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

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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 ensure that our cultural and ethnic diversity is reflected in the Volunteer corps. 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 its mandate to share the face of America with host countries, the Peace Corps is making special efforts to see that all of America’s richness is reflected in the Volunteer corps. More Americans of color are serving in today’s Peace Corps than at any time in recent years.  Differences in race, ethnic background, age, religion, and sexual orientation are expected and welcomed among our Volunteers. Part of the Peace Corps’ mission is to help dispel any notion that Americans are all of one origin or race and to establish that each of us is as American as the other despite our many differences.  
  
Our diversity helps us accomplish that goal. In other ways, however, our diversity poses challenges. In Benin, as in other Peace Corps host countries, Volunteer behavior, lifestyles, background, and beliefs will be judged in a cultural context that may be very different from our own. Certain personal perspectives or characteristics considered familiar and commonly accepted in the United States may be quite uncommon, unacceptable, or even repressed in certain host countries.  
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Our diversity helps us accomplish that goal. In other ways, however, it poses challenges. In Ukraine, as in other Peace Corps host countries, Volunteers’ behavior, lifestyle, background, and beliefs are judged in a cultural context very different from their own. Certain personal perspectives or characteristics commonly accepted in the United States may be quite uncommon, unacceptable, or even repressed in Ukraine.  
  
Outside of the capital, residents of rural communities have had relatively little direct exposure to other cultures, races, religions, and lifestyles. What is advertised as “typical” cultural behavior or norms may also 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. Foreigners justly know the people of Benin for their generous hospitality; however, members of the community in which you will live may display a range of reactions to differences that you present. We ask you to be supportive of one another.  
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Outside of Ukraine’s capital, residents of rural communities have had relatively little direct exposure to other cultures, races, religions, and lifestyles. What people view as typical American behavior or norms may also be a misconception, such as the belief that all Americans are rich and have blond hair and blue eyes. The people of Ukraine are justly known for their generous hospitality to foreigners; however, members of the community in which you will live may display a range of reactions to cultural differences that you present.  
  
In order to ease the transition and adapt to the ways of your host country, you may need to make some temporary yet fundamental compromises with who you are as an American and as an individual. For example, women trainees and Volunteers will likely not be able to exercise the independence available to them in the United States; political discussions will 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 limits. Staff and peer support network Volunteers 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 Ukraine, you may need to make some temporary, yet fundamental, compromises in how you present yourself as an American and as an individual. For example, female trainees and Volunteers may not be able to exercise the independence available to them in the United States; political discussions need to be handled with great care; and some of your personal beliefs may best remain undisclosed. You will need to develop techniques and personal strategies for coping with these types of challenges. The Peace Corps staff will lead diversity and sensitivity discussions during pre-service training and will be on call to provide support, but the challenge ultimately will be your own.  
  
===What Might A Volunteer Face?===
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===Overview of Diversity in Ukraine ===
  
====Possible Issues for Female Volunteers====
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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.
  
Benin has a traditional, patriarchal culture. However, at the community level, Beninese are learning to accept women who take professional roles or who live independently of their families. Current Volunteers advise that service is more difficult for female Volunteers due to verbal sexual harassment and the misconceptions that exist concerning male-female relationships. It is important to note that the same challenges exist for Beninese women, particularly in the schools. Peace Corps/Benin has a zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment on the job. Should you encounter harassment on the job, you should inform the country director immediately.
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===What Might a Volunteer Face? ===
  
Female Volunteers may find that living alone raises questions about their marital status. Some find that saying that they are married helps limit sexual harassment. Others have felt that they have to work harder than male Volunteers to gain the respect of host country colleagues in the workplace.  
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The comments in this section, which come from a cross-section of Volunteers who have served in Ukraine, are intended to stimulate thought and discussion. They reflect the fact that each person’s experience of Peace Corps service is unique.  
  
