Mitch in 1998, the number of Volunteers in Honduras increased dramatically. Today an average of 200 Volunteers work in the western, eastern, and southern regions of Honduras. In 2003 Peace Corps/Honduras expanded its program to the north coast of Honduras.
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====Possible Issues for Female Volunteers====
  
There are two published Peace Corps Experience books in print. "Triumph and Hope; Golden Years With the Peace Corps Honduras," by Barbara E. Joe describes service between 2000 and 2002 (Barbara Joe, 2008). "South of the Frontera; A Peace Corps Memoir" by Lawrence F. Lihosit describes service between 1975 and 1977 (iUniverse, NY, 2010).
+
In rural Guatemala, there is a genuine division between the roles of women and those of men. The degree of separation frequently leads people to rely on stereotypical beliefs about people of the opposite sex—men, with respect to women and vice versa. This dependence upon stereotypical images lends itself to the dehumanization of relations between men and women and to a situation in which people are viewed as objects. Unfortunately, the image of American women portrayed in popular television programs suggests that they are sexually available. Additionally, in some regions of Guatemala, male virility is identified with power and social dominance. Some female Volunteers find the numerous sexually explicit invitations they receive to be intolerably offensive. However, during Pre-Service Training Peace Corps/ Guatemala staff and Volunteers will help trainees develop strategies to deal with these issues.  
  
 +
====Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color====
  
==Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyle==
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The dynamic of racism does not play out in Guatemala in quite the same way as it does in the United States. The first identification of the Volunteer is as a gringo, an identification that is a mixture of proportions of admiration and resentment that vary from person to person. Gringos are typically thought of as being of Caucasian descent, rich, and sometimes overbearing. Therefore, Volunteers of color are often not initially viewed as gringos or even American. Stereotypically, all Asian Americans are described as chino and sometimes are assumed to be associated with the Korean clothing industry present in Guatemala. African Americans are called moreno or negro and often are thought to be Garifuna, a Guatemalan ethnic group primarily populating the Caribbean coast.
  
''Main article: [[Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Honduras]]''
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Volunteers of Latin and Southeast Asian descent are often assumed to be Guatemalan. Conversations with Guatemalans regarding one’s ethnicity and heritage are numerous, sometimes to the point of being annoying. However, this allows Volunteers the opportunity to educate host country nationals about the true nature of American diversity. Without a doubt, Volunteers of color have positive, rich and successful Peace Corps experiences in Guatemala.
  
Volunteer housing varies according to the area of the country and its climate. In much of the southern region, houses are open and airy to provide ventilation. Houses tend to be more closed in mountainous areas. Some Volunteers live in houses made of adobe, while others live in houses made of wood or cinder blocks or in apartments. Roofing generally consists of clay tiles or corrugated metal. Most Volunteer houses have electricity and running water, though the source of water is often outside the house and water may flow only sporadically. Housing in rural sites may have outdoor latrines instead of indoor plumbing.
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====Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers====
  
Peace Corps/Honduras will provide Volunteers with one secure housing option upon site assignment where Volunteers must live for at least the first two months. Peace Corps/Honduras may also suggest other housing options that can be explored by Volunteers after the initial two-month period. Volunteers will not be assigned to communities where adequate housing is not available.
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Senior Volunteers may feel that they have successfully resolved many challenges of holding down a job, establishing relationships, and perhaps even raising a family. In Guatemala, they might find that the “big questions” to which they have the “answers” are different from the ones in the United States. Also, learning a second language is tough at any age.  Some senior Volunteers have expressed that it may take a little longer than it might have when they were younger. In Guatemala, seniors are treated with great respect, but they are also viewed as being outside of the economic mainstream. Senior Volunteers working in a host country agency sometimes face the double stigma of being “older” and being a gringo.  
  
