Difference between pages "Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Bangladesh" and "Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Jamaica"

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===Communications===
 
  
====Mail====  
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===Communications===
  
Mail dsfdsfrt fghs dsdfgdfg  becomes a very important lifeline, especially in the beginning when you are adjusting to a new culture, a new language, and a new work situation. Unfortunately, however, mail service between the United States and Bangladesh can be erratic.
 
  
Volunteers report that while most letters and packages eventually arrive, they can take anywhere from a few days to several months to reach you. You can help improve the chances of a speedy arrival by asking family and friends to write “Via Airmail” or “Par Avion” on their letters. You might also want to ask people to number their letters so you can keep track of whether any have been lost.
 
  
Packages often take more than a month (and sometimes two or three) to arrive, even when they have been sent by airmail.
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====Mail====
  
In addition, a tax based on the value of the goods contained in the package must be paid to receive it. Services such as DHL, UPS, and FedEx are faster, but considerably more expensive for both the sender and the Volunteer because of higher customs duties on express packagessometimes up to $50.  
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Mail from the United States usually takes one to three weeks to arrive, but it has been known to take several months or not arrive at all. Despite the delays, we encourage you to write to your family regularly. Family members often become worried when they do not hear from you, so it is a good idea to advise them that mail service is sporadic and that they should not worry if they do not receive your letters regularly. If a serious problem were to occur, Peace Corps/Jamaica would notify the Office of Special Services at Peace Corps headquarters in Washington, D.C., which would then contact your family.  Also advise your family that in the case of an emergency, they can contact the Office of Special Services in Washington at 800.424.8580, extension 1470.  
  
Packages are sometimes opened en route, and the contents may not be returned to the box intact. Small, flat manila envelopes seem to make it through without an extra charge. It is advisable to tell people to not send you anything valuable and to list all the items sent somewhere on the inside of the package.
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During pre-service training, your mail should be sent to the following address:
  
Until you get your permanent address at the end of training, your friends and family can send mail to you at the following Peace Corps office address:
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“Your Name,” PCT
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c/o Country Director
  
 
Peace Corps  
 
Peace Corps  
  
House 10F Road 82
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8 Worthington Avenue
 
