Difference between pages "Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Kiribati" and "Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Madagascar"

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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 different races, ethnic backgrounds, ages, religions, and sexual orientations are serving in today’s Peace Corps than any time in recent years.  These diversities 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.  
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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. In other ways, however, it poses challenges. In Kiribati, 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 commonly accepted in the United States may be quite uncommon, unacceptable, or even repressed.  
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Our diversity helps us accomplish that goal. In other ways, however, it poses challenges. In Madagascar, 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 commonly accepted in the United States may be quite uncommon, unacceptable, or even repressed in Madagascar.
  
Outside of Tarawa, residents of the outer islands 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 Kiribati 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.  
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Outside of Madagascar’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 Madagascar 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.
  
In order to ease the transition and adapt to life in Kiribati, you may need to make some temporary, yet fundamental compromises in how you present yourself as an American and as an individual. For example, female trainees and Volunteers may not be able to exercise the independence available to them in the United States; political discussions need to be handled with great care; and some of your personal beliefs may best remain undisclosed. You will need to develop techniques and personal strategies for coping with these and other limitations. The Peace Corps staff will lead diversity and sensitivity discussions during your pre-service training and will be on call to provide support, but the challenge ultimately will be your own.  
+
To ease the transition and adapt to life in Madagascar, you may need to make some temporary, yet fundamental compromises in how you present yourself as an American and as an individual. For example, female trainees and Volunteers may not be able to exercise the independence available to them in the United States; political discussions need to be handled with great care; and some of your personal beliefs may best remain undisclosed. You will need to develop techniques and personal strategies for coping with these and other limitations. The Peace Corps staff will lead diversity and sensitivity discussions during your pre-service training and will be on call to provide support, but the challenge ultimately will be your own.
  
===Overview of Diversity in Kiribati ===
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===Overview of Diversity in Madagascar===
  
The Peace Corps staff in Kiribati 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, and ages 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.  
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The Peace Corps/Madagascar program has benefited from having Volunteers from a variety of cultures, religions, ethnic groups, and ages and is firmly committed to maintaining this type of diversity in its program. Our primary goal in this regard is to ensure that each of our Volunteers has an equal opportunity to enjoy a rewarding and positive experience during the two years of service to Madagascar.
  
===What Might a Volunteer Face?===
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All Volunteers, regardless of background, will find themselves addressed frequently as a vazaha, or foreigner. Madagascar is a traditional, patriarchal culture, and current Volunteers emphasize that serving here is more difficult for females than for males. Among the challenges of living and working in Madagascar is coping effectively and constructively with the differing status of women and men and the different standards of behavior to which they are held.
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Age is positively viewed in Madagascar. Younger Volunteers may have to work harder than their older colleagues to be accepted as professionals. Conversely, older Volunteers may at times feel isolated within the Peace Corps community in Madagascar as they tend to be few in number.
  
====Possible Issues for Female Volunteers ====
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In Madagascar, as in other traditional societies, members of American ethnic minorities may have less freedom to “be themselves” than they do in the United States. It may be difficult for them to find or establish a support network, and they are likely to encounter prejudicial beliefs or expectations on the part of some Malagasy (e.g., that they will learn the local language and adapt to the climate and culture more easily than other Volunteers; that they are not as technically competent as other Volunteers; or that they are not “real” Americans).
  
Female Volunteers encounter different and more cultural challenges in Kiribati than male Volunteers. There is a distinct lack of the independence and freedom that you have in the U.S. You cannot go to most places alone, and you may not be able to walk around outside without others in tow.  
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Americans of all backgrounds, however, have dealt with these issues and have had productive and fulfilling experiences in Madagascar. They have also brought new depth to the second goal of the Peace Corps, which is to promote a better understanding of the American people by the Malagasy people they live and work with.
  
But these restrictions are for your own safety, and they apply to I-Kiribati women as well. When away from home, female Volunteers should walk with other Volunteers or with neighbors, especially at night, to increase their safety.
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===What Might a Volunteer Face?===
  
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====Possible Issues for Female Volunteers ====
  
====Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color ====
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There is great variance in Malagasy views of gender equality.  In remote villages, gender roles are clearly defined, while in larger towns, gender roles are less strictly characterized.
  
The I-Kiribati are very tolerant of and even curious about racial differences, but they do tend to group people into categories based on appearance. All Caucasians are thought to be from America or Australia. All African Americans are thought to be from Africa, the Solomon Islands, or other Pacific countries. All Asians are thought to be from China.  All Hispanic people are usually thought to be half-Caucasian and half I-Kiribati. It may take some effort to explain that some countries have many races and cultures and that people who look similar may come from different continents. There are still some negative feelings among older I-Kiribati toward the Japanese, which date back to the Japanese occupation of some of the Gilbert Islands in World War II. However, this animosity is diminishing, and the Japanese now living in Kiribati have helped ease the tensions created by the war.
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But wherever they live and work, the behavior of female Volunteers will be more closely scrutinized and more often criticized than that of their male peers. Although the Peace Corps emphasizes understanding of and sensitivity to other cultures, it may occasionally be necessary to explain why you believe something or behave a certain way. Female Volunteers should expect frequent questions from host country counterparts and friends regarding their marital status and whether they have children.
  