The Peace Corps expects Volunteers to use good judgment in deciding where and with whom to live after the initial time period. Volunteers are strongly encouraged to live with a family and to take the necessary time to choose a living situation that considers community norms, language acquisition, and personal safety.
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====Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers====
  
During the site-selection process, project teams will determine the availability of adequate housing. If no options are available, the site will not host a Volunteer. Safe and secure housing is a priority, and Peace Corps/Honduras will help you work with the landlord to make any necessary modifications to improve the safety and security of your home, such as adding deadbolt locks and bars on windows. Additionally, the Peace Corps makes an effort to select sites that offer reasonable and safe transportation. Keep in mind that rural areas of Honduras are more rustic than rural areas of the United States.
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In Guatemala, the common conception of homosexuality is different than that in the United States. Homosexuals are commonly thought to be gay men (not women) who dress in women’s clothes and are often prostitutes. If one doesn’t fit into this category, they are generally assumed to be heterosexual. However, homosexual relationships are considered by many to be taboo and could provoke serious reactions in rural communities. For Volunteers, there may be pressure to live more “in” than “out,” especially in rural communities, despite having been “out” in the United States.  
  
Peace Corps Volunteer sites are located throughout Honduras with the exception of the departments of Gracias a Dios and the Bay Islands. The site in which you eventually serve will be selected based upon the local needs of the community, your skills and interests, and the overall goals and objectives of the Peace Corps/Honduras project in which you will work.
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Lesbians will have to deal with constant questions about boyfriends, marriage, and sex (as do all women). Wearing an “engagement ring” may help. Gay men must deal with machismo: talk of conquest(s), girl watching, and dirty jokes.  
  
==Training==
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Most tourist destinations have a more relaxed attitude, and discrete homosexuality is less likely to provoke as severe a reaction as in village communities.
  
''Main article: [[Training in Honduras]]''
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Despite generally negative perceptions of homosexuality within Guatemala, there are openly gay Guatemalans, as well as numerous gay organizations and businesses that cater to the gay population, especially in the capital. In addition, Peace Corps/Guatemala has as part of the Diversity Network an affinity group called Cuates (friends) that periodically organizes social outings for gay, lesbian, and bisexual Volunteers and friends. 
  
Prior to becoming a Volunteer, you will participate in an 11week training program in Honduras. Pre-service training (PST) incorporates experiential learning and adult learning methodology that is meant to challenge you while preparing you to begin your work as a Volunteer. Though pre-service training can be taxing at times, Peace Corps/Honduras works to ensure that it is challenging and fun.
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====Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers====
  
Upon arrival in Honduras, trainees move in with host families after a brief introductory session. The first four weeks of training take place in a large group and include trainees from various projects. In the fifth week, most trainees will move to other communities for field-based training, which focuses on the practical application of project technical skills.
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Guatemala is a profoundly religious country where religion is public and emotional. For Volunteers used to a more contemplative or low-key religious tradition, it may be a challenge to identify other people who can support your faith.  
  
Although you were recruited for a particular project and your training will be tailored to the requirements of that project, all Volunteers are considered to be community development facilitators. You will receive theoretical and hands-on training in community analysis, participatory analysis, gender analysis, community development, and integrated community development and become familiar with current development efforts in Honduras. As the weeks pass, you may find that you need to adapt both existing skills and new skills to the work environment in Honduras.
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Although Guatemala’s Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, almost all churches are either Roman Catholic or Christian Fundamentalist. In the tension between Catholics and Fundamentalists, there is little recognition of other faith communities, including Mayan religious practices.  Many Guatemalans remain uninformed about Judaism and may have negative attitudes. Managing a conversation can be delicate and some Volunteers have had difficulty being open about their Jewish ethnicity. There is, however, a rich history of Jews in Guatemala and an active Jewish community that welcomes foreigners. There are also Hindu and Muslim communities in Guatemala. Peace Corps/Guatemala staff can provide information to Volunteers who are interested in connecting to various communities of faith.  
  
==Health Care and Safety==
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====Possible Issues for Volunteers with Disabilities====
  
''Main article: [[Health care and safety in Honduras]]''
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In the wake of 36 years of civil war, there are a number of people with permanent disabilities. However, there is virtually no consideration for handicap access in public transportation or in public buildings.
  
The Peace Corps’ highest priority is maintaining the good health and safety of every Volunteer. Peace Corps medical programs emphasize the preventive, rather than the curative, approach to disease. Peace Corps/Honduras maintains a clinic with four full-time medical officers, who take care of Volunteers’ primary health-care needs. Additional medical services, such as testing and treatment, are also available at regional medical facilities. If you become seriously ill, you will be transported to a major hospital in the capital and then, if necessary, medically evacuated to the United States.
+
The Peace Corps Office of Medical Services, as part of the medical clearance process, determined that you were physically and emotionally capable, with or without reasonable accommodations, of performing a full tour of Volunteer service in Guatemala without unreasonable risk to yourself or interruption of your service. Peace Corps/Guatemala staff work with disabled Volunteers to make reasonable accommodations in training, housing, job sites, and other areas to enable them to serve safely and effectively.  
  