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Gulshan 2
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Dhaka 1212, Bangladesh
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====Telephones====
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Telephone communications can be frustrating in
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Bangladesh—land lines between towns are not always reliable, and you may have difficulties getting through. However, cellphone service is developing rapidly, even in rural areas.
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Because of heightened concern worldwide over the safety and security of Americans abroad, Peace Corps/Bangladesh recently decided to provide all its Volunteers with a cellphone, which can be used to call any other cellphone in the country. Volunteers are expected to use their cellphone for Peace Corps-related purposes only and to maintain it in good condition.
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Most cellphones purchased in the United States will not work in Bangladesh because of the differing technology. Although cellphones capable of making and receiving international calls are available for around $600 in Dhaka (along with high monthly fees), the Peace Corps does not provide this type of phone.
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====Computer, Internet, and E-Mail Access====
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E-mail access in Bangladesh is growing rapidly, though it is still not available in all towns. More and more cybercafes are springing up in Dhaka and other major metropolitan areas, and there are private e-mail services in some of the larger district cities and towns. Charges asd sdawe rwq for Internet and e-mail access usually run less than $1 an hour, depending on how luxurious the cybercafe is. Some places charge a flat rate for sending a message and another rate for receiving messages. If you do not already have an e-mail account that you can access overseas, you may want to get one before you come to Bangladesh.
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An amazing accomplishment of Bangladesh is the widespread degree of electrification in rural areas. When driving in the countryside, you will see simple mud-brick and bamboo-mat houses along the road with an electrical box attached to the outside wall. Because of the ready availability of electricity, most Volunteers in Bangladesh enjoy the convenience of electric lights and fans. If you have a laptop, feel free to bring it with you. Although you will initially live with a host family whose housing may be very basic, it should be possible to set up a laptop computer if you move into your own apartment.
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Although the heat, humidity, and dust could damage it, you will probably be very happy to have a laptop with you for typing letters, lesson plans, etc. While you may not have room for a printer, you can buy disks locally and take them somewhere to have your materials printed out for a modest charge. If you choose to bring a laptop, we strongly recommend that you insure it.
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===Housing and Site Location===
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During pre-service training and for the first three months at site, Volunteers live with host families to develop Bangla language skills, gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of Bangladeshi culture, and facilitate integration in the community. Following this initial three-month period, Volunteers may choose to continue living with their host family or seek other accommodations. Volunteers generally find modest apartments in their communities, which usually have electricity and running water. Host family accommodations are reviewed and approved in advance by Peace Corps staff. All housing selected by Volunteers must also be approved by the Peace Corps/Bangladesh office.
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The communities where Volunteers live and work are identified by Peace Corps staff in conjunction with the host institutions. Peace Corps/Bangladesh staff visit and evaluate all sites for safety and suitability. Around the middle of pre-service training, each Volunteer is assigned a site according to the “best fit” between the individual and the site. Volunteers have the option of being posted with another Volunteer—provided the request is mutual—or being posted by themselves. In training, you will develop some idea of where you would like to be posted, and Volunteer preference is taken into account.
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Before you are sworn in as a Volunteer, you will spend two to three days at your assigned post, gaining some knowledge of the community in which you will live and of the work that you will do. This is an excellent time for you to reconsider your commitment to two years of service as a Peace Corps Volunteer. The experience is like no other, rich and rewarding in ways that cannot be duplicated otherwise, but it does require honest consideration of your ability to cope with the stress and discomforts of living outside your culture and working in an environment that is probably very different from what you are used to.
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===Living Allowance and Money Management===
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You will receive a monthly living allowance that permits you to live modestly in Bangladesh. The expectation is that you will live at the same standard as your Bangladeshi counterparts, but without endangering your health or safety. The living allowance is calculated to cover costs for housing, utilities, food, clothing, toiletries, household supplies, transportation to and from work, locally available recreation and entertainment, and incidental expenses such as postage, film, and reading materials. In Bangladesh, Volunteers receive a small additional allowance to purchase a couple of outfits made in the local style of dress.
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===Food and Diet===
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The food in Bangladesh is similar to that served in Indian restaurants in the United States. The standard diet is rice with spiced lentils (dal) and fish, meat, or vegetable curry. The staple food is rice, and low- to middle-income families eat rice three times a day. Wheat is not part of the traditional diet but is becoming more and more popular. It is used in delicious and satisfying unleavened breads (e.g., chapati, nan, roti, etc.) and snacks. Some Volunteers find it hard to adapt to what they consider excessive oil and fried foods in the Bangladeshi diet.
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The availability of fruit and vegetables varies according to the area and the season. The winter provides a good variety of fresh vegetables, whereas the best season for fruit (including mangoes, pineapples, and papayas) is the summer. Bananas are plentiful for most of the year.
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Volunteers usually cook for themselves once they are settled into their new home, but there are plenty of ready-made foods available for those who are not kitchen inclined. Tasty, filling prepared foods include samosas (meat or vegetables fried in a triangular pastry), shingaras (potato and vegetables in pastry), and many kinds of mishti (small, cakelike sweets that are sometimes served with a sweet sauce). Some Volunteers are able to eat in a communal setting at their work site.
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Kingston, 5, Jamaica, West Indies
  
Cleanliness in food preparation is always an issue. Fresh fruits and vegetables should not be eaten unless peeled first or soaked in a bleach or iodine solution, and cooked food should always be eaten hot. This issue will be addressed more thoroughly in pre-service training.  
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Once you become a Volunteer and are at your site, you may choose to have your letters sent directly to your new address, but packages should always be sent by the U.S. Postal Service to the Peace Corps office at the above address. Packages sent to any other address, or sent through services like UPS, DHL, and Federal Express, will be held at the airport until you make the trip to claim them and pay duty.  
  
Vegetarians enjoy plenty of choices if they cook for themselves. Dried beans, canned beans, and tofu are available in  
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Packages can take from two weeks to four months to arrive. They must be lighter than 22 pounds and are cheaper to mail if they are less than 11 pounds. Note that books and documents that weigh a minimum of 11 pounds can be sent to you in an “M-Bag” through the U.S. Postal Service at a relatively economical rate. Further information is available at U.S. post offices and at www.usps.com.
  
Dhaka, eggs are always available, and various kinds of processed cheese that does not have to be refrigerated can be found. If you are invited to eat at someone’s home, you may face the difficulty of having to decline what is offered to you, as fish and meat are part of most people’s diet. However, if you explain your diet before you arrive, your hosts may be able to cater to your needs. In Bangladesh, being a vegetarian often means that one eats fish or chicken, so it is advisable to be very explicit about your dietary needs. In addition, the concept of veganism is not familiar to the vast majority of
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====Telephones====
  
Bangladeshis. Vegan Volunteers should be prepared to educate their host families about their dietary preferences and to make adjustments to their diet if necessary.
 
