Difference between pages "Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Liberia" and "Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Mauritania"

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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 fulfilling its mandate to share the face of America with
+
In other ways, however, our diversity poses challenges. In Mauritania, 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.
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 thoroughly American as the other despite our
 
many differences.
 
  
Our diversity helps us accomplish that goal. In other
+
Outside of Mauritania’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 that all Americans are rich and have blond hair and blue eyes. The people of Mauritania 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.  
ways, however, it poses challenges. In Liberia, 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
 
Liberia. Homosexuality is one of these areas. It exists but is
 
not openly expressed.
 
  
To ease the transition and adapt to life in Liberia, 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 training and will be on call to provide
 
support, but the challenge ultimately will be your own.
 
  
===Overview of Diversity in Liberia===
+
In order to ease the transition and adapt to life in Mauritania, 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 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.
  
The Peace Corps staff in Liberia recognizes the adjustment
+
===Overview of Diversity in Mauritania ===
issues that come with diversity and will endeavor to provide
 
support and guidance. During 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 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?===
+
The Peace Corps staff in Mauritania 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 become part of a diverse group of Americans who take pride in supporting one another and demonstrating the richness of American culture.
  
====Possible Issues for Female Volunteers====
+
===What Might a Volunteer Face? ===
  
Female Volunteers who are single are often considered an
+
====Possible Issues for Female Volunteers ====
oddity because most women, particularly in rural areas, are
 
married, some with children, by the time they are in their
 
20s. Single women also face what in the United States would
 
be considered inappropriate advances from male colleagues,
 
supervisors, and acquaintances. Gender roles have changed
 
drastically over the years in the United States; it can be a
 
challenge to adapt to a culture with more traditional roles
 
and to know how to effectively set boundaries. Unwanted
 
attention, and even harassment, can be one of the greatest
 
frustrations as a female PCV.
 
  
Above and beyond traditional gender roles and possible
+
Many female Volunteers expect the worst when coming to serve in an Islamic republic. Based upon the Western media’s conception of the role of women in Islam, many Volunteers anticipate a situation that is much worse than what actually exists. Women in Mauritania have a great deal of freedom and many more rights than women in other Islamic countries.  Mauritanian women have held ministerial positions and other influential roles in the national government. However, Mauritanian society is still very much male dominated. Female Volunteers will find that many men (for cultural reasons) refuse to shake their hands. They might also find that they need to work harder than male Volunteers to get respect from counterparts and other community members. In addition, as a result of stereotypes perpetuated by Western movies and the inferences made about women living alone, female Volunteers may find themselves the regular target of overt sexual advances and marriage proposals.  
harassment, is the possibility of sexual violence. The rate of
 
sexual violence against women is high in Liberia. Rape was
 
used as a weapon of war and the government has launched
 
campaigns to address this problem with the hope of reducing
 
its occurrence. Domestic violence is also a possibility in this
 
post-conflict country. According to police, most acts of sexual
 
violence occur between people who know each other. Female
 
Volunteers must exercise caution with their consumption
 
of alcohol and going out in the evening unaccompanied.
 
Volunteers will learn what is and is not acceptable in the
 
Liberian culture, such as when it is and is not advisable to
 
invite men into their homes. Often, Volunteers must take an
 
even more conservative approach than their Liberian friends
 
and colleagues.
 
  
Strategies to deal with these issues are discussed in training,
+
====Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color ====
and the Peace Corps staff can offer help in resolving
 
any problems.
 
  
Volunteers should report any concerns or incidents to the
+
The most common challege for African Americans living in Mauritania is constantly being mistaken for a Pulaar, Soninke, or Wolof person. While this sometimes makes Volunteer service easier, it can also cause a great deal of frustration.  
Peace Corps medical officer (PCMO) or country director
 
(CD) immediately.
 
  
====Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color====
+
These Volunteers are often asked what family they are from (larger family units are a source of identity for these three ethnic groups), and host country nationals are often shocked when the Volunteer does not speak their language. A more negative aspect of life in Mauritania is the racism that some Volunteers encounter. A minority of Mauritanians believe that dark skin is not a desirable feature, and African-American Volunteers have experienced problems as a result.
  
African-American Volunteers may be treated according to
+
Because of the presence of Chinese doctors and development workers and Korean fishermen in Mauritania, Asian-American Volunteers are sometimes mistaken for them and often have to deal with the negative reactions that come from the insensitive behavior of other foreigners.  
local norms because it is assumed they are African. However,
 
once an American accent is detected, Liberians realize the
 
Volunteer is American rather than Liberian. African-American
 
Volunteers may have a different experience in Liberia than
 
in other West African countries due to the history of America
 
and Liberia and because Liberians understand more about the
 
history of African Americans.
 
