Difference between pages "Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Ukraine" and "Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Jordan"

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In fulfilling its mandate to share the face of America with host countries, the 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 American as the other despite our many differences.  
+
One of our nation’s greatest strengths is the diversity of our cultural heritage. In fulfilling the Peace Corps’ mandate to share the varied faces of America with our hosts, we are making special efforts to ensure that all of America’s diversity is reflected among our Volunteer corps. More Americans of color are serving in today’s Peace Corps than at any time in its history and that participation continues to grow. These Volunteers are broadening the lessons we are learning about other people, adding to the image those people form about Americans, and “bringing the world home” to more and different American communities. We ask all who serve in the Peace Corps to begin their cross-cultural sensitivity at home, raising awareness about what is right and what is not in the way ethnic and racial groups relate to one another here in the United States.  
  
Our diversity helps us accomplish that goal. In other ways, however, it poses challenges. In Ukraine, 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 Ukraine.  
+
Television is common in Jordan and perceptions of Americans, unfortunately, come from the programs on the air. Common misperceptions are that all Americans are blond, blue-eyed, promiscuous, and rich. While many Jordanians are educated and familiar with foreign cultures, rural areas tend to be more traditional and may be less accepting of diversity. In Jordan (as in all Peace Corps countries), Volunteer behavior, religion, lifestyle, 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 elsewhere. Some of you may experience subtle discrimination, and a few, blatant bigotry. Jordanians are justly known for their generous hospitality to foreigners; however, members of the community in which you live may display a range of reactions to differences that you present.  
  
Outside of Ukraine’s capital, residents of rural communities have had relatively little direct exposure to other cultures, races, religions, and lifestyles. What people view as typical American behavior or norms may also be a misconception, such as the belief that all Americans are rich and have blond hair and blue eyes. The people of Ukraine 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.
+
===Overview of Diversity in Jordan ===
  
To ease the transition and adapt to life in Ukraine, 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 types of challenges. 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.  
+
Peace Corps staff in Jordan recognizes the adjustment issues that accompany diversity and endeavor to provide support and guidance. During pre-service training, there will be sessions to explore diversity and ways, individually and as a group, to cope successfully with these challenges and to be supportive of one another.  
  
===Overview of Diversity in Ukraine ===
+
In the pre-service training homestay experience, you will live as a family member, and your actions and behaviors will be subject to scrutiny and comment. To ease the transition and adapt to the ways of your host family, you will need to make some temporary, yet fundamental, compromises with who you are as an American and as an individual. You will possibly need to modify how you present yourself, even relative to core elements of your identity. For example, female trainees and Volunteers in Jordan are not able to exercise the independence available to them in the United States; Jewish Volunteers may not feel comfortable revealing their religion; political discussions will need to be handled with diplomacy; some of your personal beliefs or past experiences may best remain undisclosed. You must develop techniques and a personal strategy for coping with these and other limitations.  Peace Corps staff will be available, of course, to help you feel your way, but the challenge will ultimately be your own.
  
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 races, ethnic groups, ages, religions, and sexual orientations and hope that you will become part of a diverse group of Americans who take pride in supporting one another and demonstrating the richness of American culture.  
+
Be aware that this exercise of discretion and judgment, as well as the requirement to limit some behavior, may create very real personal stress. For some, the impact of such stress will be higher than for others.  
  
===What Might a Volunteer Face? ===
+
We advise you to learn as much as possible about Jordan before accepting this invitation. Use all the resources available to you and/or suggested by the Peace Corps to assess the challenges and evaluate the benefits of service as a Volunteer in Jordan. It is a marvelous country, with incredible diversity itself, presenting many opportunities for service and growth for any Volunteer. However, opportunities will be maximized when the adjustments required of you by Jordanian reality have, to the extent possible from afar, been realistically anticipated.
  
The comments in this section, which come from a cross-section of Volunteers who have served in Ukraine, are intended to stimulate thought and discussion. They reflect the fact that each person’s experience of Peace Corps service is unique.
+
===What Might A Volunteer Face? ===
  
====Possible Issues for Female Volunteers ====
+
The information below is intended to stimulate thought and discussion. Some of these points are country-specific, some are region-specific. It is important to recognize that these issues may or may not have an impact on your own Volunteer experience. Rather, they are listed to highlight things that one particular group or another may face. As you read, ask yourself, “How would I feel if that happened to me?” and “How could I help other Volunteers if this happened to them?”
  