  
Alcohol is illegal in Bangladesh and virtually unavailable. What little alcohol is available is brewed or distilled illegally and sold on the black market. There are regular incidents in Bangladesh of people dying of poisoning from drinking bad alcohol. Do not even think about trying it.
 
  
In Bangladesh, as in many cultures, a distinction is made between the use of the left and right hands. The left hand is used for cleaning one’s body after using the toilet and is therefore considered unclean. Writing with the left hand is not a problem, but food must not be touched with the left hand.  
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Land-line telephones are available throughout the island except in very remote areas, and international phone service to and from Jamaica is fairly reliable. AT&T, Sprint, and MCI offer toll-free numbers that directly connect you with an operator to place a collect call. Prepaid calling cards called “World Talk” are available island-wide for local and overseas calls on public and private phones, but they can be expensive for long-distance calls. U.S. calling cards are not accepted.  If calling home collect is not an option, the most economical option is for your loved ones to call you directly. Many cellphones from the United States do not function in Jamaica, but there are four major cellphone companies providing reliable island-wide coverage. You are strongly encouraged to purchase a cellphone in-country rather than bringing one from home.  
  
Since Bangladeshis generally eat using their fingers, you should always use your right hand to eat even if you are left-handed. There is no need to worry about making a mess, as everybody else does.
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====Computer, Internet, and E-mail Access ====
  
It is also considered offensive to offer things or make gestures with your left hand. Similarly, it is important to try to use your right hand to accept letters, pass papers in the workplace, pay for things, etc. The only exception to this is at mealtimes, when food is passed with the left hand as the right hand is normally covered with rice and dal. In pre-service training, we will discuss strategies for left-handed Volunteers to be culturally sensitive in a right-handed culture.  
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If you bring a laptop, make certain it is insured and bring a power surge protector. (You might also consider bringing a portable printer.) E-mail access is becoming more available and is an economical way to communicate. Peace Corps/ Jamaica’s resource center is equipped with four computers with Internet access for use by Volunteers. There are also Internet cafes in the larger cities.  
  
An incidental note about using one’s hands incorrectly: The thumbs-up and A-OK gestures that are common in the United States are considered obscene in Bangladesh. Although they are seen often enough in American films and advertising to have become somewhat less offensive in Dhaka, outside the capital city, and especially in rural settings, these gestures should be avoided.
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===Housing and Site Location===
  
===Transportation===
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Your living conditions in Jamaica may not be as rugged as those in many Peace Corps posts. Most Volunteers have indoor plumbing and running water. The water usually is not heated, however, so be prepared for cold showers. Laundry, while usually washed by hand, is usually done in a sink or a washtub. Electricity exists island-wide, except in very remote areas. Very few Volunteers go without a refrigerator and other electrical appliances, and many Volunteers have amenities such as cable television.
  
Bicycle rickshaws are the most common form of transport for small distances. The rickshaws have three wheels, with a sofa-like seat for two behind the driver and a hood that can be put up for rain. A rickshaw ride can be quite rickety, so passengers often have to brace themselves with hands or feet. Riding in a rickshaw on an open road with a cool wind in your face can be very pleasant, but riding in one in Dhaka during rush hour is a completely different experience. Many rickshaws have poor brakes and can be stopped only by running into the back of a rickshaw in front. Auto rickshaws, also called “baby taxis,” are motor-driven three-wheelers whose back seat can hold up to three people. (One or two extra people sometimes sit next to the driver when there are no police around.) These taxis are convenient, but traveling in them can be a nightmare, as the drivers often ignore traffic rules and collisions are frequent. “Tempos” are taxis that hold 10 to 20 people and follow set routes for a low fee. (In rural areas you might find yourself sharing them with chickens,goats, or calves.) Rickshaw safety will be discussed during training.  
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Living conditions will vary depending upon whether your site is rural, peri-urban, or urban. Areas with mining, manufacturing, and tourism will have a higher standard of living. The agency to which you are assigned will assist you in identifying suitable housing. All Volunteers must live in the initial housing identified by their agency for at least the first four months of service after which Volunteers may move to different housing if they so desire (with the approval of Peace Corps staff). If accommodations do not meet your needs, it will be your responsibility to locate housing that meets specified budgetary, health, and safety criteria and is approved by Peace Corps staff. The most common living situations are a room with its own entrance, attached to a bathroom and kitchen that you share with a family; an apartment you share with another Volunteer; or your own place. Generally, Volunteers remain in the housing initially identified by their agency.  
  