 +
====Possible Issues for Married Volunteers====
  
==Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues==
+
Married couples may face unique challenges in Guatemala. For instance, a married man may be encouraged to be the more dominant member in the relationship. He may also be encouraged by the local culture to make decisions independent of his spouse’s views and to have his wife serve him. He may be ridiculed if he performs domestic tasks.  On the other hand, a married woman may find herself in a less independent role than that to which she has been accustomed. She may also experience a more limited social life in the community than single Volunteers (since it may be assumed that she will be busy taking care of her husband).  Additionally, she may be expected by the local culture to perform “traditional” domestic chores such as cooking or cleaning. Competition between a couple may become a difficulty, especially if one spouse learns faster than the other (e.g., language skills, job skills). There also may be differences in job satisfaction and/or different needs between spouses. Younger Volunteers may look to couples for advice and support. Married couples also are likely to be treated with more respect because the community sees marriage as a responsibility. They may be asked when they will have children.
  
''Main article: [[Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Honduras]]''
+
PLEASE NOTE: Married couples will most likely NOT live together during pre-service training to allow them to develop their language skills, but there will be chances to spend time together. 
  
In Honduras, as in other Peace Corps host countries, Volunteers’ behavior, lifestyle, background, and beliefs are judged in a cultural context very different from their own. Certain personal perspectives or characteristics commonly accepted in the United States may be quite uncommon, unacceptable, or even repressed in Honduras.
+
[[Category:Guatemala]]
 
+
Outside of Honduras’ capital and other large cities, residents of rural communities have had relatively little direct exposure to other cultures, races, religions, and lifestyles. What is viewed as typical American behavior or norms may be a misconception, such as the belief in some countries that all Americans are rich and have blond hair and blue eyes. The people of Honduras are justly known for their generous hospitality to foreigners; however, members of the community in which you will live may display a range of reactions to cultural differences that you present.
+
 
+
To ease the transition and adapt to life in Honduras, you may need to make some temporary, yet fundamental compromises in how you present yourself as an American and as an individual. For example, female trainees and Volunteers may not be able to exercise the independence available to them in the United States; political discussions need to be handled with great care; and some of your personal beliefs may best remain undisclosed. You will need to develop techniques and personal strategies for coping with these and other limitations. The Peace Corps staff will lead diversity and sensitivity discussions during pre-service training and will be on call to provide support, but the challenge ultimately will be your own.
+
 
+
* Possible Issues for Female Volunteers
+
* Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color
+
* Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers
+
* Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers
+
* Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers
+
* Possible Issues for Volunteers With Disabilities
+
* Possible Issues for Married Volunteers
+
 
+
 
+
==Frequently Asked Questions==
+
 
+
{{Volunteersurvey2008
+
|H1r=  48
+
|H1s=  70.3
+
|H2r=  38
+
|H2s=  83
+
|H3r=  46
+
|H3s=  82.4
+
|H4r=  26
+
|H4s=  106.6
+
|H5r=  35
+
|H5s=  53.2
+
|H6r=  50
+
|H6s=  75.4
+
}}
+
 
+
''Main article: [[FAQs about Peace Corps in Honduras]]''
+
 
+
* How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Honduras?
+
* What is the electric current in Honduras?
+
* How much money should I bring?
+
* When can I take vacation and have people visit me?
+
* Will my belongings be covered by insurance?
+
* Do I need an international driver’s license?
+
* What should I bring as gifts for Honduran friends and my host family?
+
* Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be?
+
* How can my family contact me in an emergency?
+
* Can I call home from Honduras?
+
* Should I bring a cellular phone with me?
+
 
