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

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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.
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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, socioeconomics, 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.
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In other ways, however, our diversity poses challenges. In Samoa, 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 here.  
  
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.
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Outside of Samoa’s capital, residents of rural communities have had relatively little direct exposure to other cultures, races, religions, and lifestyles. What is viewed as “typical” cultural behavior or norms may 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 Samoa 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. To ease the transition and adapt to life in Samoa, 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 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.  Although Peace Corps staff will lead diversity and sensitivity discussions during your pre-service training and will be on call to provide support, the challenge will ultimately be your own.  
  
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.
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===Overview of Diversity in Samoa ===
  
===Overview of Diversity in Guatemala ===
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The Peace Corps staff in Samoa recognizes adjustment issues that come with diversity and will endeavor to provide support and guidance. During pre-service training, several sessions will be held to discuss diversity and coping mechanisms. We look forward to having male and female Volunteers from a variety of cultures, backgrounds, religions, ethnic groups, sexual orientations, 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 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.
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===What Might a Volunteer Face? ===
  
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.
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====Possible Issues for Female Volunteers ====
  
===What Might A Volunteer Face?===
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Sexual harassment can occur to both women and men anywhere in the world. However, there is no arguing that female Volunteers are more prone to be targeted. Women can be verbally harassed and have unwanted sexual advances made toward them at work, on the road, and in public places.  It is important for Volunteers to realize that they are not alone or isolated. Volunteers are trained in methods and apprised of existing policies that will allow them to deal effectively if they become a target of such harassment.
  
====Possible Issues for Female Volunteers====
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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.
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====Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color ====
  
====Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color====
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Volunteers of color contribute a lot in educating Samoans about the diversity of American society. It would be untrue to say that “racism” does not exist in Samoa. Asian and African-American Volunteers have experienced racial remarks or comments being leveled at them in one instance or another.  Most of the remarks can be innocent enough, born out of ignorance and misunderstanding perhaps resulting from how Americans of color are represented in the media. Helping Samoans to remove the stereotype that all Americans— especially Volunteers—are white does help a great deal.
  
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.
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====Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers ====
  
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.
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Being a senior Volunteer may offer additional challenges to Peace Corps service. However, older Volunteers have served admirably and have overcome these challenges. A concern for some senior Volunteers worldwide has been accommodation and transportation. It is important for all Volunteers to remember that the amenities offered in most housing will be very basic. Moreover, transportation is also basic and limited to the use of public transport (often on crowded buses), a bicycle, or walking. However, Samoa has adequate transportation infrastructure in terms of good roads and site accessibility. Another concern for some senior Volunteers prior to service is language acquisition. Rest assured that if you are interested and willing to try, the Peace Corps training staff will work closely with you to overcome that hurdle.  
  
====Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers====
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====Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers ====
  
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.  
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It is currently illegal for anyone to engage in homosexual behavior in Samoa. Legal authorities have noted that many of Samoa’s civil laws are dated and have been since the country became independent in the 1960s. Having said that, in general, most Samoans tolerate and accept gay, lesbian, and bisexual Volunteers. We have not received any negative reports or had complaints lodged against such Volunteers. However, most Volunteers opt to remain closeted to the Samoan community, and are able to be freely out with the Peace Corps community including Volunteers and staff. As long as Volunteers are discreet, their sexual preference should not have a negative impact on their Peace Corps service.  
  
====Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers====
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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.
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====Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers ====
  
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.  
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Since Samoa is a Christian country, Volunteers may face the tag of being non-church going or an atheist if they do not attend church on Sundays. Sunday observance in Samoa is enforced, especially within the villages. Volunteers, despite their religious beliefs or affiliations, often find that participation in certain church services or activities, like singing in the choir, are useful for community integration and can be viewed as another aspect of the cross-cultural experience. For those who do not attend church services, you should refrain from any activities outside or inside the home that may be interpreted as being disrespectful of the holy day.  
  
Most tourist destinations have a more relaxed attitude, and discrete homosexuality is less likely to provoke as severe a reaction as in village communities.
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====Possible Issues for Volunteers With Disabilities ====
  
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.
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Volunteers with disabilities may receive stares of curiosity as some Samoans may fail to realize that staring is inappropriate. The Government of Samoa has put an emphasis on increasing services for people with disabilities and on improving education for students with special needs. These efforts are beginning to lead to greater awareness, understanding, and positive change.  
  
====Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers====
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The Peace Corps Office of Medical Services determined that you were physically and emotionally capable, with or without reasonable accommodations, of performing a full tour of Volunteer service in Samoa without unreasonable risk to yourself or interruption of your service. Peace Corps/Samoa staff will work with disabled Volunteers to make reasonable accommodations in training, housing, job sites, and other areas to enable them to serve safely and effectively.
  
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.
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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.
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====Possible Issues for Married Volunteers ====
  
====Possible Issues for Volunteers with Disabilities====
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Couples will be housed together during training and service in Samoa. Nevertheless, they may face their own set of issues during training and service. While couples will do many activities together, they should be prepared and willing to work on separate projects and assignments. These may require one of the spouses to commute to another village or site during the day or even to stay at a separate location for a few days at a time.
  