Females may encounter unwanted attention in public. While we cannot control this, we can help you develop strategies for coping. Do not hesitate to insist on learning strategies during your pre-service training. Some female Volunteers have found they need to keep a low social profile and practice discretion in public (e.g., not smoking in public or drinking in bars) to avoid developing an undesirable reputation in their community.
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====Possible Issues for Female Volunteers ====
  
====Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color====
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At first, gender roles in Ukraine can be difficult to understand and accept. Ukrainian culture may appear to be discriminatory. Ukrainian women constitute more than 50 percent of the total population, and working women outnumber nonworking women. Although men and women may receive equal pay for equal work, women are underrepresented in positions of power and often are not promoted as readily as men to managerial positions. These gender differences, sometimes overt and sometimes subtle, can present problems for Volunteers in job situations. 
  
In rural sites or villages, Volunteers are usually the only foreign resident and will receive extra attention regardless of their racial or ethnic background. Volunteers of color will encounter a wide range of cross-cultural issues in Benin.
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====Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color ====
  
Most Beninese are used to seeing African Americans.  Furthermore, because of the country’s historical role and involvement in slavery, some Beninese feel some affinity with African Americans and will often joke with them or believe that they come from Benin or another African country. Beninese will sometimes assume that you speak a local language because of your skin color. Depending on your personality, you may interpret this assumption as welcome or you may find it distressing. Remember, you will not be able to readily identify the ethnicity of a Beninese by his or her language. Similarly, you should not expect that a Beninese will know that you are American, even though you are a Peace Corps Volunteer.  
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Racial and ethnic minorities in Ukraine—primarily Poles, Hungarians, Crimean Tatars, and Greeks—make up about 5 percent of the total population. They are not always well-organized and are not usually recognized as separate communities. Crimean Tatars are the exception, as they are becoming a more significant facet of the population in Crimea.  
  
Like African Americans, Asian-American Volunteers have expressed frustration and disappointment at being asked their nationality. When they answer “Asian-American,” some Beninese react with surprise or disbelief, saying they didn't know there were people of Asian descent in America. In Benin, there are Chinese, Indian, and Lebanese communities and Volunteers of Asian heritage may be confused with merchant classes in the eyes of some Beninese, especially in urban areas. Some Asian-American Volunteers have found that some Beninese will call them “Chinese” no matter their origins. They may be teased by children and asked if they know kung fu or karate.  
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In spite of the racial diversity of the former Soviet Union and Ukraine’s close contacts with former socialist countries in Asia and Africa, most Ukrainians have not had personal interactions with people of other races. They often assume that African-American or Asian-American Volunteers are university students from Africa or Asia rather than Americans. Thus minority Volunteers may be stopped to show their identification papers more frequently than other Volunteers, particularly in larger cities where they are not known. In addition, “skinhead” groups in some larger cities have reportedly targeted individuals of African or Asian heritage in the past.
  
====Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers====
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====Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers ====
  
Respect comes with age in Benin. Younger Volunteers might have to work harder than older Volunteers to be accepted as professionals by their Beninese colleagues. Older Volunteers might find that almost too much is expected of them because of their age.  
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Older people in Ukraine are generally respected and seen as sources of wisdom. So older Volunteers often have a greater degree of credibility upon arrival at their sites. The slow pace of change in a developing country, however, may prove challenging for some individuals. In addition, certain conditions in Ukraine—uneven pavement, multistory buildings without elevators, tobacco smoke and other air pollutants, and lack of amenities—combine to make life more demanding than in the United States.
  
Within the Peace Corps community, older Volunteers may sometimes feel isolated, because most Volunteers in Benin are in their 20s. Older Volunteers may have difficulty finding emotional support among their fellow Volunteers. They may find that younger Volunteers expect older ones to “mother” them. (Some seniors find this a very enjoyable part of their experience, but others choose not to fill this role.)
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====Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers ====
  
Older Volunteers who are used to living independent lives may at first feel frustrated by the fact that younger Beninese want to do things for them. However, many seniors come to accept this as a sign of respect and enjoy the role of providing wisdom rather than physical assistance.  
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Homosexuality was decriminalized in Ukraine in 1991. However, this often is not acknowledged, and civil rights related to sexual orientation are limited. The gay communities in Kyiv and other large cities are becoming more open, and in 1999 Nash Mir, the first gay nongovernmental organization, received official state registration. Some gay and lesbian Volunteers in Ukraine have found that being open about their sexual orientation at their sites has had a negative impact on their effectiveness.
  
====Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers====
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====Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers ====
  
Benin’s sexual mores are conservative and you are expected to respect them. Many people in Benin still believe that gay and lesbian relationships are wrong, and that such relationships do not exist in their country. Although you may see signs of physical intimacy among men and women in Benin, this is not necessarily a sign of a gay or lesbian relationship. Engaging in homosexual sex is against the law in Benin. Some gay and lesbian Volunteers in Benin report that they are not able to be open about their sexual orientation. In the past, gay and lesbian Volunteers have formed their own support group. You may find more helpful information at http://www.lgbrpcv.org, a website affiliated with the National Peace Corps Association that provides specific information on serving in the Peace Corps as a gay or lesbian Volunteer.
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Many Ukrainians have little knowledge or understanding of non-Christian faiths. Religious observances are prevalent in schools and communities, particularly in western Ukraine.  There are Polish and Greek Catholic churches and Ukrainian Orthodox churches in most communities. Most big cities have large numbers of Christian missionaries, particularly from evangelical denominations. Volunteers are sometimes mistaken for missionaries, and the Peace Corps is careful to maintain a separation from such groups. If you do not attend church, Ukrainians may demand that you explain why, but it is possible to politely decline when invited to attend someone’s church if you choose not to.  
  
'''See also:''' Articles about Benin on the National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Peace Corps Alumni Association website at http://www.lgbrpcv.org/articles.htm
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====Possible Issues for Volunteers With Disabilities====
  
====Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers====
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As a disabled Volunteer in Ukraine, you may face a special set of challenges. In Ukraine, as in other parts of the world, some people hold prejudicial attitudes about individuals with disabilities and may discriminate against them. And there is very little of the infrastructure to accommodate individuals with disabilities that has been developed in the United States.
  
Volunteers are frequently asked about their religious affiliation and may be invited to attend a community church. In some circles, there will be a tendency to think that all Americans are Protestants. Volunteers not in the practice of attending church may be challenged to explain their reluctance, but it is possible to politely decline if the church or religious practice is not your choice. Most Volunteers facing these issues have found effective ways to cope with these additional challenges and have come to feel quite at home in Benin.  
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That being said, as part of the medical clearance process, the Peace Corps Office of Medical Services determined that you were physically and emotionally capable, with or without reasonable accommodation, to perform a full tour of Volunteer service in Ukraine without unreasonable risk of harm to yourself or interruption of your service. The Peace Corps/Ukraine staff will work with disabled Volunteers to make reasonable accommodations for them in their training, housing, job sites, or in other areas, to enable them to serve safely and effectively.  
  
====Possible Issues for Volunteers with Disabilities====
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[[Category:Ukraine]]
 
 
As part of the clearance process, the Peace Corps Office of Medical Services determines if disabled candidates can be selected if they are physically and emotionally capable of performing a full tour of Volunteer service in Benin without harm to themselves or interruption of their service. The Peace Corps/Benin staff will work with disabled Volunteers to make reasonable accommodations for training, housing, job sites and other aspects of their service.
 
 
 
That being said, a disabled Volunteer in Benin will face a special set of challenges. In Benin, as in other parts of the world, some people may hold prejudicial attitudes toward individuals with disabilities. Benin has virtually no physical infrastructure to accommodate people with disabilities.
 
 
 
Many of the beggars in Benin are disabled people who have no skills. Some organizations provide training for the disabled, but it is usually limited to arts and crafts. Disabled Volunteers would thus face challenges in overcoming negative stereotypes and difficult physical conditions. However, they also have an opportunity to be inspirational role models for disabled Beninese and to encourage changes in attitude and infrastructure in their communities.
 
 
 
 
 
[[Category:Benin]]
 

Revision as of 17:18, 11 January 2010

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

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

Our diversity helps us accomplish that goal. In other ways, however, it poses challenges. In Ukraine, as in other Peace Corps host countries, Volunteers’ behavior, lifestyle, background, and beliefs are judged in a cultural context very different from their own. Certain personal perspectives or characteristics commonly accepted in the United States may be quite uncommon, unacceptable, or even repressed in Ukraine.

