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

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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.
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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 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.
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Our diversity helps us accomplish that goal. In other ways, however, it poses challenges. In Mali, 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 Mali.  
  
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.
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Outside of Mali’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 be a misconception, such as the belief that all Americans are rich and Caucasian. The people of Mali are justly known for their generous hospitality to foreigners; however, members of the community in which you will live may display a range of reactions to cultural differences that you present.  
  
To ease the transition and adapt to life in 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.
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To ease the transition and adapt to life in Mali, you may need to make some temporary, yet fundamental compromises in how you present yourself as an American and as an individual. For example, female trainees and Volunteers may not be able to exercise the independence available to them in the United States; political discussions need to be handled with great care; and some of your personal beliefs may best remain undisclosed. You will need to develop techniques and personal strategies for coping with these and other limitations. The Peace Corps staff will lead diversity and sensitivity discussions during pre-service training and will be on call to provide support, but the challenge ultimately will be your own.  
  
===Overview of Diversity in Madagascar===
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===Overview of Diversity in Mali ===
  
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.
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Trainees from less represented groups should come prepared to cope with being one of a few or possibly the only senior, African American, Native American, Hispanic American, Asian American, gay, or lesbian in their training group because the group of Volunteers in Mali is currently fairly homogenous: relatively young, Caucasian, and middle class. Yet Volunteers from less represented groups serve with the same high levels of effectiveness and satisfaction as other Volunteers.  
  
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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The Peace Corps staff in Mali 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 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.  
  
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.
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===What Might a Volunteer Face? ===
 
 
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 ====
 
====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.  
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Mali has a traditional, patriarchal society. Female Volunteers may be surprised by the extent to which community and domestic roles are defined along gender lines and how little control they have over this. Although women are becoming more visible, men generally hold positions of greater authority in the workplace, in the community, and in the home. This strong tradition can present challenges for female Volunteers, especially those in the agriculture and natural resource management projects, where they may be seen as taking on a typically “male” role. In addition, single women generally do not have the status and respect that come with marriage and motherhood. Thus, female Volunteers may find it challenging to have their ideas recognized and respected by both women and men.  
  
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.
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====Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color ====
  
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Although Malian society can be conservative, Volunteers generally find Malians to be hospitable and accepting of people with a wide variety of backgrounds. Nevertheless, Malians may have preconceived notions of Americans based on the kind of information available in Mali about Westerners, which comes mainly from television, movies, magazines, and local news reports, which often represent a limited view of American diversity. For example, Asian Americans are often called Chinois (Chinese) regardless of their actual background, and African Americans may not be considered Americans.
  
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====Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers ====
  
====Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color====
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Given their conservative values, homosexuality is not likely to be tolerated by the general Malian population. It will probably be impossible to be open about your sexual orientation and maintain a positive working relationship with members of your community. Other Volunteers and the Peace Corps staff will provide support, but you will find it very difficult to be open outside of that circle.
  
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.
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'''See also:''' Articles about Mali on the National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Peace Corps Alumni Association website at http://www.lgbrpcv.org/articles.htm Peace Corps recruiters can also send you a packet of helpful information.
  
 
====Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers ====
 
====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
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The high regard for seniors in Malian society lends support to senior Volunteers’ effectiveness at work. They, in turn, are able to find ways to use their extensive experience to assist their communities. However, seniors often comment that they feel a lack of camaraderie with other, mostly much younger, Volunteers. And the three months of pre-service training can be particularly frustrating for seniors because of the rigid schedule, classroom setting, and issues of integration with other trainees in the group. Language learning may present an additional challenge. However, most senior Volunteers find living and working at their sites to be very rewarding.  
 
 
 
 
 
====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====
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====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.
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Volunteers do not report negative reactions from their Malian colleagues about their religious beliefs. The majority of Malians are generally very tolerant of religions other than Islam. Proselytizing by Volunteers is not permitted, and it is wise to avoid confrontations over religious issues.  
  
====Possible Issues for Volunteers With Disabilities====
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====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.
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As a disabled Volunteer in Mali, you may find that you face a special set of challenges. There are few services available for people with disabilities and local support is likely to be inadequate to accommodate a physically challenged Volunteer.  
  