  
Asian-American Volunteers have expressed frustration that
+
====Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers ====
some Liberians will call them “Chinese” no matter how they
 
explain their ethnic origins or status as Asian Americans.
 
They may be teased by children and asked if they know kung
 
fu or karate. While in the capital, they might be confused with
 
Chinese workers who are involved in different
 
infrastructure projects.
 
  
====Possible Issues for Volunteers of Varying Ages====
+
Respect comes with age in Mauritania. Younger Volunteers may have to work harder than their older colleagues to be accepted as professionals. While this often proves to be an unexpected bonus for older Volunteers, many struggle with the fact that the majority of Volunteers in Mauritania are in their twenties (the average age is 23), and they sorely miss having an American peer group.
  
In Liberian culture, people respect age as bringing wisdom
+
In training, senior Volunteers may experience frustration with the basic level of technical skills being taught. Senior Volunteers may have to be assertive in developing an effective, individual approach to language learning.  
and experience. Volunteers in their 20s sometimes find they
 
have to make an extra effort to be accepted as professional
 
colleagues. Older Volunteers, in contrast, are automatically
 
accorded respect. In turn, older Volunteers might find
 
that almost too much is expected of them because of their
 
age; or conversely older Volunteers who are used to living
 
independent lives may at first feel frustrated by the fact that
 
younger Liberians want to do things for them.
 
  
====Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers====
+
During service, senior Volunteers may not receive desired personal support from younger Volunteers. They may also find that younger Volunteers look to them for advice and support (while some Volunteers find this to be a very enjoyable part of their service, others find the role uncomfortable or burdensome).
  
Most cultures in Liberia consider homosexuality taboo.
+
====Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers ====
Homosexuality certainly exists in Liberia, but there is no open
 
homosexual community.
 
  
Volunteers who are lesbian, along with female Volunteers who
+
As homosexuality is forbidden in the Koran, most Mauritanians believe that same-sex relationships are wrong.  While this may not be surprising, what is confusing is the fact that Mauritanian men and women tend to be more physically affectionate with members of their own gender than with the opposite sex. This should not be taken as a sign that homosexual relationships are accepted. Even the most open-minded Mauritanians judge gays and lesbians rather harshly. Many even refuse to admit that homosexuality exists in this country. While this is certainly not the case, most gay and lesbian Volunteers have found that they are not able to be open about their sexual orientation. Another challenge is finding peer support. While Peace Corps/Mauritania is committed to supporting diversity, it is a relatively small program, and gay, lesbian, and bisexual Volunteers may serve for two years without meeting other openly gay Volunteers.  
are heterosexual, will have to deal with constant questions
 
about boyfriends, marriage, and sex. Some female Volunteers
 
wear an “engagement ring” to avoid unwanted attention; while
 
this practice might be helpful, it might also
 
create complications.
 
  
Volunteers may not be able to freely discuss their sexual
+
'''See also:''' Articles about Mauritania on the National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Peace Corps Alumni Association website at http://www.lgbrpcv.org/articles.htm
orientation with new friends and family; this can obviously be
 
very difficult. Peace Corps staff is aware of this challenge and
 
will offer support as you navigate through your new culture.
 
  
====Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers====
+
====Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers ====
  
Liberia is tolerant of diverse religions, therefore most
+
Mauritania is an Islamic state. While the majority of Mauritanians are curious about and respectful of religious differences, most Volunteers will experience some religious harassment during their two years of service. This harassment can range from good-natured or subtle pressure to convert to Islam to open hostility toward non-Muslims and/or Westerners. These situations are generally frustrating for Volunteers, but the majority find constructive ways of coping with them and feel that living in an Islamic republic gives them a unique perspective that they would not otherwise have had.  
Volunteers find Liberia welcoming of their religious
 
preferences. Volunteers not accustomed to practicing a
 
religion may be challenged to explain their reluctance and
 
invited to attend local events. Most Volunteers find ways to
 
address these issues and feel quite at home in the religious
 
diversity and tolerance of Liberia.
 
  
====Possible Issues for Volunteers With Disabilities====
+
====Possible Issues for Volunteers With Disabilities ====
  
As part of the medical clearance process, the Peace Corps
+
For the most part, public facilities in Mauritania are unequipped to accommodate persons with disabilities.  However, as part of the medical clearance process, the 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 Mauritania without unreasonable risk of harm to yourself or interruption of your service. The Peace Corps/Mauritania staff will work with any disabled Volunteers to make reasonable accommodations for them in training, housing, job sites, or other areas to enable them to serve safely and effectively.  
Office of Medical Services determined you were physically
 
and emotionally capable, with or without reasonable
 
accommodations, to perform a full tour of Volunteer service
 
in Liberia without unreasonable risk of harm to yourself
 
or interruption of service. The Peace Corps/Liberia staff
 
will work with disabled Volunteers to make reasonable
 
accommodations for them in training, housing, jobsites, or
 
other areas to enable them to serve safely and effectively.
 