=====Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers====
 
  
Age is greatly respected in Kiribati. Older Volunteers in Kiribati are often very successful because the people respect their wisdom and experience. One difficulty for senior Volunteers (as for many younger Volunteers) is getting used to sitting on a hard floor for hours on end. Chairs are not used on outer islands. But the I-Kiribati generally understand that some people have physical restrictions and may need to shift positions regularly.
 
  
====Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers====
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====Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color====
  
While the I-Kiribati are very tolerant where race is concerned, homosexuality is not well understood. Homosexuality is not viewed as negatively in Kiribati as it is in some other cultures. They acknowledge there are homosexuals in their society, but these individuals are not always well accepted.  There are both lesbians and gay men in Kiribati, and although some aspects of their behaviors are acceptable, there is no acknowledgement of their sexual orientation. Gay men tend to be treated as women in Kiribati culture and can be seen performing “women’s” tasks. Being open with your sexuality can affect your ability to integrate into a Kiribati community. Therefore, gay or lesbian Volunteers need be willing to adhere to cultural norms, which likely means that being “out” publicly is not advised.  
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There is great ethnic and racial diversity among Malagasy.  Having been settled by people from Malaysia, India and other parts of Asia, Africa, and Europe, Madagascar features a mosaic of cultures and lifestyles that can shift from region to region and sometimes from village to village. While the Malagasy strive to maintain a harmonious relationship with one another, there are some tensions among the different groups. In particular, the dominant group living around the capital is considered somewhat suspect by the people living on the coast. Volunteers can expect to be treated very politely but need to be aware that behind the politeness may lie some unstated ill will.
  
====Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers====
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====Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers ====
  
Most I-Kiribati are affiliated with a Christian denomination and go to church most Sundays. They respect other religions, although they do not generally know much about them. If you are asked to attend a celebration at a church, it does not mean you are being recruited as a new member—just that you have been invited to celebrate a special day with friends. It is recommended that you attend different churches to keep yourself accessible to all groups and not be seen as preferring one group over another.
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The Malagasy people are respectful in all interactions, yet they reserve a special place for senior citizens, so much so that it may be difficult for Malagasy to help guide an older Volunteer in culturally appropriate behavior for fear of seeming disrespectful
  
====Possible Issues for Volunteers with Disabilities ====
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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 accommodations, of performing a full tour of Volunteer service in Kiribati without reasonable risk of harm to yourself or interruption of your service. Peace Corps/Kiribati 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.
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====Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers====
  
There have not been many Volunteers in Kiribati with a disability, although a past group included a Volunteer with cerebral palsy. Because of the I-Kiribatis’ natural curiosity about differences, she was frequently stared at. Although this made her uncomfortable, she learned to accept it with time and began to create the first organization for people with disabilities in Kiribati.  
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Gay, lesbian, and bisexual Volunteers need to know that Madagascar has a very strong cultural taboo against homosexuality. However, homosexuality is accepted among foreigners who visit the country. Homosexuality is not illegal per se—it is not even mentioned in Malagasy law—but public displays of behavior associated with homosexuality can affect a Volunteer’s acceptance into the culture by confirming his or her “vazaha-ness.
  
====Possible Issues for Married Volunteers ====
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'''See also:''' Articles about Madagascar on the National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Peace Corps Alumni Association website at http://www.lgbrpcv.org/articles.htm
  
Being a married couple in the Peace Corps has its advantages and challenges. It helps to have someone by your side to share your experience with, but there are also cultural expectations that can cause stress in a marriage. The most important thing to remember is that you are in a foreign country with new rules. As long as you remain open-minded, you will have a successful service. The possible issues listed below will also depend on the size of the community you will be living in. Sometimes, one spouse may be more enthusiastic about joining Peace Corps, be better able to adapt to the new physical and/or cultural environment, or be less or more homesick than the other.
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====Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers====
  
Your roles may be different in a new culture. A married man may be encouraged to be the more dominant member in the relationship or to make decisions independent of his spouse’s views or 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 is accustomed. She may 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). She may also be expected to perform “traditional” domestic chores such as cooking or cleaning.  
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Whether or not you practice a particular religion, you will probably be exposed to religious practices that are different from those in the United States. Although the country has many Christians and some Muslims, animism is the dominant religious belief. The practices of fady, a ritualized system of taboos and cultural mores combined with ancestral veneration, have tremendous significance for Malagasy, though there will, of course, be differences in the degree depending on your location. Be prepared to tolerate views and practices very different from your own.
  