+
 
+
 
+
==Packing List==
+
 
+
''Main article: [[Packing list for Honduras]]''
+
 
+
This list has been compiled by Volunteers serving in Honduras and is based on their experience. Use it as an informal guide in making your own list, bearing in mind that experience is individual. There is no perfect list! You obviously cannot bring everything we mention, so consider those items that make the most sense to you personally and professionally. You can always have things sent to you later. As you decide what to bring, keep in mind that you have an 80pound weight restriction on baggage. And remember, you can get almost everything you need in Honduras.
+
 
+
Your clothes should be sturdy enough to hold up under rough wear and laundry techniques and free of the need for ironing. The amount of professional versus casual clothing you bring should be based on personal preference and on the type of work you will be doing. For example, a water and sanitation Volunteer probably needs more casual clothes for work than does a small business Volunteer. Shorts are acceptable in limited circumstances, but especially in larger towns and for athletic activities. Women, however, should also bring sweatpants that are comfortable to work out in. Note that big and tall sizes are often difficult to find in Honduras, as are women’s shoes larger than size 8 and men’s shoes larger than size 10-1/2. Because there are many good tailors and seamstresses in Honduras who can make many styles at a reasonable price, you may want to bring patterns or pictures of clothing that they can copy or adapt for you.
+
 
+
* General Clothing
+
* For Men
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* Shoes
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* Personal Hygiene and Toiletry Items
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* Kitchen
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* Miscellaneous
+
 
+
 
+
==Peace Corps News==
+
 
+
Current events relating to Peace Corps are also available by [[News | country of service]] or [[News by state|your home state]]
+
 
+
''The following is automatic RSS feed of Peace Corps news for this country.''<br><rss title=on desc=off>http://news.google.com/news?hl=en&ned=us&scoring=n&q=%22peace+corps%22+%22honduras%22&output=rss|charset=UTF-8|short|date=M d</rss>
+
 
+
<br>'''[http://peacecorpsjournals.com PEACE CORPS JOURNALS]'''<br>''( As of {{CURRENTDAYNAME}} {{CURRENTMONTHNAME}} {{CURRENTDAY}}, {{CURRENTYEAR}} )''<rss title=off desc=off>http://peacecorpsjournals.com/rss/ho/blog/50.xml|charset=UTF-8|short|max=10</rss>
+
 
+
==Country Fund==
+
 
+
Contributions to the [https://www.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=resources.donors.contribute.projDetail&projdesc=522-CFD Honduras Country Fund] will support Volunteer and community projects that will take place in Honduras. These projects include water and sanitation, agricultural development, and youth programs.
+
 
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==See also==
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* [[Volunteers who served in Honduras]]
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* [[Amigos de Honduras]]
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* [[List of resources for Honduras]]
+
* [[Pre-Departure Checklist]]
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* [[Inspector General Reports]]
+
 
+
 
+
==External links==
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* [http://www.pccatrachos.com/ Honduras Homepage]
+
* [http://www.peacecorpsjournals.com/ho.html Peace Corps Journals - Honduras]
+
* [http://groups.yahoo.com/group/volscatrachos/ Volscatrachos Yahoo Group]
+
[[Category:Honduras]] [[Category:Central America and Mexico]]
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[[Category:Country]]
+

Latest revision as of 06:56, 21 May 2014

Diversity and cross-cultural issues in [[{{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Guatemala| |5}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Guatemala| |6}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Guatemala| |7}}]]
In fulfilling the Peace Corps’ mandate to share the face of America with their host countries, Peace Corps is making special efforts to see that all of America’s richness is reflected in the Volunteer corps. More Americans of color are serving in today’s Peace Corps than at any time in recent years. Differences in race, ethnic background, age, religion, and sexual orientation are expected and welcomed among our Volunteers. Part of the Peace Corps’ mission is to help dispel any notion that Americans are all of one origin or race and to establish that each of us is as thoroughly American as the other despite our many differences.
  • [[Packing list for {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Guatemala| |5}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Guatemala| |6}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Guatemala| |7}}]]
  • [[Training in {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Guatemala| |5}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Guatemala| |6}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Guatemala| |7}}]]
  • [[Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Guatemala| |5}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Guatemala| |6}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Guatemala| |7}}]]
  • [[Health care and safety in {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Guatemala| |5}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Guatemala| |6}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Guatemala| |7}}]]
  • [[Diversity and cross-cultural issues in {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Guatemala| |5}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Guatemala| |6}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Guatemala| |7}}]]
  • [[FAQs about Peace Corps in {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Guatemala| |5}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Guatemala| |6}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Guatemala| |7}}]]
  • [[History of the Peace Corps in {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Guatemala| |5}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Guatemala| |6}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Guatemala| |7}}]]
See also:
[[Category:{{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Guatemala| |5}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Guatemala| |6}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Guatemala| |7}}]]