At first, gender roles in Ukraine can be difficult to understand and accept. Ukrainian culture may appear to be discriminatory. Ukrainian women constitute more than 50 percent of the total population, and working women outnumber nonworking women. Although men and women may receive equal pay for equal work, women are underrepresented in positions of power and often are not promoted as readily as men to managerial positions. These gender differences, sometimes overt and sometimes subtle, can present problems for Volunteers in job situations.   
+
====Possible Issues for Female Volunteers====
 +
 
 +
Jordan is a traditional, patriarchal culture. Though Jordanian women are gaining more and more authority in the public eye, there are still few women in top positions in government or the private sector. Women, irrespective of the deference shown to them within the family, are usually not given the public status and respect afforded men. You should understand that this is an essential element of a centuries-old society and culture. On the other hand, it is important to note that Jordanians enjoy a greater level of formal, legal, and institutional gender equity than many other Arab societies.  While a major challenge for female Volunteers is a reduction in their independent lifestyle, they can still play an important role in modeling behavior that demonstrates to communities the extended capabilities of women. Gender and development activities are an integral part of Peace Corps/Jordan activities.
 +
 
 +
Female Volunteers may:
 +
 
 +
* Find that a single woman living alone is contrary to the cultural norm.
 +
* Receive more unwanted and inappropriate attention from young Jordanian men than they would in the United States.
 +
* Experience the perception that they are “loose,” therefore, not afforded the respect that conservative Muslim women are given by men on the street.
 +
* Have to work harder than male Volunteers to gain the respect of host country colleagues in the workplace.  
 +
* Need to keep a low social profile and practice discretion in public (e.g., smoking in public, drinking in bars, restrictions on dress) to avoid unwanted attention and an undesirable reputation.
 +
 
 +
Find satisfaction and acceptance in being a part of the “female world” of the community.   
  
 
====Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color ====
 
====Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color ====
  
Racial and ethnic minorities in Ukraine—primarily Poles, Hungarians, Crimean Tatars, and Greeks—make up about 5 percent of the total population. They are not always well-organized and are not usually recognized as separate communities. Crimean Tatars are the exception, as they are becoming a more significant facet of the population in Crimea.  
+
Though Jordanians themselves come from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, Volunteers of color may face challenges not faced by other Volunteers. Especially in traditional and isolated rural communities, they may experience extra frustration, even insult, in their work while dealing with rigid preconceptions and historical stereotypes. For example, since many of the domestic help in urban areas come from Asia (Philippines, Nepal, Sri Lanka), there is often a preconception that they are of a “lower class.” Volunteers of Asian heritatage may not fit into the common image Jordanians have of Americans and may be viewed with skepticism.  
  
In spite of the racial diversity of the former Soviet Union and Ukraine’s close contacts with former socialist countries in Asia and Africa, most Ukrainians have not had personal interactions with people of other races. They often assume that African-American or Asian-American Volunteers are university students from Africa or Asia rather than Americans. Thus minority Volunteers may be stopped to show their identification papers more frequently than other Volunteers, particularly in larger cities where they are not known. In addition, “skinhead” groups in some larger cities have reportedly targeted individuals of African or Asian heritage in the past. 
+
Volunteers of color may:
  
 +
* Be the only minority trainee or Volunteer within a particular program.
 +
* Work and live with individuals who have no experience or understanding of their culture.
 +
* Not receive sufficient personal support from other Volunteers.
 +
* Not find minority role models among Peace Corps country staff.
 +
*
 
====Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers ====
 
====Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers ====
  
Older people in Ukraine are generally respected and seen as sources of wisdom. So older Volunteers often have a greater degree of credibility upon arrival at their sitesThe slow pace of change in a developing country, however, may prove challenging for some individuals. In addition, certain conditions in Ukraine—uneven pavement, multistory buildings without elevators, tobacco smoke and other air pollutants, and lack of amenities—combine to make life more demanding than in the United States.   
+
Age is respected in traditional Islamic societies. The views and opinions of senior members, men or women, will garner more respect and be considered with greater gravity than those of younger individuals. Deference to, and respect for, age is integral in this society. Younger Volunteers may have to work harder than their older colleagues to be accepted as professionals.
 +
 
