Difference between pages "Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Ukraine" and "FAQs about Peace Corps in Lesotho"

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{{FAQs by country}}
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 ===
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You will receive reporting instructions from the Office of Staging approximately two weeks before your staging. In the meantime, here are some answers to questions frequently asked by new trainees.
  
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.
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I have just been accepted for an assignment in Lesotho; is there anything I should be doing to get ready?
  
===What Might a Volunteer Face? ===
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Submit an updated copy of your résumé to the country desk (send e-mail to lesotho@peacecorps.gov) along with your personal statement as requested in the invitation kit.  Complete and submit your passport application to SATO Travel. Be sure you have completed all of your medical and dental requirements. You must be medically cleared before you arrive at the staging! If you are not sure of your clearance status, contact the Office of Medical Services.
  
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.  
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We strongly encourage you to take advantage of the resources suggested in this Welcome Book. You will receive several weeks of intensive instruction in-country, but the more familiar you are with Lesotho before arriving there, the less difficulty you will have adjusting to the new culture.  
  
====Possible Issues for Female Volunteers ====
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===How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Lesotho? ===
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Refer to your welcome packet before you go.
  
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.
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Lesotho is designated a winter country... and it does get cold. So it gets Peace Corps winter country allowance for bags.
  
====Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color ====
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Most airlines have baggage size and weight limits and assess charges for transport of baggage that exceeds those limits.
  
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.  
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The Peace Corps has its own size and weight limits and will not pay the cost of transport for baggage that exceeds these limits. The Peace Corps’ allowance is two checked pieces of luggage with combined dimensions of both pieces not to exceed 107 inches (length + width + height) and a carry-on bag with dimensions of no more than 45 inches. Checked baggage pounds total with a maximum weight allowance of 50 pounds for any one bag.  
  
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.
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Peace Corps Volunteers are not allowed to take pets, weapons, explosives, radio transmitters (shortwave receivers are permitted, and are a good source of news), automobiles, or motorcycles to their overseas assignments. Do not pack flammable materials or liquids such as lighter fluid, cleaning solvents, hair spray, or aerosol containers. This is an important safety precaution.
  
====Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers ====
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===What is the electric current in Lesotho? ===
  
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.
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Electrical appliances run on 240 volts. Your laptop should be able to handle it. Check the adapter. There is a distinct possibility that you will not have electricity at your site, we recommend that you wait to purchase any electrical appliances you may need until you have seen your particular living situation. That being said, nearly all recent groups have brought laptops and found ways to charge them. Most shops, or at least shops in district capital cities, will have ways to charge your laptop and cell phone. For the most rural volunteers - the longer the battery life the better.
  
====Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers ====
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===How much money should I bring? ===
  
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.
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Volunteers are expected to live at the same level as the people in their community. They are given a settling-in allowance and a monthly living allowance, which should cover their expenses. Often Volunteers bring additional money for vacation travel to other countries. Credit cards and traveler’s checks are preferable to cash. If you choose to bring extra money, bring the amount that will suit your own travel plans and needs.  
  
====Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers ====
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===When can I take vacation?===
  
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.  
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Each Volunteer begins accruing two vacation days per month of service after being sworn in. During your nine-week training period, the first three months of service, and the last three months of service, you are not eligible to take vacation.  
  
====Possible Issues for Volunteers With Disabilities====
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These first months in your site are important for establishing good relations with the community and host agency. For this reason, you are encouraged to remain at your site. Volunteers often state an interest in traveling and learning about other cultures as one of the reasons for joining the Peace Corps.  Therefore, the Peace Corps encourages Volunteers to use their vacation time to travel around Lesotho and other countries in the region, rather than vacationing in the United States.
  
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.
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===Will my belongings be covered by insurance? ===
  
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.  
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The Peace Corps does not provide insurance coverage for personal effects; Volunteers are ultimately responsible for the safekeeping of their personal belongings. However, you can purchase personal property insurance before you leave. If you wish, you may contact your own insurance company; additionally, insurance application forms will be provided, and we encourage you to consider them carefully. Volunteers should not ship or take valuable items overseas. Jewelry, watches, radios, cameras, and expensive appliances are subject to loss, theft, and breakage, and in many places, satisfactory maintenance and repair services are not available.  
  