Local buses can be irritatingly slow. Long-distance buses tend to travel at unsafe speeds, but companies are beginning to impose penalties on drivers who arrive earlier than their scheduled time. Some long-distance buses have modern coaches with air conditioning, offering relatively comfortable travel. Accidents and crime are more frequent during overnight bus travel, however, so Volunteers are prohibited from traveling at night.  
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During pre-service training, you will be placed with a host family for the community-based portion of training. Here you will receive a firsthand orientation to Jamaican culture and community life.
  
Train travel is usually a pleasant experience. Although local trains tend to be overcrowded, long-distance trains are comfortable and reliable. First-class, air-conditioned sleeping compartments are available on some routes, and most trains have fans. Rail service to the west is complicated by numerous river crossings; on these routes, travelers have to get off the train and onto a ferry to rejoin the railway line on the other side.
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===Living Allowance and Money Management ===
  
Travel to the southwest may mean taking a short ferry trip across a small river or up to three hours for a larger river. Waiting time for getting onto a ferry varies enormously, the current record being 15 hours. Because ferries commonly have accidents, they present a real safety risk. You will learn about traveling safely on water during pre-service training. Another means of travel to the southwest is via launches.  
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The local currency is the Jamaican dollar, and the exchange rate changes constantly. The Peace Corps will open checking accounts for you in local and U.S. currency at a branch of the National Commercial Bank, which will issue you an ATM card. Your living allowance and leave allowances will be deposited monthly into these accounts. To help facilitate this process, please send a scanned photo ID to jamaica@peacecorps.gov once you accept your invitation.  
  
These boats vary in quality but can be very relaxing, and it is worth booking your trip in advance to travel on one of the better ones. The Rocket, a favorite, is a modern ship with a television in the main lounge, a dining hall, and other amenities. Launches can be fogbound during the winter.
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===Food and Diet ===
  
Airplane travel is relatively cheap. A 20-minute flight from Dhaka to Rajshahi is much more appealing than an eight-hour ordeal by bus and ferry, but flights are often delayed. Walking is by far the safest method of travel in Bangladesh, though the concept of walking for pleasure is not widely understood (probably because it is too hot and muggy most of the year).  
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Your diet may not need to change drastically while you are in Jamaica. The main source of meat is chicken, and you are likely to become a culinary expert in its preparation.. Beef, goat, and fish are also readily available.  
  
When walking, one should never assume that traffic will come from only one direction, even on one side of a divided roadway.  
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Vegetarians need not be concerned. Although there may be a smaller variety of foods than you are used to, fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as dried beans and rice, are plentiful.  Many rastafarians follow an "ital" diet which is vegetarian and often vegan, and TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein) is widely available as a vegetarian protein source..  Note that Jamaicans love hot and spicy foods. For those who crave a taste of home, Burger King, KFC, Subway, Wendy’s, T.G.I.Friday’s, Domino’s, and Pizza Hut can be found in many urban areas. Also available in urban areas are imported food items. Once you move to your site, you will learn to make do with what is available locally—a little creativity does go a long way.
  
===Social Activities===  
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===Transportation ===
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Within the Kingston Metropolitan Area (Kingston, Portmore, Saint Andrew and Spanish Town), the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) runs a modern and efficient transportation system with hubs similar to those in America. Taxis and Hackney Carriages that operate rural routes are crowded and often do not operate on regular schedules. The JUTC operates three hubs within the Kingston Metropolitan Area; the very modern Half-Way Tree Transport Center, Parade, and The new Downtown Transport Center. Rural travel options range from large buses, minibuses and route taxis to pickup trucks, bicycles, and lots of walking. It may be necessary for you to walk or bike long distances in hot, humid, or rainy weather. The Peace Corps issues bicycles and helmets to those who need them to get to work (supplies permitting). Volunteers are required to wear a helmet while riding bicycles.
  
In Bangladesh, most social activities center on the home or cultural events such as theater, music, and dance. Because Bangla became the nation’s official language after independence, English has been de-emphasized in education for the past 30 years and many educated Bangladeshis speak limited English. The number and quality of friendships you develop, therefore, will depend on your own efforts to develop language skills that help you traverse the Bangla-English divide.
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===Geography and Climate===
  
However, this does not mean Bangladeshis are not eager to host English-speaking guests, and as you get to know the people in your town, you are likely to be invited to their homes often. If the hospitality becomes a burden, you will have to practice the same sensitivity you would practice in the United States in turning down social invitations. Participating in local cultural activities is a good way to meet people and to learn more about the country. Such events take place mostly in Dhaka, but there are also occasional concerts by touring professionals and amateur musicians and various groups performing traditional drama in some of the district centers.  
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Jamaica has a tropical climate. Temperatures vary between 80 degrees and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and are about 10 degrees lower at higher elevations. Both days and nights generally are hot and humid in the summer months, while evenings are noticeably cooler during the winter. At higher elevations, especially between November and March, evenings can be quite chilly, and a light wrap, long-sleeved shirt, or sweatshirt may be necessary. Rain can occur any time throughout the year, though most likely from May through June and from September through October.  
  