 +
Senior Volunteers may:
 +
 
 +
* Encounter frustrations during training in having their needs met for an effective learning environment.   
 +
* Need to be more assertive in developing an effective, individual approach to Arabic studies.  
 +
* Feel isolated within the Peace Corps community overseas—most Volunteers are in their 20s.
 +
* Not receive the necessary personal support from younger Volunteers.
 +
* Be reluctant to share personal, sexual, or health concerns.
 +
* Find that younger Volunteers look to them for advice and support. (Some seniors find this an enjoyable part of their Volunteer experience, while others choose not to fill this role.)
 +
   
  
 
====Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers ====
 
====Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers ====
  
Homosexuality was decriminalized in Ukraine in 1991. However, this often is not acknowledged, and civil rights related to sexual orientation are limited. The gay communities in Kyiv and other large cities are becoming more open, and in 1999 Nash Mir, the first gay nongovernmental organization, received official state registration. Some gay and lesbian Volunteers in Ukraine have found that being open about their sexual orientation at their sites has had a negative impact on their effectiveness.
+
Homosexual Volunteers can expect to encounter difficulties. Jordanian society does not openly acknowledge homosexuality. In fact, homosexual behavior is illegal in Jordan and gay and lesbian rights are not protected under the Jordanian constitution. Homosexual Volunteers must be extremely discreet about their sexual orientation and may encounter particularly trying situations at work and in the community. Many choose not to make their sexual orientation public. Regardless of what is found in the community, Peace Corps is committed to providing support to all Volunteers, regardless of sexual orientation and will work with individuals to address their individual needs.  
  
====Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers ====
+
Gay, lesbian, or bisexual Volunteers may have to contend with:
  
Many Ukrainians have little knowledge or understanding of non-Christian faiths. Religious observances are prevalent in schools and communities, particularly in western UkraineThere are Polish and Greek Catholic churches and Ukrainian Orthodox churches in most communities. Most big cities have large numbers of Christian missionaries, particularly from evangelical denominations. Volunteers are sometimes mistaken for missionaries, and the Peace Corps is careful to maintain a separation from such groups. If you do not attend church, Ukrainians may demand that you explain why, but it is possible to politely decline when invited to attend someone’s church if you choose not to.  
+
* Host country acceptance of homosexuality among nationals being different than their acceptance of homosexuality among foreigners.
 +
* Less support from other Volunteers for a homosexual lifestyle. Homosexual Volunteers may serve two years without meeting another gay Volunteer. Also, straight Volunteers and staff may not know how to offer needed support.
 +
* Constant questions about boyfriends or girlfriends, marriage, and sex. Wearing an “engagement ring” can help.
 +
* Most host country homosexuals will have migrated to larger cities while most Volunteers are posted at rural sites, where cultural difficulties may be greater.  Relationships with homosexual host country nationals can happen, but as with all cross-cultural relationships, they may not be easy.
 +
* Civil liberties being either nonexistent or ignored; homosexuals may be hassled in clubs or on the street.
 +
* Machismo, i.e., talk of conquest(s), girl-watching, and dirty jokes.
 +
 
 +
For more information, visit the following website: wwwlgbrpcv.org.
 +
 
 +
====Possible Issues for Married Volunteers====
 +
 
 +
While married couples have a built-in support system, they face other challenges that single Volunteers do not. Couples should be sure that they communicate honestly and respect each other’s feelings (likely to change on a daily basis and at a different pace for each of them).
 +
 
 +
Your roles will be different in this culture. A married man may be encouraged to be the more dominant member in the relationship or to have his wife serve him. He may be encouraged to make decisions independent of his spouse’s views and be ridiculed if he performs domestic tasks. A married woman may find herself in a less independent role than usual and be expected to perform all the domestic chores.
 +
 
 +
Additionally, competition may cause unease; one spouse may learn language or adjust faster than the other. There may be differences in job satisfaction and/or professional adaptation.
 +
 
 +
One spouse may be more enthusiastic about joining the Peace Corps, be better able to adapt to the new physical and/or cultural environmen, and be less or more homesick than the other.  Younger Volunteers may look to couples for advice and support.
 +
 
 +
====Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers ====
  
====Possible Issues for Volunteers With Disabilities====
+
For many in America, faith and religion are distinct from other aspects of their lives. In Jordan, Islam shapes every aspect of daily life. This can call for adjustments on your part given the amount of interest or curiosity you’ll experience regarding your religious observance or the lack of privacy that will be accorded to this personal matter. All Volunteers need to think carefully about how they will respond to questions about religious beliefs and observance. Declarations of agnostic, atheistic, multi-theistic, or other beliefs will elicit responses varying from confusion to intolerance.
  