[[Category:Ukraine]]
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===Do I need an international driver’s license? ===
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Volunteers in Lesotho do not need to get an international driver’s license because they are prohibited from operating privately owned motorized vehicles. Most urban travel is by bus or taxi. Rural travel ranges from buses and crowded minibuses to trucks and lots of walking. On very rare occasions, a Volunteer may be asked to drive a vehicle. Should this occur, the Volunteer may obtain a local driver’s license.  Your U.S. driver’s license will facilitate the process, so bring it with you just in case.
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Bring your US drivers license if you plan to travel outside of Lesotho during vacations. A plain U.S. License will be accepted in all of the countries in Southern Africa. Again, Lesotho Volunteers are typically prohibited from driving in Lesotho.
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===Should I bring gifts for friends and my host family? ===
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While this is not required, some Volunteers have brought gifts to share. A token of friendship is sufficient; do not get carried away. Some gift suggestions include household items (sheets or tablecloths in American styles); knickknacks for the house; photos, books, or calendars of American scenes; souvenirs from your area; hard candies that will not melt or spoil; pens, crayons and colored pencils for children, or photos to give away. You will live with a host family during part of your training, and it is a common practice to bring them small gifts.
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===Where will my site assignment be when I finish training? ===
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This is the most common question asked of the Lesotho desk by trainees. Peace Corps/Lesotho staff will make site assignments after they get to know each trainee, usually during the last few weeks of training. This reflects our desire to make the best match possible between an individual’s skills, experience, and interests and the specific needs at each site.
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===Can I call home from Lesotho? ===
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Most phone service is cellular, and landlines are rare to non-existent outside of Masseru. Cell phones with sim cards (pay as you go) are readily available for purchase and affordable on a living allowance. Calls to America are not cheap, so look for cheap ways for your families to call you. International phone service, by cell phone, to and from Lesotho is reasonably good in the cities and most sites have cell service with limited cellular internet. Calling cards may be used from some telephones—check with your international long-distance company to see if it provides services in Lesotho. You can buy international calling cards in the capital city and use a "public phone" or a land line at Peace Corps Lesotho headquarters but this is inconvenient. Depending on your assignment, You may not be able to receive calls from home while at your site. (Most sites are covered but not all, and cellular service for regions can be dropped for frustratingly long periods. However, in general, most volunteers buy a pay-as-you-go cell phone, and are able to make and receive calls.  Calling America gets expensive very quickly (read: pay-as-you-go), but text messaging is the way of the future! Make sure your family members at home have international text message options on their phones.
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[[Category:Lesotho]]

Revision as of 02:32, 9 September 2013

FAQs about Peace Corps
  • How much luggage am I allowed to bring?
  • What is the electric current?
  • How much money should I bring?
  • When can I take vacation and have people visit me?
  • Will my belongings be covered by insurance?
  • Do I need an international driver’s license?
  • What should I bring as gifts for my host family?
  • Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be?
  • How can my family contact me in an emergency?
  • Can I call home?
  • Should I bring a cellular phone with me?
  • Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?
...and more...

For information see Welcomebooks



You will receive reporting instructions from the Office of Staging approximately two weeks before your staging. In the meantime, here are some answers to questions frequently asked by new trainees.

I have just been accepted for an assignment in Lesotho; is there anything I should be doing to get ready?

Submit an updated copy of your résumé to the country desk (send e-mail to lesotho@peacecorps.gov) along with your personal statement as requested in the invitation kit. Complete and submit your passport application to SATO Travel. Be sure you have completed all of your medical and dental requirements. You must be medically cleared before you arrive at the staging! If you are not sure of your clearance status, contact the Office of Medical Services.

We strongly encourage you to take advantage of the resources suggested in this Welcome Book. You will receive several weeks of intensive instruction in-country, but the more familiar you are with Lesotho before arriving there, the less difficulty you will have adjusting to the new culture.

How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Lesotho?

Refer to your welcome packet before you go.

Lesotho is designated a winter country... and it does get cold. So it gets Peace Corps winter country allowance for bags.

Most airlines have baggage size and weight limits and assess charges for transport of baggage that exceeds those limits.

The Peace Corps has its own size and weight limits and will not pay the cost of transport for baggage that exceeds these limits. The Peace Corps’ allowance is two checked pieces of luggage with combined dimensions of both pieces not to exceed 107 inches (length + width + height) and a carry-on bag with dimensions of no more than 45 inches. Checked baggage pounds total with a maximum weight allowance of 50 pounds for any one bag.

Peace Corps Volunteers are not allowed to take pets, weapons, explosives, radio transmitters (shortwave receivers are permitted, and are a good source of news), automobiles, or motorcycles to their overseas assignments. Do not pack flammable materials or liquids such as lighter fluid, cleaning solvents, hair spray, or aerosol containers. This is an important safety precaution.

