Difference between pages "Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Zambia" and "FAQs about Peace Corps in Peru"

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{{FAQs by country}}
In fulfilling the Peace Corps’ mandate to share the face of America with our host countries, the Peace Corps is making special efforts to see that all of America’s richness is reflected in the Volunteer population. 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 welcome 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 Zambia, 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 considered familiar and commonly accepted in the United States may be quite uncommon, unacceptable, or even repressed in certain host countries.
 
  
Outside of Zambia’s 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. The people of Zambia 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. We ask that you be supportive of one another.
 
  
To ease transition and adapt to the ways of your host country, 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 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. 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 Zambia===
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===How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Peru? ===
  
The Peace Corps staff in Zambia recognizes the 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 sexual orientations, and hope that you will become part of a diverse group of Americans who will take pride in supporting one another and demonstrating the richness of American culture.  
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You will most likely be flying American Airlines or Delta Airlines to Peru. The baggage size and weight limits change from time to time. Currently, passengers are allowed to check two bags with each weighing up to 50 pounds and with certain size restrictions. Passengers are also allowed one carry-on bag, plus a purse, briefcase, or laptop. We strongly advise you to check current limits on the airline’s website once you know the carrier you will be taking to Peru. You will be responsible for any excess-baggage charges.Please check the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website for a detailed list of permitted and prohibited items at http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/ airtravel/prohibited/permitted-prohibited-items.shtm.  
  
===What Might A Volunteer Face? ===
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Peace Corps Volunteers are not allowed to take pets, weapons, explosives, radio transmitters, or motorized vehicles to their overseas assignments. Do not pack flammable materials or other items restricted by the airlines or the Department of Homeland Security. It is best not to pack aerosol containers.
  
The comments that follow are intended to stimulate thought and discussion. The issues discussed may or may not have an impact on your own Volunteer experience. Rather, they are here to make all Volunteers aware of issues that one particular group or another may face.  
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You will be passing through Peruvian customs upon your arrival. While all normal personal items are acceptable, there are limits on the number of certain electronic items that may be brought to the country. For example, a Volunteer may bring in only one laptop.  
  
====Possible Issues for Female Volunteers====
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===What is the electric current in Peru? ===
  
Zambia is a paternalistic society. Young female Volunteers may experience some frustration when Zambian men do not take them seriously at first or view them as children. Female Volunteers may also receive more unwanted and inappropriate attention from Zambian men. They may have to work harder than male Volunteers to gain the respect of colleagues in the workplace. They may not be accorded the respect they are normally used to receiving.  
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The current is 220 volts. Electrical appliances that utilize 110 volts require a transformer.  
  
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===How much money should I bring? ===
  
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Volunteers are expected to live at the same level as the people in their community. You will be given a settling-in allowance and a monthly living allowance, which are adequate to cover all your expenses. Similarly during training, you will be provided with a “walk-around” allowance, to cover all expenses. Trainees may, however, wish to bring a small amount of cash, perhaps $50 to $100, with them to Peru for initial or extra expenses. Dollars are easily exchanged into Peruvian currency virtually anywhere in Peru.
  
====Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color====
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From time to time, Volunteers may wish to have additional money for vacation travel or other special occasions. Cash can be obtained from ATM machines throughout Peru and South America. Credit cards and traveler’s checks are widely accepted (note that some Volunteers report that American Express traveler’s checks are more readily accepted than other brands).
  
In Zambian cities and towns, it is fair to say that most Zambians are aware of some of the different racial and ethnic groups that exist in the United States. However, among rural populations, this level of knowledge and understanding greatly diminishes.
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===When can I take vacation and have people visit me? ===
  
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You are encouraged to use your vacation time to travel in Peru and other South American countries. Each Volunteer accrues two vacation days per month of service (excluding training).  Leave may normally not be taken during training, the first three months of service (an important time for developing good relationships with Peruvians in your community), or the last three months of service (when you will be completing your projects). Travel outside Peru may normally not be taken during the first six months of service. Family and friends are welcome to visit you after you have been at your site for six months and as long as their stay does not interfere with your work. Extended stays at your site are not encouraged and should be discussed with your associate Peace Corps director in advance. The Peace Corps cannot provide your visitors with visa, medical, or travel assistance.
  