As a disabled Volunteer in Ukraine, you may face a special set of challenges. In Ukraine, as in other parts of the world, some people hold prejudicial attitudes about individuals with disabilities and may discriminate against them. And there is very little of the infrastructure to accommodate individuals with disabilities that has been developed in the United States.  
+
Jewish Volunteers, in particular, can expect to be challenged with respect to religion and politics. Jordan is an Arab country in which the predominant religion is Islam. Furthermore, more than 60 percent of Jordan’s population are Palestinians. While they reside in and are citizens of Jordan, Palestinians first came here as refugees from a land that currently forms parts of Israel. Particularly with respect to the Palestinian question, the Middle East has long been subject to conflict—ideological, religious, ethnic, political, and sometimes physical—between the Arab states and Israel. Jordan and Israel signed a peace treaty in 1994. However, there are still very few Jews in Jordan except for some members of the expatriate community and no opportunities for public worship.  
  
That being said, as part of the medical clearance process, the Peace Corps Office of Medical Services determined that you were physically and emotionally capable, with or without reasonable accommodation, to perform a full tour of Volunteer service in Ukraine without unreasonable risk of harm to yourself or interruption of your service. The Peace Corps/Ukraine staff will work with disabled Volunteers to make reasonable accommodations for them in their training, housing, job sites, or in other areas, to enable them to serve safely and effectively.  
+
For many Jordanians, being Jewish equates with Zionism, and they assume that all Americans (Jewish and non-Jewish) are pro-Israel, a political position not generally accepted in Jordan. As a result, if you are Jewish and your religious beliefs or background become known, your efficacy and safety as a Volunteer could be compromised. For non-observant Christians, people may wonder (directly or indirectly) whether you are Jewish. Peace Corps recognizes that there are pros and cons to whatever coping strategy a Volunteer chooses, and we encourage you to consider each of your options carefully. Although the Peace Corps will support all Volunteers’ decisions regarding revealing their religion, most Jewish Volunteers have not felt comfortable doing so.
  
[[Category:Ukraine]]
+
[[Category:Jordan]]

Revision as of 14:48, 7 December 2015

Country Resources

One of our nation’s greatest strengths is the diversity of our cultural heritage. In fulfilling the Peace Corps’ mandate to share the varied faces of America with our hosts, we are making special efforts to ensure that all of America’s diversity is reflected among our Volunteer corps. More Americans of color are serving in today’s Peace Corps than at any time in its history and that participation continues to grow. These Volunteers are broadening the lessons we are learning about other people, adding to the image those people form about Americans, and “bringing the world home” to more and different American communities. We ask all who serve in the Peace Corps to begin their cross-cultural sensitivity at home, raising awareness about what is right and what is not in the way ethnic and racial groups relate to one another here in the United States.

Television is common in Jordan and perceptions of Americans, unfortunately, come from the programs on the air. Common misperceptions are that all Americans are blond, blue-eyed, promiscuous, and rich. While many Jordanians are educated and familiar with foreign cultures, rural areas tend to be more traditional and may be less accepting of diversity. In Jordan (as in all Peace Corps countries), Volunteer behavior, religion, lifestyle, 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 elsewhere. Some of you may experience subtle discrimination, and a few, blatant bigotry. Jordanians are justly known for their generous hospitality to foreigners; however, members of the community in which you live may display a range of reactions to differences that you present.

Overview of Diversity in Jordan

Peace Corps staff in Jordan recognizes the adjustment issues that accompany diversity and endeavor to provide support and guidance. During pre-service training, there will be sessions to explore diversity and ways, individually and as a group, to cope successfully with these challenges and to be supportive of one another.