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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, to perform a full tour of Volunteer service in Mali without unreasonable risk of harm to yourself or interruption of your service. Peace Corps/Mali 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:Madagascar]]
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[[Category:Mali]]

Revision as of 23:22, 12 March 2009

Diversity and cross-cultural issues in [[{{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Mali| |5}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Mali| |6}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Mali| |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 Mali| |5}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Mali| |6}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Mali| |7}}]]
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  • [[Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Mali| |5}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Mali| |6}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Mali| |7}}]]
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See also:
[[Category:{{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Mali| |5}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Mali| |6}} {{#explode:Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Mali| |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 Mali, 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 Mali.

Outside of Mali’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 be a misconception, such as the belief that all Americans are rich and Caucasian. The people of Mali are justly known for their generous hospitality to foreigners; however, members of the community in which you will live may display a range of reactions to cultural differences that you present.

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

Overview of Diversity in Mali

Trainees from less represented groups should come prepared to cope with being one of a few or possibly the only senior, African American, Native American, Hispanic American, Asian American, gay, or lesbian in their training group because the group of Volunteers in Mali is currently fairly homogenous: relatively young, Caucasian, and middle class. Yet Volunteers from less represented groups serve with the same high levels of effectiveness and satisfaction as other Volunteers.

The Peace Corps staff in Mali 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 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.

What Might a Volunteer Face?

Possible Issues for Female Volunteers

Mali has a traditional, patriarchal society. Female Volunteers may be surprised by the extent to which community and domestic roles are defined along gender lines and how little control they have over this. Although women are becoming more visible, men generally hold positions of greater authority in the workplace, in the community, and in the home. This strong tradition can present challenges for female Volunteers, especially those in the agriculture and natural resource management projects, where they may be seen as taking on a typically “male” role. In addition, single women generally do not have the status and respect that come with marriage and motherhood. Thus, female Volunteers may find it challenging to have their ideas recognized and respected by both women and men.

Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color

Although Malian society can be conservative, Volunteers generally find Malians to be hospitable and accepting of people with a wide variety of backgrounds. Nevertheless, Malians may have preconceived notions of Americans based on the kind of information available in Mali about Westerners, which comes mainly from television, movies, magazines, and local news reports, which often represent a limited view of American diversity. For example, Asian Americans are often called Chinois (Chinese) regardless of their actual background, and African Americans may not be considered Americans.

Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers

Given their conservative values, homosexuality is not likely to be tolerated by the general Malian population. It will probably be impossible to be open about your sexual orientation and maintain a positive working relationship with members of your community. Other Volunteers and the Peace Corps staff will provide support, but you will find it very difficult to be open outside of that circle.

See also: Articles about Mali on the National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Peace Corps Alumni Association website at http://www.lgbrpcv.org/articles.htm Peace Corps recruiters can also send you a packet of helpful information.

Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers

The high regard for seniors in Malian society lends support to senior Volunteers’ effectiveness at work. They, in turn, are able to find ways to use their extensive experience to assist their communities. However, seniors often comment that they feel a lack of camaraderie with other, mostly much younger, Volunteers. And the three months of pre-service training can be particularly frustrating for seniors because of the rigid schedule, classroom setting, and issues of integration with other trainees in the group. Language learning may present an additional challenge. However, most senior Volunteers find living and working at their sites to be very rewarding.

Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers

Volunteers do not report negative reactions from their Malian colleagues about their religious beliefs. The majority of Malians are generally very tolerant of religions other than Islam. Proselytizing by Volunteers is not permitted, and it is wise to avoid confrontations over religious issues.

Possible Issues for Volunteers With Disabilities

As a disabled Volunteer in Mali, you may find that you face a special set of challenges. There are few services available for people with disabilities and local support is likely to be inadequate to accommodate a physically challenged Volunteer.

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, to perform a full tour of Volunteer service in Mali without unreasonable risk of harm to yourself or interruption of your service. Peace Corps/Mali 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.