Social life is relatively quiet in smaller towns and villages, and weddings and religious or national holidays are common occasions for celebration. As a Volunteer, you may be invited to a wedding of people you barely know. Going out to eat is not common, but most midsize towns have at least one Chinese-style restaurant. Many towns also have cinemas that show films in Bangla and Hindi. Larger towns have more variety in cinemas and restaurants, and Dhaka boasts many high-quality restaurants that serve Indian, Chinese, Thai, and Italian food.
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===Social Activities ===
  
Badminton, cricket, soccer, and volleyball are popular sports in Bangladesh, and many Volunteers posted in rural areas participate. There are also tennis and squash courts in Dhaka and a few other places. Note that because Bengali women traditionally do not participate in sports, it is much more difficult for women than for men to engage in sports or other kinds of physical activity outside of the expatriate clubs in Dhaka. This may prove frustrating to some female Volunteers.  
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Activities available for entertainment will depend on where you are assigned and how creative you are. Among the possibilities are reading, walking, writing letters, riding a bicycle, swimming, socializing with friends, taking classes, doing arts and crafts, going to the movies or plays, watching videos or television, listening to music or a shortwave radio, dancing at clubs or DJ parties, snorkeling, scuba diving, playing games (e.g., cards or dominoes, the national pastime), and playing musical instruments.  
  
===Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior===  
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===Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior ===
  
In trying to fit into the local culture, you will inevitably retain your own cultural identity, but there are behaviors you can adopt that will allow you to assimilate more easily and feel more comfortable in social and professional situations. A professional demeanor is very important. Though you will be in Bangladesh as a Volunteer with the Peace Corps, you will be working as a representative of a Bangladeshi agency or organization and will be expected to dress and behave accordingly.  
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You will be working as a Peace Corps Volunteer in cooperation with a government ministry or Jamaican organization and will be expected to dress and behave as a professional. Most professional Jamaicans dress well and follow a conservative dress code. If this dress code is not maintained, it is seen as disrespectful. While tourists may wear short shorts and transparent clothing, such attire is not appropriate for Volunteers.  
  
Inappropriate dress may be construed as a sign of disrespect for one’s colleagues and can reflect badly not only on you but on the Peace Corps as an assistance organization. However, we can only provide you with guidelines; when you arrive in Bangladesh, you will make your own observations that will give these guidelines meaning.  
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Peace Corps/Jamaica has guidelines for appropriate professional dress, which you are expected to adhere to when visiting business establishments or the Peace Corps office, especially during working hours. Men should wear long trousers (not jeans), a short- or long-sleeved shirt with a collar, and leather shoes with socks. Women should wear a skirt and blouse, a nice pantsuit, or a dress, with nice closed-toe dress shoes or flats. Jeans, T-shirts, sneakers, casual sandals (e.g., Tevas or Birkenstocks), and other casual wear are inappropriate except during some field-oriented activities.  
  
Dressing modestly is essential for female Volunteers in Bangladesh. Many Western women who live outside of Dhaka choose to wear local fashions, but if you wear Western clothes, they should be loose fitting, cover your upper arms, and cover your legs down to the ankles. Slips must be worn with see-through fabrics, and tight T-shirts, sleeveless tops, or low-cut garments will attract unwelcome attention. Shorts are inappropriate except when you are alone in your home or at an expatriate facility in Dhaka. Traditional dress for
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Flip-flops should not be worn during pre-service training or during work hours. Any body piercings besides in the ear are inappropriate; please remove these piercings before you have sex. Visible tattoos are also inappropriate and should be kept covered to the extent possible.
  