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===Will my belongings be covered by insurance? ===
  
African Americans may not be recognized as Americans and may be asked what their tribal language and customs are. They may be expected to learn local languages more quickly than other Volunteers. They may be accepted more readily into the culture than other Volunteers or treated according to local social norms because it is assumed they are AfricanThey may not be recognized as Americans or they may be perceived as considering themselves superior to Africans.  They may be discriminated against by white Africans.  
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The Peace Corps does not provide insurance coverage for personal effects. You are encouraged to purchase personal property insurance before you leave the United States. If you wish, you may contact your own insurance company; additionally, the Peace Corps will provide you with insurance application forms, and we encourage you to consider them carefully. Volunteers should not take valuable items overseasJewelry and expensive watches, radios, cameras, and electronic equipment are subject to loss, theft, and breakage, and satisfactory maintenance and repair services may not be available. It is advisable to bring inexpensive items, or to purchase them once in Peru.  
  
Hispanic American Volunteers may also be perceived as not being American; they may be labeled as Cubans or Mexicans.  Zambians may expect Hispanics to automatically assume different role patterns or to interact socially with more ease.  Asian-American Volunteers may be subject to stereotypes based on behavior Zambians have observed in films, such as being assumed to be experts at kung fu, and based on Zambia’s current or historical involvement with Asian countries. They may also be seen as not American.
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===Do I need an international driver’s license? ===
  
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No. Volunteers in Peru are prohibited from operating motorized vehicles.
  
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===What should I bring as gifts for Peruvian friends and my host family? ===
  
====Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers====
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This is not a requirement, but a simple token of friendship is a nice gesture. Knick-nacks for the house are usually appropriate gifts—framed pictures or photos, books, calendars of American scenes, or souvenirs from your area.
  
In Zambia, older members of society are viewed and treated with a great deal of respect. Issues for older Americans are more likely to be in relation to their younger fellow Peace Corps Volunteers. Older Volunteers may work and live with individuals in the Peace Corps community who have little understanding of or respect for the lives and experiences of senior Americans. Senior Volunteers may not get necessary personal support from younger Volunteers and may be reluctant to share personal, sexual or health concerns with them or with members of the Peace Corps staff. They may find that younger Volunteers look to them for advice and support; a role they may not enjoy assuming. During pre-service training, senior Volunteers may need to be assertive when developing an effective approach to language learning.
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===Where will my site assignment be when I finish training, and how isolated will I be? ===
  
====Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers====
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Peace Corps trainees are not assigned to their permanent sites until the seventh or eighth week of pre-service training.
  
In general, Zambians view homosexuality as immoral and as something that has been “imported” from Europe. Homosexuality is against the law in Zambia and although few cases are brought before the courts, it still requires that homosexuals be mindful that anti-gay laws and sentiment exist. While there are certainly homosexuals, the level of tolerance will probably not be what it was in the States. Due to cultural norms, homosexual Volunteers may discover that they cannot be open about their sexual preference in their community. Volunteers may serve for two years without meeting another gay Volunteer. Lesbians will have to deal with constant questions about boyfriends, marriage, and sex (as do all women). Most Zambian homosexuals have probably migrated to the larger cities, while most Volunteers are posted in rural sites. Gay men must deal with machismo: talk of conquest(s), girl watching, and dirty jokes.  
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This gives Peace Corps staff the opportunity to assess each trainee’s skill set prior to assigning sites. You will have the opportunity to provide input on your site preferences, but Peace Corps cannot guarantee placement where you might like to be. The final decision will be based on the best match between your skills and community needs, and may be in a major city, a mid-sized town, a small town, or a rural village. Even if assigned to a small town or rural village, you will be within three or four hours by bus from a city or large town, and will likely be within an hour by foot or ground transportation from another Volunteer’s site.  
  
====Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers ====
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===How can my family contact me in an emergency? ===
  
Zambia is a declared Christian nation; most Zambians have some religious affiliation and attend church regularly. Zambia has a wide variety of Christian faiths, a very small number of Muslims (mainly in the Asian community), and a few other religions such as Hindu and B’hai. In Zambia, the questions, “Are you a Christian?” and “Do you Pray?” are conversation starters. Volunteers may be chastised for not observing Christian beliefs or asked to explain why they don’t practice a certain Christian denomination. They may be expected to attend church with their communities or they may be actively recruited by a Christian group. Volunteers may have difficulty conveying their beliefs due to language and cultural barriers.  
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The Peace Corps Office of Special Services (OSS) provides assistance in handling emergencies affecting trainees and Volunteers. Before leaving the United States, instruct your family to notify OSS immediately if an emergency arises, such as the serious illness or death of a family member. During normal business hours, the number for the Office of Special Services is 202.692.1470. It can also be reached through Peace Corps’ toll-free number at: 800.424.8580, extension 1470.  After normal business hours, and on weekends and holidays, the OSS duty officer can be reached at 202.638.2574.  
  