What is the electric current in Lesotho?

Electrical appliances run on 240 volts. Your laptop should be able to handle it. Check the adapter. There is a distinct possibility that you will not have electricity at your site, we recommend that you wait to purchase any electrical appliances you may need until you have seen your particular living situation. That being said, nearly all recent groups have brought laptops and found ways to charge them. Most shops, or at least shops in district capital cities, will have ways to charge your laptop and cell phone. For the most rural volunteers - the longer the battery life the better.

How much money should I bring?

Volunteers are expected to live at the same level as the people in their community. They are given a settling-in allowance and a monthly living allowance, which should cover their expenses. Often Volunteers bring additional money for vacation travel to other countries. Credit cards and traveler’s checks are preferable to cash. If you choose to bring extra money, bring the amount that will suit your own travel plans and needs.

When can I take vacation?

Each Volunteer begins accruing two vacation days per month of service after being sworn in. During your nine-week training period, the first three months of service, and the last three months of service, you are not eligible to take vacation.

These first months in your site are important for establishing good relations with the community and host agency. For this reason, you are encouraged to remain at your site. Volunteers often state an interest in traveling and learning about other cultures as one of the reasons for joining the Peace Corps. Therefore, the Peace Corps encourages Volunteers to use their vacation time to travel around Lesotho and other countries in the region, rather than vacationing in the United States.

Will my belongings be covered by insurance?

The Peace Corps does not provide insurance coverage for personal effects; Volunteers are ultimately responsible for the safekeeping of their personal belongings. However, you can purchase personal property insurance before you leave. If you wish, you may contact your own insurance company; additionally, insurance application forms will be provided, and we encourage you to consider them carefully. Volunteers should not ship or take valuable items overseas. Jewelry, watches, radios, cameras, and expensive appliances are subject to loss, theft, and breakage, and in many places, satisfactory maintenance and repair services are not available.

Do I need an international driver’s license?

Volunteers in Lesotho do not need to get an international driver’s license because they are prohibited from operating privately owned motorized vehicles. Most urban travel is by bus or taxi. Rural travel ranges from buses and crowded minibuses to trucks and lots of walking. On very rare occasions, a Volunteer may be asked to drive a vehicle. Should this occur, the Volunteer may obtain a local driver’s license. Your U.S. driver’s license will facilitate the process, so bring it with you just in case. Bring your US drivers license if you plan to travel outside of Lesotho during vacations. A plain U.S. License will be accepted in all of the countries in Southern Africa. Again, Lesotho Volunteers are typically prohibited from driving in Lesotho.

Should I bring gifts for friends and my host family?

While this is not required, some Volunteers have brought gifts to share. A token of friendship is sufficient; do not get carried away. Some gift suggestions include household items (sheets or tablecloths in American styles); knickknacks for the house; photos, books, or calendars of American scenes; souvenirs from your area; hard candies that will not melt or spoil; pens, crayons and colored pencils for children, or photos to give away. You will live with a host family during part of your training, and it is a common practice to bring them small gifts.

Where will my site assignment be when I finish training?

This is the most common question asked of the Lesotho desk by trainees. Peace Corps/Lesotho staff will make site assignments after they get to know each trainee, usually during the last few weeks of training. This reflects our desire to make the best match possible between an individual’s skills, experience, and interests and the specific needs at each site.

Can I call home from Lesotho?

Most phone service is cellular, and landlines are rare to non-existent outside of Masseru. Cell phones with sim cards (pay as you go) are readily available for purchase and affordable on a living allowance. Calls to America are not cheap, so look for cheap ways for your families to call you. International phone service, by cell phone, to and from Lesotho is reasonably good in the cities and most sites have cell service with limited cellular internet. Calling cards may be used from some telephones—check with your international long-distance company to see if it provides services in Lesotho. You can buy international calling cards in the capital city and use a "public phone" or a land line at Peace Corps Lesotho headquarters but this is inconvenient. Depending on your assignment, You may not be able to receive calls from home while at your site. (Most sites are covered but not all, and cellular service for regions can be dropped for frustratingly long periods. However, in general, most volunteers buy a pay-as-you-go cell phone, and are able to make and receive calls. Calling America gets expensive very quickly (read: pay-as-you-go), but text messaging is the way of the future! Make sure your family members at home have international text message options on their phones.