  
As a result of the protracted war, there are many amputees
+
 
in Liberia, with a concentration in Monrovia. Many support
+
[[Category:Mauritania]]
themselves by begging, so a Volunteer with disabilities may
 
receive more requests for assistance.
 

Revision as of 23:22, 12 March 2009

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

Outside of Mauritania’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 that all Americans are rich and have blond hair and blue eyes. The people of Mauritania 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 Mauritania, 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 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 Mauritania

The Peace Corps staff in Mauritania 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 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

Many female Volunteers expect the worst when coming to serve in an Islamic republic. Based upon the Western media’s conception of the role of women in Islam, many Volunteers anticipate a situation that is much worse than what actually exists. Women in Mauritania have a great deal of freedom and many more rights than women in other Islamic countries. Mauritanian women have held ministerial positions and other influential roles in the national government. However, Mauritanian society is still very much male dominated. Female Volunteers will find that many men (for cultural reasons) refuse to shake their hands. They might also find that they need to work harder than male Volunteers to get respect from counterparts and other community members. In addition, as a result of stereotypes perpetuated by Western movies and the inferences made about women living alone, female Volunteers may find themselves the regular target of overt sexual advances and marriage proposals.

Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color

The most common challege for African Americans living in Mauritania is constantly being mistaken for a Pulaar, Soninke, or Wolof person. While this sometimes makes Volunteer service easier, it can also cause a great deal of frustration.

These Volunteers are often asked what family they are from (larger family units are a source of identity for these three ethnic groups), and host country nationals are often shocked when the Volunteer does not speak their language. A more negative aspect of life in Mauritania is the racism that some Volunteers encounter. A minority of Mauritanians believe that dark skin is not a desirable feature, and African-American Volunteers have experienced problems as a result.

Because of the presence of Chinese doctors and development workers and Korean fishermen in Mauritania, Asian-American Volunteers are sometimes mistaken for them and often have to deal with the negative reactions that come from the insensitive behavior of other foreigners.

Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers

Respect comes with age in Mauritania. Younger Volunteers may have to work harder than their older colleagues to be accepted as professionals. While this often proves to be an unexpected bonus for older Volunteers, many struggle with the fact that the majority of Volunteers in Mauritania are in their twenties (the average age is 23), and they sorely miss having an American peer group.

In training, senior Volunteers may experience frustration with the basic level of technical skills being taught. Senior Volunteers may have to be assertive in developing an effective, individual approach to language learning.

During service, senior Volunteers may not receive desired personal support from younger Volunteers. They may also find that younger Volunteers look to them for advice and support (while some Volunteers find this to be a very enjoyable part of their service, others find the role uncomfortable or burdensome).

Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers

As homosexuality is forbidden in the Koran, most Mauritanians believe that same-sex relationships are wrong. While this may not be surprising, what is confusing is the fact that Mauritanian men and women tend to be more physically affectionate with members of their own gender than with the opposite sex. This should not be taken as a sign that homosexual relationships are accepted. Even the most open-minded Mauritanians judge gays and lesbians rather harshly. Many even refuse to admit that homosexuality exists in this country. While this is certainly not the case, most gay and lesbian Volunteers have found that they are not able to be open about their sexual orientation. Another challenge is finding peer support. While Peace Corps/Mauritania is committed to supporting diversity, it is a relatively small program, and gay, lesbian, and bisexual Volunteers may serve for two years without meeting other openly gay Volunteers.

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

Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers

Mauritania is an Islamic state. While the majority of Mauritanians are curious about and respectful of religious differences, most Volunteers will experience some religious harassment during their two years of service. This harassment can range from good-natured or subtle pressure to convert to Islam to open hostility toward non-Muslims and/or Westerners. These situations are generally frustrating for Volunteers, but the majority find constructive ways of coping with them and feel that living in an Islamic republic gives them a unique perspective that they would not otherwise have had.

Possible Issues for Volunteers With Disabilities

For the most part, public facilities in Mauritania are unequipped to accommodate persons with disabilities. However, as part of the medical clearance process, the 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 Mauritania without unreasonable risk of harm to yourself or interruption of your service. The Peace Corps/Mauritania staff will work with any disabled Volunteers to make reasonable accommodations for them in training, housing, job sites, or other areas to enable them to serve safely and effectively.