====Possible Issues for Volunteers with Disabilities ====
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For nonemergency questions, your family can get information from the country desk staff at the Peace Corps. The desk staff can be reached at 202.692.2515, 2516, or 2525. Or they can be reached through the toll-free number: 800.424.8580, extensions 2515, 2516, or 2525.
  
There is very little infrastructure to accommodate individuals with disabilities.Volunteers with disabilities may also find that some people hold prejudicial attitudes about individuals with disabilities and may discriminate against them. Peace Corps Volunteer sites in Zambia are also very remote and isolated, with very little to no public transportation. Disabled Volunteers may find the rural living situation particularly challenging. However, 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 Zambia without unreasonable risk to yourself or interruption of your service. The Peace Corps/Zambia staff will work with disabled Volunteers to make reasonable accommodations in training, projects, housing, job sites, or other areas to enable you to serve safely and effectively.
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===Can I call home from Peru? ===
  
====Possible Issues for Married Volunteers ====
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International phone service to and from Peru is good in major cities. Volunteers have the option of purchasing cell phones which can call to the states, and can also receive phone calls from the states free of charge.  Volunteers in smaller communities will typically have access to a community telephone, through which international calls may be made and received. Most Volunteers also have cellular phones. There are reasonably priced local and international calling cards are available in Peru.
  
Married couples may face the challenge of one spouse being more enthusiastic about the Peace Corps, one spouse being better able to adapt to the new environment, or one spouse being less or more homesick than the other. A married man may be encouraged by Zambians to be the more dominant member in the relationship, to make decisions independent of his wife’s views, or to socialize without his wife. He may be ridiculed if he performs domestic tasks or refuses to have a mistress. A married woman may find herself in a less independent role than she is accustomed to. She may have a more limited social life in the community than single female Volunteers because of Zambians’ assumption that she is busy taking care of her husband. She may be expected to perform more domestic chores than her husband.
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===Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer? ===
  
[[Category:Zambia]]
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While you may or may not have Internet access at your site, there are numerous, affordable Internet locations throughout the country. Most Volunteers bring laptops and find that they come in handy. However, if you bring your laptop, the Peace Corps strongly encourages you to insure it.
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===How can people send things to me in Peru? ===
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We do not recommend that people mail packages, money, airline tickets, or other valuable items to Volunteers. Customs duties may exceed the value of the items sent, and packages often disappear in transit. The modern supermarkets and well-stocked stores in Lima and other cities have anything you will need. Should family or friends need to send you something, we strongly recommend that the package be under half a kilo (1.1 pounds), with a declared value of under $100, and mailed in a padded envelope. Once you are at your site, all mail, including packages, should be sent to your regional mailbox. We strongly discourage people sending you items via courier services (e.g., DHL or FedEx), as both the sender and the receiver must often pay fees. If your friends or family want to send you something for a special occasion, it would be best for them to deposit the money into your account in the U.S. You can then access the funds from an ATM machine and purchase something special in Peru.
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[[Category:Peru]]

Revision as of 10:17, 30 September 2010

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



How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Peru?

You will most likely be flying American Airlines or Delta Airlines to Peru. The baggage size and weight limits change from time to time. Currently, passengers are allowed to check two bags with each weighing up to 50 pounds and with certain size restrictions. Passengers are also allowed one carry-on bag, plus a purse, briefcase, or laptop. We strongly advise you to check current limits on the airline’s website once you know the carrier you will be taking to Peru. You will be responsible for any excess-baggage charges.Please check the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website for a detailed list of permitted and prohibited items at http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/ airtravel/prohibited/permitted-prohibited-items.shtm.

Peace Corps Volunteers are not allowed to take pets, weapons, explosives, radio transmitters, or motorized vehicles to their overseas assignments. Do not pack flammable materials or other items restricted by the airlines or the Department of Homeland Security. It is best not to pack aerosol containers.

You will be passing through Peruvian customs upon your arrival. While all normal personal items are acceptable, there are limits on the number of certain electronic items that may be brought to the country. For example, a Volunteer may bring in only one laptop.

What is the electric current in Peru?

The current is 220 volts. Electrical appliances that utilize 110 volts require a transformer.

How much money should I bring?

Volunteers are expected to live at the same level as the people in their community. You will be given a settling-in allowance and a monthly living allowance, which are adequate to cover all your expenses. Similarly during training, you will be provided with a “walk-around” allowance, to cover all expenses. Trainees may, however, wish to bring a small amount of cash, perhaps $50 to $100, with them to Peru for initial or extra expenses. Dollars are easily exchanged into Peruvian currency virtually anywhere in Peru.