In fulfilling the Peace Corps’ mandate to share the face of America with our host countries, we are making special efforts to see that all of America’s richness is reflected in the Volunteer corps. More Americans of color are serving in today’s Peace Corps than at any time in recent years. Differences in race, ethnic background, age, religion, and sexual orientation are expected and welcomed among our Volunteers. Part of the Peace Corps’ mission is to help dispel any notion that Americans are all of one origin or race, and to establish that each of us is as thoroughly American as the other, despite our many differences. Our diversity helps us accomplish that goal.

In other ways, however, our diversity poses challenges. In Guatemala, as in other Peace Corps host countries, Volunteers’ behavior, lifestyles, background, and beliefs will be judged in a cultural context very different from our own. Certain personal perspectives or characteristics considered familiar and commonly accepted in the United States may be quite uncommon, unacceptable, or even repressed.

Outside of Guatemala’s capital, residents of rural communities have had relatively little direct exposure to other cultures, races, religions, and lifestyles. What is advertised as “typical” cultural behavior or norms may also be a narrow and selective interpretation, such as the perception in some countries that all Americans are rich and have blond hair and blue eyes. The people of Guatemala are justly known for their generous hospitality to foreigners; however, members of the community in which you will live may display a range of reactions to differences that you present. We will ask you to be supportive of one another.

In order to ease the transition and adapt to life in Guatemala, you may need to make some temporary, yet fundamental compromises with who you are as an American and as an individual. For example, female trainees and Volunteers may not be able to exercise the independence available to them in the United States; political discussions will need to be handled with great care; and some of your personal beliefs may best remain undisclosed. You will need to develop techniques and personal strategies for coping with these and other limits. Peace Corps staff will lead diversity and sensitivity discussions during your pre-service training and will be on call to provide support, but the challenge ultimately will be your own.

Overview of Diversity in Guatemala[edit]

Peace Corps staff in Guatemala recognizes the adjustment issues that come with diversity and will endeavor to provide support and guidance. During pre-service training, several sessions will be held to discuss diversity and coping mechanisms. We look forward to having male and female Volunteers from a variety of cultures, backgrounds, religions, ethnic groups, and ages and hope that you will become part of a diverse group of Americans who will take pride in supporting each other and demonstrating the richness of American culture.

Peace Corps/Guatemala has an active Diversity Network. This is a Volunteer committee with several goals, including instituting a “buddy system” to match new Volunteers who may have some very specific concerns or questions they would like to discuss with an experienced Volunteer. The Diversity Network also assists with training and has a direct liaison with Peace Corps staff to discuss issues related to improving staff support to Volunteers.

What Might A Volunteer Face?[edit]

Possible Issues for Female Volunteers[edit]

In rural Guatemala, there is a genuine division between the roles of women and those of men. The degree of separation frequently leads people to rely on stereotypical beliefs about people of the opposite sex—men, with respect to women and vice versa. This dependence upon stereotypical images lends itself to the dehumanization of relations between men and women and to a situation in which people are viewed as objects. Unfortunately, the image of American women portrayed in popular television programs suggests that they are sexually available. Additionally, in some regions of Guatemala, male virility is identified with power and social dominance. Some female Volunteers find the numerous sexually explicit invitations they receive to be intolerably offensive. However, during Pre-Service Training Peace Corps/ Guatemala staff and Volunteers will help trainees develop strategies to deal with these issues.

Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color[edit]

The dynamic of racism does not play out in Guatemala in quite the same way as it does in the United States. The first identification of the Volunteer is as a gringo, an identification that is a mixture of proportions of admiration and resentment that vary from person to person. Gringos are typically thought of as being of Caucasian descent, rich, and sometimes overbearing. Therefore, Volunteers of color are often not initially viewed as gringos or even American. Stereotypically, all Asian Americans are described as chino and sometimes are assumed to be associated with the Korean clothing industry present in Guatemala. African Americans are called moreno or negro and often are thought to be Garifuna, a Guatemalan ethnic group primarily populating the Caribbean coast.