In the pre-service training homestay experience, you will live as a family member, and your actions and behaviors will be subject to scrutiny and comment. To ease the transition and adapt to the ways of your host family, you will need to make some temporary, yet fundamental, compromises with who you are as an American and as an individual. You will possibly need to modify how you present yourself, even relative to core elements of your identity. For example, female trainees and Volunteers in Jordan are not able to exercise the independence available to them in the United States; Jewish Volunteers may not feel comfortable revealing their religion; political discussions will need to be handled with diplomacy; some of your personal beliefs or past experiences may best remain undisclosed. You must develop techniques and a personal strategy for coping with these and other limitations. Peace Corps staff will be available, of course, to help you feel your way, but the challenge will ultimately be your own.

Be aware that this exercise of discretion and judgment, as well as the requirement to limit some behavior, may create very real personal stress. For some, the impact of such stress will be higher than for others.

We advise you to learn as much as possible about Jordan before accepting this invitation. Use all the resources available to you and/or suggested by the Peace Corps to assess the challenges and evaluate the benefits of service as a Volunteer in Jordan. It is a marvelous country, with incredible diversity itself, presenting many opportunities for service and growth for any Volunteer. However, opportunities will be maximized when the adjustments required of you by Jordanian reality have, to the extent possible from afar, been realistically anticipated.

What Might A Volunteer Face?

The information below is intended to stimulate thought and discussion. Some of these points are country-specific, some are region-specific. It is important to recognize that these issues may or may not have an impact on your own Volunteer experience. Rather, they are listed to highlight things that one particular group or another may face. As you read, ask yourself, “How would I feel if that happened to me?” and “How could I help other Volunteers if this happened to them?”

Possible Issues for Female Volunteers

Jordan is a traditional, patriarchal culture. Though Jordanian women are gaining more and more authority in the public eye, there are still few women in top positions in government or the private sector. Women, irrespective of the deference shown to them within the family, are usually not given the public status and respect afforded men. You should understand that this is an essential element of a centuries-old society and culture. On the other hand, it is important to note that Jordanians enjoy a greater level of formal, legal, and institutional gender equity than many other Arab societies. While a major challenge for female Volunteers is a reduction in their independent lifestyle, they can still play an important role in modeling behavior that demonstrates to communities the extended capabilities of women. Gender and development activities are an integral part of Peace Corps/Jordan activities.

Female Volunteers may:

  • Find that a single woman living alone is contrary to the cultural norm.
  • Receive more unwanted and inappropriate attention from young Jordanian men than they would in the United States.
  • Experience the perception that they are “loose,” therefore, not afforded the respect that conservative Muslim women are given by men on the street.
  • Have to work harder than male Volunteers to gain the respect of host country colleagues in the workplace.
  • Need to keep a low social profile and practice discretion in public (e.g., smoking in public, drinking in bars, restrictions on dress) to avoid unwanted attention and an undesirable reputation.

Find satisfaction and acceptance in being a part of the “female world” of the community.

Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color

Though Jordanians themselves come from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, Volunteers of color may face challenges not faced by other Volunteers. Especially in traditional and isolated rural communities, they may experience extra frustration, even insult, in their work while dealing with rigid preconceptions and historical stereotypes. For example, since many of the domestic help in urban areas come from Asia (Philippines, Nepal, Sri Lanka), there is often a preconception that they are of a “lower class.” Volunteers of Asian heritatage may not fit into the common image Jordanians have of Americans and may be viewed with skepticism.

Volunteers of color may:

  • Be the only minority trainee or Volunteer within a particular program.
  • Work and live with individuals who have no experience or understanding of their culture.
  • Not receive sufficient personal support from other Volunteers.
  • Not find minority role models among Peace Corps country staff.

Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers

Age is respected in traditional Islamic societies. The views and opinions of senior members, men or women, will garner more respect and be considered with greater gravity than those of younger individuals. Deference to, and respect for, age is integral in this society. Younger Volunteers may have to work harder than their older colleagues to be accepted as professionals.

Senior Volunteers may:

  • Encounter frustrations during training in having their needs met for an effective learning environment.
  • Need to be more assertive in developing an effective, individual approach to Arabic studies.
  • Feel isolated within the Peace Corps community overseas—most Volunteers are in their 20s.
  • Not receive the necessary personal support from younger Volunteers.
  • Be reluctant to share personal, sexual, or health concerns.
  • Find that younger Volunteers look to them for advice and support. (Some seniors find this an enjoyable part of their Volunteer experience, while others choose not to fill this role.)


Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers

Homosexual Volunteers can expect to encounter difficulties. Jordanian society does not openly acknowledge homosexuality. In fact, homosexual behavior is illegal in Jordan and gay and lesbian rights are not protected under the Jordanian constitution. Homosexual Volunteers must be extremely discreet about their sexual orientation and may encounter particularly trying situations at work and in the community. Many choose not to make their sexual orientation public. Regardless of what is found in the community, Peace Corps is committed to providing support to all Volunteers, regardless of sexual orientation and will work with individuals to address their individual needs.

Gay, lesbian, or bisexual Volunteers may have to contend with:

  • Host country acceptance of homosexuality among nationals being different than their acceptance of homosexuality among foreigners.
  • Less support from other Volunteers for a homosexual lifestyle. Homosexual Volunteers may serve two years without meeting another gay Volunteer. Also, straight Volunteers and staff may not know how to offer needed support.
  • Constant questions about boyfriends or girlfriends, marriage, and sex. Wearing an “engagement ring” can help.
  • Most host country homosexuals will have migrated to larger cities while most Volunteers are posted at rural sites, where cultural difficulties may be greater. Relationships with homosexual host country nationals can happen, but as with all cross-cultural relationships, they may not be easy.
  • Civil liberties being either nonexistent or ignored; homosexuals may be hassled in clubs or on the street.
  • Machismo, i.e., talk of conquest(s), girl-watching, and dirty jokes.

For more information, visit the following website: www. lgbrpcv.org.

Possible Issues for Married Volunteers

While married couples have a built-in support system, they face other challenges that single Volunteers do not. Couples should be sure that they communicate honestly and respect each other’s feelings (likely to change on a daily basis and at a different pace for each of them).

Your roles will be different in this culture. A married man may be encouraged to be the more dominant member in the relationship or to have his wife serve him. He may be encouraged to make decisions independent of his spouse’s views and be ridiculed if he performs domestic tasks. A married woman may find herself in a less independent role than usual and be expected to perform all the domestic chores.

Additionally, competition may cause unease; one spouse may learn language or adjust faster than the other. There may be differences in job satisfaction and/or professional adaptation.

One spouse may be more enthusiastic about joining the Peace Corps, be better able to adapt to the new physical and/or cultural environmen, and be less or more homesick than the other. Younger Volunteers may look to couples for advice and support.

Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers

For many in America, faith and religion are distinct from other aspects of their lives. In Jordan, Islam shapes every aspect of daily life. This can call for adjustments on your part given the amount of interest or curiosity you’ll experience regarding your religious observance or the lack of privacy that will be accorded to this personal matter. All Volunteers need to think carefully about how they will respond to questions about religious beliefs and observance. Declarations of agnostic, atheistic, multi-theistic, or other beliefs will elicit responses varying from confusion to intolerance.

Jewish Volunteers, in particular, can expect to be challenged with respect to religion and politics. Jordan is an Arab country in which the predominant religion is Islam. Furthermore, more than 60 percent of Jordan’s population are Palestinians. While they reside in and are citizens of Jordan, Palestinians first came here as refugees from a land that currently forms parts of Israel. Particularly with respect to the Palestinian question, the Middle East has long been subject to conflict—ideological, religious, ethnic, political, and sometimes physical—between the Arab states and Israel. Jordan and Israel signed a peace treaty in 1994. However, there are still very few Jews in Jordan except for some members of the expatriate community and no opportunities for public worship.

For many Jordanians, being Jewish equates with Zionism, and they assume that all Americans (Jewish and non-Jewish) are pro-Israel, a political position not generally accepted in Jordan. As a result, if you are Jewish and your religious beliefs or background become known, your efficacy and safety as a Volunteer could be compromised. For non-observant Christians, people may wonder (directly or indirectly) whether you are Jewish. Peace Corps recognizes that there are pros and cons to whatever coping strategy a Volunteer chooses, and we encourage you to consider each of your options carefully. Although the Peace Corps will support all Volunteers’ decisions regarding revealing their religion, most Jewish Volunteers have not felt comfortable doing so.