From time to time, Volunteers may wish to have additional money for vacation travel or other special occasions. Cash can be obtained from ATM machines throughout Peru and South America. Credit cards and traveler’s checks are widely accepted (note that some Volunteers report that American Express traveler’s checks are more readily accepted than other brands).

When can I take vacation and have people visit me?

You are encouraged to use your vacation time to travel in Peru and other South American countries. Each Volunteer accrues two vacation days per month of service (excluding training). Leave may normally not be taken during training, the first three months of service (an important time for developing good relationships with Peruvians in your community), or the last three months of service (when you will be completing your projects). Travel outside Peru may normally not be taken during the first six months of service. Family and friends are welcome to visit you after you have been at your site for six months and as long as their stay does not interfere with your work. Extended stays at your site are not encouraged and should be discussed with your associate Peace Corps director in advance. The Peace Corps cannot provide your visitors with visa, medical, or travel assistance.

Will my belongings be covered by insurance?

The Peace Corps does not provide insurance coverage for personal effects. You are encouraged to purchase personal property insurance before you leave the United States. If you wish, you may contact your own insurance company; additionally, the Peace Corps will provide you with insurance application forms, and we encourage you to consider them carefully. Volunteers should not take valuable items overseas. Jewelry and expensive watches, radios, cameras, and electronic equipment are subject to loss, theft, and breakage, and satisfactory maintenance and repair services may not be available. It is advisable to bring inexpensive items, or to purchase them once in Peru.

Do I need an international driver’s license?

No. Volunteers in Peru are prohibited from operating motorized vehicles.

What should I bring as gifts for Peruvian friends and my host family?

This is not a requirement, but a simple token of friendship is a nice gesture. Knick-nacks for the house are usually appropriate gifts—framed pictures or photos, books, calendars of American scenes, or souvenirs from your area.

Where will my site assignment be when I finish training, and how isolated will I be?

Peace Corps trainees are not assigned to their permanent sites until the seventh or eighth week of pre-service training.

This gives Peace Corps staff the opportunity to assess each trainee’s skill set prior to assigning sites. You will have the opportunity to provide input on your site preferences, but Peace Corps cannot guarantee placement where you might like to be. The final decision will be based on the best match between your skills and community needs, and may be in a major city, a mid-sized town, a small town, or a rural village. Even if assigned to a small town or rural village, you will be within three or four hours by bus from a city or large town, and will likely be within an hour by foot or ground transportation from another Volunteer’s site.

How can my family contact me in an emergency?

The Peace Corps Office of Special Services (OSS) provides assistance in handling emergencies affecting trainees and Volunteers. Before leaving the United States, instruct your family to notify OSS immediately if an emergency arises, such as the serious illness or death of a family member. During normal business hours, the number for the Office of Special Services is 202.692.1470. It can also be reached through Peace Corps’ toll-free number at: 800.424.8580, extension 1470. After normal business hours, and on weekends and holidays, the OSS duty officer can be reached at 202.638.2574.

For nonemergency questions, your family can get information from the country desk staff at the Peace Corps. The desk staff can be reached at 202.692.2515, 2516, or 2525. Or they can be reached through the toll-free number: 800.424.8580, extensions 2515, 2516, or 2525.

Can I call home from Peru?

International phone service to and from Peru is good in major cities. Volunteers have the option of purchasing cell phones which can call to the states, and can also receive phone calls from the states free of charge. Volunteers in smaller communities will typically have access to a community telephone, through which international calls may be made and received. Most Volunteers also have cellular phones. There are reasonably priced local and international calling cards are available in Peru.

Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?

While you may or may not have Internet access at your site, there are numerous, affordable Internet locations throughout the country. Most Volunteers bring laptops and find that they come in handy. However, if you bring your laptop, the Peace Corps strongly encourages you to insure it.

How can people send things to me in Peru?

We do not recommend that people mail packages, money, airline tickets, or other valuable items to Volunteers. Customs duties may exceed the value of the items sent, and packages often disappear in transit. The modern supermarkets and well-stocked stores in Lima and other cities have anything you will need. Should family or friends need to send you something, we strongly recommend that the package be under half a kilo (1.1 pounds), with a declared value of under $100, and mailed in a padded envelope. Once you are at your site, all mail, including packages, should be sent to your regional mailbox. We strongly discourage people sending you items via courier services (e.g., DHL or FedEx), as both the sender and the receiver must often pay fees. If your friends or family want to send you something for a special occasion, it would be best for them to deposit the money into your account in the U.S. You can then access the funds from an ATM machine and purchase something special in Peru.