Volunteers of Latin and Southeast Asian descent are often assumed to be Guatemalan. Conversations with Guatemalans regarding one’s ethnicity and heritage are numerous, sometimes to the point of being annoying. However, this allows Volunteers the opportunity to educate host country nationals about the true nature of American diversity. Without a doubt, Volunteers of color have positive, rich and successful Peace Corps experiences in Guatemala.

Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers[edit]

Senior Volunteers may feel that they have successfully resolved many challenges of holding down a job, establishing relationships, and perhaps even raising a family. In Guatemala, they might find that the “big questions” to which they have the “answers” are different from the ones in the United States. Also, learning a second language is tough at any age. Some senior Volunteers have expressed that it may take a little longer than it might have when they were younger. In Guatemala, seniors are treated with great respect, but they are also viewed as being outside of the economic mainstream. Senior Volunteers working in a host country agency sometimes face the double stigma of being “older” and being a gringo.

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

In Guatemala, the common conception of homosexuality is different than that in the United States. Homosexuals are commonly thought to be gay men (not women) who dress in women’s clothes and are often prostitutes. If one doesn’t fit into this category, they are generally assumed to be heterosexual. However, homosexual relationships are considered by many to be taboo and could provoke serious reactions in rural communities. For Volunteers, there may be pressure to live more “in” than “out,” especially in rural communities, despite having been “out” in the United States.

Lesbians will have to deal with constant questions about boyfriends, marriage, and sex (as do all women). Wearing an “engagement ring” may help. Gay men must deal with machismo: talk of conquest(s), girl watching, and dirty jokes.

Most tourist destinations have a more relaxed attitude, and discrete homosexuality is less likely to provoke as severe a reaction as in village communities.

Despite generally negative perceptions of homosexuality within Guatemala, there are openly gay Guatemalans, as well as numerous gay organizations and businesses that cater to the gay population, especially in the capital. In addition, Peace Corps/Guatemala has as part of the Diversity Network an affinity group called Cuates (friends) that periodically organizes social outings for gay, lesbian, and bisexual Volunteers and friends.

Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers[edit]

Guatemala is a profoundly religious country where religion is public and emotional. For Volunteers used to a more contemplative or low-key religious tradition, it may be a challenge to identify other people who can support your faith.

Although Guatemala’s Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, almost all churches are either Roman Catholic or Christian Fundamentalist. In the tension between Catholics and Fundamentalists, there is little recognition of other faith communities, including Mayan religious practices. Many Guatemalans remain uninformed about Judaism and may have negative attitudes. Managing a conversation can be delicate and some Volunteers have had difficulty being open about their Jewish ethnicity. There is, however, a rich history of Jews in Guatemala and an active Jewish community that welcomes foreigners. There are also Hindu and Muslim communities in Guatemala. Peace Corps/Guatemala staff can provide information to Volunteers who are interested in connecting to various communities of faith.

Possible Issues for Volunteers with Disabilities[edit]

In the wake of 36 years of civil war, there are a number of people with permanent disabilities. However, there is virtually no consideration for handicap access in public transportation or in public buildings.

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

Possible Issues for Married Volunteers[edit]

Married couples may face unique challenges in Guatemala. For instance, a married man may be encouraged to be the more dominant member in the relationship. He may also be encouraged by the local culture to make decisions independent of his spouse’s views and to have his wife serve him. He may be ridiculed if he performs domestic tasks. On the other hand, a married woman may find herself in a less independent role than that to which she has been accustomed. She may also experience a more limited social life in the community than single Volunteers (since it may be assumed that she will be busy taking care of her husband). Additionally, she may be expected by the local culture to perform “traditional” domestic chores such as cooking or cleaning. Competition between a couple may become a difficulty, especially if one spouse learns faster than the other (e.g., language skills, job skills). There also may be differences in job satisfaction and/or different needs between spouses. Younger Volunteers may look to couples for advice and support. Married couples also are likely to be treated with more respect because the community sees marriage as a responsibility. They may be asked when they will have children.

PLEASE NOTE: Married couples will most likely NOT live together during pre-service training to allow them to develop their language skills, but there will be chances to spend time together.