Bangladeshi women consists of either a shalwar kameez (for younger, unmarried women) or a sari (for married women), but these distinctions do not apply so rigidly to Western women. A shalwar kameez consists of long, baggy pants worn with a loose-fitting tunic and a long scarf (orna) draped around the front to cover one’s chest. A wide variety of shalwar kameez outfits are available for 500 taka (about $10). In
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===Personal Safety ===
  
Dhaka, because of the their popularity among Western women, larger sizes are being made for sale off the rack, but you can also have them made to order by local tailors (bring a favorite pair of pants for copying by the tailor to get the right fit). Women assigned to rural areas often wear saris, which require a petticoat and blouse, available locally in all colors and sizes for about 100 taka (about $1.75). A basic sari costs about 300 taka ($5), but one made of hand-painted or embroidered silk could cost several thousand taka.  
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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 Volunteers complete their two years of service without personal security incidents.  The Peace Corps has established procedures and policies designed to help you reduce your risks and enhance your safety and security. These procedures and policies, in addition to safety training, will be provided once you arrive in Jamaica. At the same time, you are expected to take responsibility for your own safety and well-being.  
  
Male professionals wear either Western-style clothing or, especially for formal occasions (including going to a mosque), a punjabi, which consists of baggy pants (usually white) worn with a tunic. Most male Volunteers wear lightweight cotton pants and shirts, both of which can be tailored locally for less than it would cost to buy the same clothes in the United States. (Tailored pants cost about $8 or $9 and shirts cost about $4 or $5.) Shorts are not appropriate for male Volunteers except when participating in sports. Most Bangladeshi men who do manual labor wear a lungi, a thin, ankle-length skirt that is wrapped around the waist and can be pulled up to resemble shorts. Some male Volunteers wear lungis around the house, but they are not appropriate at work or when out in public. Sandals are the most common footwear for both men and women, and women often wear earrings, nose studs, and bangles.
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===Rewards and Frustrations ===
  
A Volunteer is often the only American in a Bangladeshi community. Hence, in addition to the responsibility for their conduct as individuals, Volunteers, whom host country citizens
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The real sacrifices you will make in the Peace Corps are in the form of the tremendous daily, even hourly, efforts you will make to operate and be effective in another culture and the constant struggle to be self-aware and sensitive. A former Volunteer explains:
  
inevitably see as examples of American culture and customs, have a responsibility to conduct themselves in a manner reflecting credit on the Peace Corps and their country. At the same time, Volunteers are expected to show respect for Bangladesh’s culture and customs.  
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“Most of us agree that although we knew the Peace Corps was going to be hard, it is often hard in a different way than we expected. We all worried about adjusting to the bugs and the heat, but that’s the easy part. It’s more of a challenge to get used to dealing with perplexing bureaucracy, the lack of motivation in some host country counterparts, the lack of technology and education, and cultural barriers.” As with most developing countries, there will be challenges such as irregular transportation, disruptions in electrical and water supplies, and inordinate delays in getting things done.  
  
===Personal Safety===
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Your maturity, openness to change, and commitment to the Peace Corps will greatly enhance your ability to adapt to living and working in Jamaica. Judging by the experience of former Volunteers, the rewards are well worth the difficulties, and most Volunteers leave Jamaica feeling that they have gained much more than they gave during their service.
  
More detailed 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. Most 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 Bangladesh Volunteers complete their two years of service without personal security incidents. The Peace Corps has established procedures and policies designed to help you reduce your risks and enhance your safety and security. These procedures and policies, in addition to safety training, will be provided once you arrive in Bangladesh. At the same time, you are expected to take responsibility for your safety and well-being.
 
  
[[Category:Bangladesh]]
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[[Category:Jamaica]]

Revision as of 05:49, 12 September 2011



Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in [[{{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Jamaica| |6}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Jamaica| |7}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Jamaica| |8}}]]
As a Peace Corps Volunteers, you will have to adapt to conditions that may be dramatically different than you have ever experienced and modify lifestyle practices that you now take for granted. Even the most basic practices— talking, eating, using the bathroom, and sleeping — may take significantly different forms in the context of the host country. If you successfully adapt and integrate, you will in return be rewarded with a deep understanding of a new culture, the establishment of new and potentially lifelong relationships, and a profound sense of humanity.
  • [[Packing list for {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Jamaica| |6}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Jamaica| |7}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Jamaica| |8}}]]
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  • [[Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Jamaica| |6}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Jamaica| |7}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Jamaica| |8}}]]
  • [[Health care and safety in {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Jamaica| |6}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Jamaica| |7}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Jamaica| |8}}]]
  • [[Diversity and cross-cultural issues in {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Jamaica| |6}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Jamaica| |7}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Jamaica| |8}}]]
  • [[FAQs about Peace Corps in {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Jamaica| |6}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Jamaica| |7}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Jamaica| |8}}]]
  • [[History of the Peace Corps in {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Jamaica| |6}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Jamaica| |7}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Jamaica| |8}}]]
See also:

Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyles by Country Pre-Departure Checklist
Staging Timeline

For information see Welcomebooks

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Communications

Mail

Mail from the United States usually takes one to three weeks to arrive, but it has been known to take several months or not arrive at all. Despite the delays, we encourage you to write to your family regularly. Family members often become worried when they do not hear from you, so it is a good idea to advise them that mail service is sporadic and that they should not worry if they do not receive your letters regularly. If a serious problem were to occur, Peace Corps/Jamaica would notify the Office of Special Services at Peace Corps headquarters in Washington, D.C., which would then contact your family. Also advise your family that in the case of an emergency, they can contact the Office of Special Services in Washington at 800.424.8580, extension 1470.

During pre-service training, your mail should be sent to the following address:

“Your Name,” PCT

c/o Country Director

Peace Corps

8 Worthington Avenue

Kingston, 5, Jamaica, West Indies

Once you become a Volunteer and are at your site, you may choose to have your letters sent directly to your new address, but packages should always be sent by the U.S. Postal Service to the Peace Corps office at the above address. Packages sent to any other address, or sent through services like UPS, DHL, and Federal Express, will be held at the airport until you make the trip to claim them and pay duty.

Packages can take from two weeks to four months to arrive. They must be lighter than 22 pounds and are cheaper to mail if they are less than 11 pounds. Note that books and documents that weigh a minimum of 11 pounds can be sent to you in an “M-Bag” through the U.S. Postal Service at a relatively economical rate. Further information is available at U.S. post offices and at www.usps.com.

Telephones

Land-line telephones are available throughout the island except in very remote areas, and international phone service to and from Jamaica is fairly reliable. AT&T, Sprint, and MCI offer toll-free numbers that directly connect you with an operator to place a collect call. Prepaid calling cards called “World Talk” are available island-wide for local and overseas calls on public and private phones, but they can be expensive for long-distance calls. U.S. calling cards are not accepted. If calling home collect is not an option, the most economical option is for your loved ones to call you directly. Many cellphones from the United States do not function in Jamaica, but there are four major cellphone companies providing reliable island-wide coverage. You are strongly encouraged to purchase a cellphone in-country rather than bringing one from home.

Computer, Internet, and E-mail Access

If you bring a laptop, make certain it is insured and bring a power surge protector. (You might also consider bringing a portable printer.) E-mail access is becoming more available and is an economical way to communicate. Peace Corps/ Jamaica’s resource center is equipped with four computers with Internet access for use by Volunteers. There are also Internet cafes in the larger cities.

Housing and Site Location

Your living conditions in Jamaica may not be as rugged as those in many Peace Corps posts. Most Volunteers have indoor plumbing and running water. The water usually is not heated, however, so be prepared for cold showers. Laundry, while usually washed by hand, is usually done in a sink or a washtub. Electricity exists island-wide, except in very remote areas. Very few Volunteers go without a refrigerator and other electrical appliances, and many Volunteers have amenities such as cable television.

Living conditions will vary depending upon whether your site is rural, peri-urban, or urban. Areas with mining, manufacturing, and tourism will have a higher standard of living. The agency to which you are assigned will assist you in identifying suitable housing. All Volunteers must live in the initial housing identified by their agency for at least the first four months of service after which Volunteers may move to different housing if they so desire (with the approval of Peace Corps staff). If accommodations do not meet your needs, it will be your responsibility to locate housing that meets specified budgetary, health, and safety criteria and is approved by Peace Corps staff. The most common living situations are a room with its own entrance, attached to a bathroom and kitchen that you share with a family; an apartment you share with another Volunteer; or your own place. Generally, Volunteers remain in the housing initially identified by their agency.

During pre-service training, you will be placed with a host family for the community-based portion of training. Here you will receive a firsthand orientation to Jamaican culture and community life.

Living Allowance and Money Management

The local currency is the Jamaican dollar, and the exchange rate changes constantly. The Peace Corps will open checking accounts for you in local and U.S. currency at a branch of the National Commercial Bank, which will issue you an ATM card. Your living allowance and leave allowances will be deposited monthly into these accounts. To help facilitate this process, please send a scanned photo ID to jamaica@peacecorps.gov once you accept your invitation.

Food and Diet

Your diet may not need to change drastically while you are in Jamaica. The main source of meat is chicken, and you are likely to become a culinary expert in its preparation.. Beef, goat, and fish are also readily available.

