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

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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.
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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.  
  
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.
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Our diversity helps us accomplish that goal, however, in other ways it poses challenges. In Micronesia, 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 Micronesia.  
  
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.  
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In Micronesia, residents of lagoon and outer islands 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 have blond hair and blue eyes. Micronesians 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.  
  
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To ease the transition and adapt to life in Micronesia, 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 will find that they do not have the same level of independence as they do 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.
  
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.
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===Overview of Diversity in Micronesia===
  
===Overview of Diversity in Mauritania ===
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The Peace Corps staff in Micronesia recognizes adjustment issues that come with diversity and will endeavor to provide support and guidance. During pre-service training, sessions will be held to discuss diversity and coping mechanisms. We look forward to having male and female Volunteers from a variety of cultures, religions, ethnic groups, ages, 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.
  
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.
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===What Might a Volunteer Face?===
  
===What Might a Volunteer Face? ===
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====Possible Issues for Female Volunteers====
  
====Possible Issues for Female Volunteers ====
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Micronesia is a traditional and predominantly Christian society. Palau is probably the most modern of the five major islands, and female Volunteers posted there find that they may be able to jog and even wear shorts (long ones) without causing undue attention. In FSM, however, local women are more traditional and almost never wear shorts or pants. In addition, there are strict rules about dating, which are apt to be imposed on female Volunteers by their host families.
  
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 countriesMauritanian 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.  
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Micronesians have had little experience with women who have professional roles or who live independently of their families. Micronesian women, for the most part, support the strict gender role distinctions, and female Volunteers often find that they are expected to participate in family chores such as doing laundryMost female Volunteers feel that serving in Micronesia is much more difficult for females than for males. Clearly, one of the larger challenges of living in Micronesia is coping effectively and constructively with the different status of women and men and the different standards of behavior to which they are held.  
  
====Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color ====
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Depending on where they are placed, female Volunteers may find that being alone increases the possibility of being harassed. Besides receiving more unwanted and inappropriate attention from men in Micronesia than men in the United States, female Volunteers may have to work harder than male Volunteers to gain the professional respect of colleagues in the workplace. Female Volunteers may also experience resentment from Micronesian women for attitudes and behaviors that the women see as traditionally male.
  
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.  
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Peace Corps/Micronesia encourages female Volunteers to keep a low social profile and practice discretion in public (e.g., not smoking or drinking) to help avoid unwanted attention and an undesirable reputation.  
  
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.
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====Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color====
  
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.  
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Because America has been involved with the affairs of Micronesia for more than half a century, Micronesians are somewhat used to Americans and the complexity and diversity of American society. That is not to say that you will not find prejudice toward people of color here. Because of the long and complex relationships between Micronesia and Asian nations, Volunteers of Asian heritage often report feeling less welcome than other Volunteers.  
  
====Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers ====
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====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.  
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Age is greatly respected in Micronesia, and older Volunteers are likely to be taken more seriously and given greater leeway. Although seniors are in the minority among Volunteers, they find that their age is a definite plus in Micronesia. However, the loss of personal privacy and independence associated with living with a host family may be particularly difficult.  
  
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.  
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It is not uncommon for younger Volunteers to look to older Volunteers for advice and support. Some seniors find this a very enjoyable part of their Volunteer experience, while others choose not to fill this role. Overall, senior Volunteers are highly valued for the wealth of experience they bring to their communities and counterparts.  
  
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).  
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Pre-service training may present special challenges for older trainees. You may encounter frustration in having your specific needs met in areas such as timing, presentation, and style, and you may need to be assertive in developing an effective individual approach to language learning.  
  
====Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers ====
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====Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers====
  
As homosexuality is forbidden in the Koran, most Mauritanians believe that same-sex relationships are wrongWhile 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.  
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Many local churches view homosexuality as going against Christian norms, and many Micronesians believe that gay and lesbian relationships do not exist among MicronesiansHomosexual or bisexual behavior is not likely to be accepted in your host community and you may be hassled in public places or in the workplace if you are open about your sexual orientation. That being said, there are certainly gay and lesbian Micronesians, and some of them are well integrated into Micronesian society. You may serve for two years without meeting another gay Volunteer. Lesbians may have to deal with constant questions about boyfriends, marriage, and sex (as do all women). Wearing an “engagement ring” may help. Gay men may have to deal with talk of conquests, girl watching, and dirty jokes.  
  
'''See also:''' Articles about Mauritania on the National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Peace Corps Alumni Association website at http://www.lgbrpcv.org/articles.htm
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====Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers====
  
====Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers ====
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Half of the population in Micronesia is Roman Catholic and half belongs to a variety of Protestant denominations. Volunteers are required to live with a host family, so many will be expected to attend religious services with their family. In Kosrae, no activities are permitted on Sunday except those associated with the Sabbath. Most Volunteers find effective ways to deal with this issue and come to feel quite at home in Micronesia.
  