Competition may cause difficulties for couples as one spouse may learn faster than the other (e.g., language or job skills).  There may be differences in job satisfaction and/or different needs.
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====Possible Issues for Volunteers With Disabilities====
  
Younger Volunteers may look to couples for advice and support. Married couples are likely to be treated with more respect because the community sees marriage as a responsibility. You may be asked why you do not have children.  
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The Malagasy are enormously tolerant and respectful, and it is inherent in their culture that they be helpful to all. This carries over into their treatment of people with disabilities, even though there is very little infrastructure in the country to accommodate individuals with disabilities. Nevertheless, 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 Madagascar without unreasonable risk to yourself or interruption of your service. Peace Corps/ Madagascar 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.
  
  
[[Category:Kiribati]]
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[[Category:Madagascar]]

Revision as of 12:38, 30 March 2014

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

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

Our diversity helps us accomplish that goal. In other ways, however, it poses challenges. In Madagascar, 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 commonly accepted in the United States may be quite uncommon, unacceptable, or even repressed in Madagascar.

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

Overview of Diversity in Madagascar

The Peace Corps/Madagascar program has benefited from having Volunteers from a variety of cultures, religions, ethnic groups, and ages and is firmly committed to maintaining this type of diversity in its program. Our primary goal in this regard is to ensure that each of our Volunteers has an equal opportunity to enjoy a rewarding and positive experience during the two years of service to Madagascar.

All Volunteers, regardless of background, will find themselves addressed frequently as a vazaha, or foreigner. Madagascar is a traditional, patriarchal culture, and current Volunteers emphasize that serving here is more difficult for females than for males. Among the challenges of living and working in Madagascar is coping effectively and constructively with the differing status of women and men and the different standards of behavior to which they are held.

Age is positively viewed in Madagascar. Younger Volunteers may have to work harder than their older colleagues to be accepted as professionals. Conversely, older Volunteers may at times feel isolated within the Peace Corps community in Madagascar as they tend to be few in number.

In Madagascar, as in other traditional societies, members of American ethnic minorities may have less freedom to “be themselves” than they do in the United States. It may be difficult for them to find or establish a support network, and they are likely to encounter prejudicial beliefs or expectations on the part of some Malagasy (e.g., that they will learn the local language and adapt to the climate and culture more easily than other Volunteers; that they are not as technically competent as other Volunteers; or that they are not “real” Americans).

Americans of all backgrounds, however, have dealt with these issues and have had productive and fulfilling experiences in Madagascar. They have also brought new depth to the second goal of the Peace Corps, which is to promote a better understanding of the American people by the Malagasy people they live and work with.

What Might a Volunteer Face?

Possible Issues for Female Volunteers

There is great variance in Malagasy views of gender equality. In remote villages, gender roles are clearly defined, while in larger towns, gender roles are less strictly characterized.

But wherever they live and work, the behavior of female Volunteers will be more closely scrutinized and more often criticized than that of their male peers. Although the Peace Corps emphasizes understanding of and sensitivity to other cultures, it may occasionally be necessary to explain why you believe something or behave a certain way. Female Volunteers should expect frequent questions from host country counterparts and friends regarding their marital status and whether they have children.


Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color

There is great ethnic and racial diversity among Malagasy. Having been settled by people from Malaysia, India and other parts of Asia, Africa, and Europe, Madagascar features a mosaic of cultures and lifestyles that can shift from region to region and sometimes from village to village. While the Malagasy strive to maintain a harmonious relationship with one another, there are some tensions among the different groups. In particular, the dominant group living around the capital is considered somewhat suspect by the people living on the coast. Volunteers can expect to be treated very politely but need to be aware that behind the politeness may lie some unstated ill will.

Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers

The Malagasy people are respectful in all interactions, yet they reserve a special place for senior citizens, so much so that it may be difficult for Malagasy to help guide an older Volunteer in culturally appropriate behavior for fear of seeming disrespectful


Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers

Gay, lesbian, and bisexual Volunteers need to know that Madagascar has a very strong cultural taboo against homosexuality. However, homosexuality is accepted among foreigners who visit the country. Homosexuality is not illegal per se—it is not even mentioned in Malagasy law—but public displays of behavior associated with homosexuality can affect a Volunteer’s acceptance into the culture by confirming his or her “vazaha-ness.”

See also: Articles about Madagascar on the National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Peace Corps Alumni Association website at http://www.lgbrpcv.org/articles.htm

Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers

Whether or not you practice a particular religion, you will probably be exposed to religious practices that are different from those in the United States. Although the country has many Christians and some Muslims, animism is the dominant religious belief. The practices of fady, a ritualized system of taboos and cultural mores combined with ancestral veneration, have tremendous significance for Malagasy, though there will, of course, be differences in the degree depending on your location. Be prepared to tolerate views and practices very different from your own.

Possible Issues for Volunteers With Disabilities

The Malagasy are enormously tolerant and respectful, and it is inherent in their culture that they be helpful to all. This carries over into their treatment of people with disabilities, even though there is very little infrastructure in the country to accommodate individuals with disabilities. Nevertheless, 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 Madagascar without unreasonable risk to yourself or interruption of your service. Peace Corps/ Madagascar 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.