Vegetarians need not be concerned. Although there may be a smaller variety of foods than you are used to, fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as dried beans and rice, are plentiful. Many rastafarians follow an "ital" diet which is vegetarian and often vegan, and TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein) is widely available as a vegetarian protein source.. Note that Jamaicans love hot and spicy foods. For those who crave a taste of home, Burger King, KFC, Subway, Wendy’s, T.G.I.Friday’s, Domino’s, and Pizza Hut can be found in many urban areas. Also available in urban areas are imported food items. Once you move to your site, you will learn to make do with what is available locally—a little creativity does go a long way.

Transportation

Within the Kingston Metropolitan Area (Kingston, Portmore, Saint Andrew and Spanish Town), the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) runs a modern and efficient transportation system with hubs similar to those in America. Taxis and Hackney Carriages that operate rural routes are crowded and often do not operate on regular schedules. The JUTC operates three hubs within the Kingston Metropolitan Area; the very modern Half-Way Tree Transport Center, Parade, and The new Downtown Transport Center. Rural travel options range from large buses, minibuses and route taxis to pickup trucks, bicycles, and lots of walking. It may be necessary for you to walk or bike long distances in hot, humid, or rainy weather. The Peace Corps issues bicycles and helmets to those who need them to get to work (supplies permitting). Volunteers are required to wear a helmet while riding bicycles.

Geography and Climate

Jamaica has a tropical climate. Temperatures vary between 80 degrees and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and are about 10 degrees lower at higher elevations. Both days and nights generally are hot and humid in the summer months, while evenings are noticeably cooler during the winter. At higher elevations, especially between November and March, evenings can be quite chilly, and a light wrap, long-sleeved shirt, or sweatshirt may be necessary. Rain can occur any time throughout the year, though most likely from May through June and from September through October.

Social Activities

Activities available for entertainment will depend on where you are assigned and how creative you are. Among the possibilities are reading, walking, writing letters, riding a bicycle, swimming, socializing with friends, taking classes, doing arts and crafts, going to the movies or plays, watching videos or television, listening to music or a shortwave radio, dancing at clubs or DJ parties, snorkeling, scuba diving, playing games (e.g., cards or dominoes, the national pastime), and playing musical instruments.

Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior

You will be working as a Peace Corps Volunteer in cooperation with a government ministry or Jamaican organization and will be expected to dress and behave as a professional. Most professional Jamaicans dress well and follow a conservative dress code. If this dress code is not maintained, it is seen as disrespectful. While tourists may wear short shorts and transparent clothing, such attire is not appropriate for Volunteers.

Peace Corps/Jamaica has guidelines for appropriate professional dress, which you are expected to adhere to when visiting business establishments or the Peace Corps office, especially during working hours. Men should wear long trousers (not jeans), a short- or long-sleeved shirt with a collar, and leather shoes with socks. Women should wear a skirt and blouse, a nice pantsuit, or a dress, with nice closed-toe dress shoes or flats. Jeans, T-shirts, sneakers, casual sandals (e.g., Tevas or Birkenstocks), and other casual wear are inappropriate except during some field-oriented activities.

Flip-flops should not be worn during pre-service training or during work hours. Any body piercings besides in the ear are inappropriate; please remove these piercings before you have sex. Visible tattoos are also inappropriate and should be kept covered to the extent possible.

Personal Safety

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 Volunteers complete their two years of service without personal security incidents. The Peace Corps has established procedures and policies designed to help you reduce your risks and enhance your safety and security. These procedures and policies, in addition to safety training, will be provided once you arrive in Jamaica. At the same time, you are expected to take responsibility for your own safety and well-being.

Rewards and Frustrations

The real sacrifices you will make in the Peace Corps are in the form of the tremendous daily, even hourly, efforts you will make to operate and be effective in another culture and the constant struggle to be self-aware and sensitive. A former Volunteer explains:

“Most of us agree that although we knew the Peace Corps was going to be hard, it is often hard in a different way than we expected. We all worried about adjusting to the bugs and the heat, but that’s the easy part. It’s more of a challenge to get used to dealing with perplexing bureaucracy, the lack of motivation in some host country counterparts, the lack of technology and education, and cultural barriers.” As with most developing countries, there will be challenges such as irregular transportation, disruptions in electrical and water supplies, and inordinate delays in getting things done.

Your maturity, openness to change, and commitment to the Peace Corps will greatly enhance your ability to adapt to living and working in Jamaica. Judging by the experience of former Volunteers, the rewards are well worth the difficulties, and most Volunteers leave Jamaica feeling that they have gained much more than they gave during their service.