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.
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====Possible Issues for Volunteers with Disabilities====
  
====Possible Issues for Volunteers With Disabilities ====
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As a Volunteer with a special need or disability, you may find that you face a special set of challenges. In Micronesia, as in other parts of the world, some people may hold prejudicial attitudes toward individuals with special needs and may discriminate against them. But Micronesia has stringent laws against such discrimination and receives federal funds from the United States for various social and educational programs that support the disabled. Still, there is very little of the infrastructure to accommodate individuals with disabilities that has been developed in the United States.
  
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.  
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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 Micronesia without unreasonable risk of harm to yourself or interruption of your service. Peace Corps/Micronesia 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:Mauritania]]
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[[Category:Micronesia]]

Revision as of 23:22, 12 March 2009

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

In Micronesia, residents of lagoon and outer islands 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 have blond hair and blue eyes. Micronesians 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 Micronesia, 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 will find that they do not have the same level of independence as they do 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 Micronesia

The Peace Corps staff in Micronesia recognizes adjustment issues that come with diversity and will endeavor to provide support and guidance. During pre-service training, sessions will be held to discuss diversity and coping mechanisms. We look forward to having male and female Volunteers from a variety of cultures, religions, ethnic groups, ages, 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

Micronesia is a traditional and predominantly Christian society. Palau is probably the most modern of the five major islands, and female Volunteers posted there find that they may be able to jog and even wear shorts (long ones) without causing undue attention. In FSM, however, local women are more traditional and almost never wear shorts or pants. In addition, there are strict rules about dating, which are apt to be imposed on female Volunteers by their host families.

Micronesians have had little experience with women who have professional roles or who live independently of their families. Micronesian women, for the most part, support the strict gender role distinctions, and female Volunteers often find that they are expected to participate in family chores such as doing laundry. Most female Volunteers feel that serving in Micronesia is much more difficult for females than for males. Clearly, one of the larger challenges of living in Micronesia is coping effectively and constructively with the different status of women and men and the different standards of behavior to which they are held.

Depending on where they are placed, female Volunteers may find that being alone increases the possibility of being harassed. Besides receiving more unwanted and inappropriate attention from men in Micronesia than men in the United States, female Volunteers may have to work harder than male Volunteers to gain the professional respect of colleagues in the workplace. Female Volunteers may also experience resentment from Micronesian women for attitudes and behaviors that the women see as traditionally male.

Peace Corps/Micronesia encourages female Volunteers to keep a low social profile and practice discretion in public (e.g., not smoking or drinking) to help avoid unwanted attention and an undesirable reputation.

Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color

Because America has been involved with the affairs of Micronesia for more than half a century, Micronesians are somewhat used to Americans and the complexity and diversity of American society. That is not to say that you will not find prejudice toward people of color here. Because of the long and complex relationships between Micronesia and Asian nations, Volunteers of Asian heritage often report feeling less welcome than other Volunteers.

Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers

Age is greatly respected in Micronesia, and older Volunteers are likely to be taken more seriously and given greater leeway. Although seniors are in the minority among Volunteers, they find that their age is a definite plus in Micronesia. However, the loss of personal privacy and independence associated with living with a host family may be particularly difficult.

It is not uncommon for younger Volunteers to look to older Volunteers for advice and support. Some seniors find this a very enjoyable part of their Volunteer experience, while others choose not to fill this role. Overall, senior Volunteers are highly valued for the wealth of experience they bring to their communities and counterparts.

Pre-service training may present special challenges for older trainees. You may encounter frustration in having your specific needs met in areas such as timing, presentation, and style, and you may need to be assertive in developing an effective individual approach to language learning.

Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers

Many local churches view homosexuality as going against Christian norms, and many Micronesians believe that gay and lesbian relationships do not exist among Micronesians. Homosexual or bisexual behavior is not likely to be accepted in your host community and you may be hassled in public places or in the workplace if you are open about your sexual orientation. That being said, there are certainly gay and lesbian Micronesians, and some of them are well integrated into Micronesian society. You may serve for two years without meeting another gay Volunteer. Lesbians may have to deal with constant questions about boyfriends, marriage, and sex (as do all women). Wearing an “engagement ring” may help. Gay men may have to deal with talk of conquests, girl watching, and dirty jokes.

Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers

Half of the population in Micronesia is Roman Catholic and half belongs to a variety of Protestant denominations. Volunteers are required to live with a host family, so many will be expected to attend religious services with their family. In Kosrae, no activities are permitted on Sunday except those associated with the Sabbath. Most Volunteers find effective ways to deal with this issue and come to feel quite at home in Micronesia.

Possible Issues for Volunteers with Disabilities

As a Volunteer with a special need or disability, you may find that you face a special set of challenges. In Micronesia, as in other parts of the world, some people may hold prejudicial attitudes toward individuals with special needs and may discriminate against them. But Micronesia has stringent laws against such discrimination and receives federal funds from the United States for various social and educational programs that support the disabled. Still, there is very little of the infrastructure to accommodate individuals with disabilities that has been developed in the United States.

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 Micronesia without unreasonable risk of harm to yourself or interruption of your service. Peace Corps/Micronesia 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.