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.  
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Couples should consider how varying degrees of enthusiasm about Peace Corps service, adaptation to the physical or cultural environment, and homesickness will affect their lives.  A husband and wife may have to deal with changed marital roles due to societal expectations. A married man may be encouraged to take on a more dominant role in the relationship, while a married woman may find herself in a less independent role than she is used to. This may create tension for a couple at work (e.g., a wife being expected to perform “traditional” domestic chores instead of working) and at home (a husband being ridiculed for performing domestic tasks or for refusing to have extramarital affairs). Finally, responding to and coping with competition (e.g., one spouse learning more quickly than the other) or differences in job satisfaction may also be issues couples should consider before beginning their service.
  
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.
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[[Category:Samoa]]
 
 
====Possible Issues for Married Volunteers====
 
 
 
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. 
 
 
 
[[Category:Guatemala]]
 

Latest revision as of 12:03, 23 August 2016

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

Outside of Samoa’s capital, residents of rural communities have had relatively little direct exposure to other cultures, races, religions, and lifestyles. What is viewed as “typical” cultural behavior or norms may 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 Samoa 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. To ease the transition and adapt to life in Samoa, 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 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. Although Peace Corps staff will lead diversity and sensitivity discussions during your pre-service training and will be on call to provide support, the challenge will ultimately be your own.

Overview of Diversity in Samoa

The Peace Corps staff in Samoa recognizes adjustment issues that come with diversity and will endeavor to provide support and guidance. During pre-service training, several sessions will be held to discuss diversity and coping mechanisms. We look forward to having male and female Volunteers from a variety of cultures, backgrounds, religions, ethnic groups, sexual orientations, 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.

What Might a Volunteer Face?

Possible Issues for Female Volunteers

Sexual harassment can occur to both women and men anywhere in the world. However, there is no arguing that female Volunteers are more prone to be targeted. Women can be verbally harassed and have unwanted sexual advances made toward them at work, on the road, and in public places. It is important for Volunteers to realize that they are not alone or isolated. Volunteers are trained in methods and apprised of existing policies that will allow them to deal effectively if they become a target of such harassment.


Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color

Volunteers of color contribute a lot in educating Samoans about the diversity of American society. It would be untrue to say that “racism” does not exist in Samoa. Asian and African-American Volunteers have experienced racial remarks or comments being leveled at them in one instance or another. Most of the remarks can be innocent enough, born out of ignorance and misunderstanding perhaps resulting from how Americans of color are represented in the media. Helping Samoans to remove the stereotype that all Americans— especially Volunteers—are white does help a great deal.

Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers

Being a senior Volunteer may offer additional challenges to Peace Corps service. However, older Volunteers have served admirably and have overcome these challenges. A concern for some senior Volunteers worldwide has been accommodation and transportation. It is important for all Volunteers to remember that the amenities offered in most housing will be very basic. Moreover, transportation is also basic and limited to the use of public transport (often on crowded buses), a bicycle, or walking. However, Samoa has adequate transportation infrastructure in terms of good roads and site accessibility. Another concern for some senior Volunteers prior to service is language acquisition. Rest assured that if you are interested and willing to try, the Peace Corps training staff will work closely with you to overcome that hurdle.

Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers

It is currently illegal for anyone to engage in homosexual behavior in Samoa. Legal authorities have noted that many of Samoa’s civil laws are dated and have been since the country became independent in the 1960s. Having said that, in general, most Samoans tolerate and accept gay, lesbian, and bisexual Volunteers. We have not received any negative reports or had complaints lodged against such Volunteers. However, most Volunteers opt to remain closeted to the Samoan community, and are able to be freely out with the Peace Corps community including Volunteers and staff. As long as Volunteers are discreet, their sexual preference should not have a negative impact on their Peace Corps service.


Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers

Since Samoa is a Christian country, Volunteers may face the tag of being non-church going or an atheist if they do not attend church on Sundays. Sunday observance in Samoa is enforced, especially within the villages. Volunteers, despite their religious beliefs or affiliations, often find that participation in certain church services or activities, like singing in the choir, are useful for community integration and can be viewed as another aspect of the cross-cultural experience. For those who do not attend church services, you should refrain from any activities outside or inside the home that may be interpreted as being disrespectful of the holy day.

Possible Issues for Volunteers With Disabilities

Volunteers with disabilities may receive stares of curiosity as some Samoans may fail to realize that staring is inappropriate. The Government of Samoa has put an emphasis on increasing services for people with disabilities and on improving education for students with special needs. These efforts are beginning to lead to greater awareness, understanding, and positive change.

The Peace Corps Office of Medical Services determined that you were physically and emotionally capable, with or without reasonable accommodations, of performing a full tour of Volunteer service in Samoa without unreasonable risk to yourself or interruption of your service. Peace Corps/Samoa staff will 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

Couples will be housed together during training and service in Samoa. Nevertheless, they may face their own set of issues during training and service. While couples will do many activities together, they should be prepared and willing to work on separate projects and assignments. These may require one of the spouses to commute to another village or site during the day or even to stay at a separate location for a few days at a time.

Couples should consider how varying degrees of enthusiasm about Peace Corps service, adaptation to the physical or cultural environment, and homesickness will affect their lives. A husband and wife may have to deal with changed marital roles due to societal expectations. A married man may be encouraged to take on a more dominant role in the relationship, while a married woman may find herself in a less independent role than she is used to. This may create tension for a couple at work (e.g., a wife being expected to perform “traditional” domestic chores instead of working) and at home (a husband being ridiculed for performing domestic tasks or for refusing to have extramarital affairs). Finally, responding to and coping with competition (e.g., one spouse learning more quickly than the other) or differences in job satisfaction may also be issues couples should consider before beginning their service.