Outside of Ukraine’s capital, residents of rural communities have had relatively little direct exposure to other cultures, races, religions, and lifestyles. What people view as typical American behavior or norms may also be a misconception, such as the belief that all Americans are rich and have blond hair and blue eyes. The people of Ukraine are justly known for their generous hospitality to foreigners; however, members of the community in which you will live may display a range of reactions to cultural differences that you present.

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

Overview of Diversity in Ukraine

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?

The comments in this section, which come from a cross-section of Volunteers who have served in Ukraine, are intended to stimulate thought and discussion. They reflect the fact that each person’s experience of Peace Corps service is unique.

Possible Issues for Female Volunteers

At first, gender roles in Ukraine can be difficult to understand and accept. Ukrainian culture may appear to be discriminatory. Ukrainian women constitute more than 50 percent of the total population, and working women outnumber nonworking women. Although men and women may receive equal pay for equal work, women are underrepresented in positions of power and often are not promoted as readily as men to managerial positions. These gender differences, sometimes overt and sometimes subtle, can present problems for Volunteers in job situations.

Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color

Racial and ethnic minorities in Ukraine—primarily Poles, Hungarians, Crimean Tatars, and Greeks—make up about 5 percent of the total population. They are not always well-organized and are not usually recognized as separate communities. Crimean Tatars are the exception, as they are becoming a more significant facet of the population in Crimea.

In spite of the racial diversity of the former Soviet Union and Ukraine’s close contacts with former socialist countries in Asia and Africa, most Ukrainians have not had personal interactions with people of other races. They often assume that African-American or Asian-American Volunteers are university students from Africa or Asia rather than Americans. Thus minority Volunteers may be stopped to show their identification papers more frequently than other Volunteers, particularly in larger cities where they are not known. In addition, “skinhead” groups in some larger cities have reportedly targeted individuals of African or Asian heritage in the past.

Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers

Older people in Ukraine are generally respected and seen as sources of wisdom. So older Volunteers often have a greater degree of credibility upon arrival at their sites. The slow pace of change in a developing country, however, may prove challenging for some individuals. In addition, certain conditions in Ukraine—uneven pavement, multistory buildings without elevators, tobacco smoke and other air pollutants, and lack of amenities—combine to make life more demanding than in the United States.

Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers

Homosexuality was decriminalized in Ukraine in 1991. However, this often is not acknowledged, and civil rights related to sexual orientation are limited. The gay communities in Kyiv and other large cities are becoming more open, and in 1999 Nash Mir, the first gay nongovernmental organization, received official state registration. Some gay and lesbian Volunteers in Ukraine have found that being open about their sexual orientation at their sites has had a negative impact on their effectiveness.

Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers

Many Ukrainians have little knowledge or understanding of non-Christian faiths. Religious observances are prevalent in schools and communities, particularly in western Ukraine. There are Polish and Greek Catholic churches and Ukrainian Orthodox churches in most communities. Most big cities have large numbers of Christian missionaries, particularly from evangelical denominations. Volunteers are sometimes mistaken for missionaries, and the Peace Corps is careful to maintain a separation from such groups. If you do not attend church, Ukrainians may demand that you explain why, but it is possible to politely decline when invited to attend someone’s church if you choose not to.

Possible Issues for Volunteers With Disabilities

As a disabled Volunteer in Ukraine, you may face a special set of challenges. In Ukraine, as in other parts of the world, some people hold prejudicial attitudes about individuals with disabilities and may discriminate against them. And there is very little of the infrastructure to accommodate individuals with disabilities that has been developed in the United States.

That being said, as part of the medical clearance process, the Peace Corps Office of Medical Services determined that you were physically and emotionally capable, with or without reasonable accommodation, to perform a full tour of Volunteer service in Ukraine without unreasonable risk of harm to yourself or interruption of your service. The Peace Corps/Ukraine staff will work with disabled Volunteers to make reasonable accommodations for them in their training, housing, job sites, or in other areas, to enable them to serve safely and effectively.