Difference between pages "Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Morocco" and "Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Togo"

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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 other ways, however, our diversity poses challenges. In Togo, 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.
  
==Communications ==
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Outside of Togo’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 blonde hair and blue eyes. The people of Togo 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 will ask you to be supportive of one another, and encourage you to share American diversity with the Togolese.
  
During pre-service training, you will receive mail at the Peace Corps/Morocco office, which will forward mail to the training site at least once a week. Please do not have packages sent to you during training. After you are assigned to your permanent site, you will receive mail at a local post office or at your workplace. Packages should be sent directly to your site after training. Depending on the distance to your site from Rabat, mail may take anywhere from three days to three weeks to get to you.  
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In order to ease the transition and adapt to life in Togo, you may need to make some temporary, yet fundamental compromises with who you are 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 your pre-service training and will be on call to provide support, but the challenge ultimately will be your own.  
  
Your mailing address during training will be:
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Historically, the Peace Corps and the Togolese people have benefited from the skills and experiences that persons from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds have offered.  Volunteers from various backgrounds, all qualified ages, and both genders have served and benefited from their time in Togo. Your experiences in Togo will differ, to some degree, from every other Volunteer’s, both in terms of the challenges and rewards. Togolese are, in general, wonderfully generous, warm, and hospitable people and no matter who you are, if you make the effort necessary to transcend cultural barriers, you will have a rewarding and fruitful stay in Togo.
  
"Your Name", Trainee <br>
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===Overview of Diversity in Togo ===
s/c Corps de la Paix <br>
 
2, rue Abou Marouane Essaadi <br>
 
Agdal, Rabat 10100, MOROCCO <br>
 
  
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The Peace Corps staff in Togo recognizes adjustment issues that come with diversity and will endeavor to provide support and guidance. During pre-service training, several sessions will be facilitated by the Volunteer-initiated and led diversity committee 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 will become part of a diverse group of Americans who will take pride in supporting each other and demonstrating the richness of American culture.
  
It normally takes 10 to 12 days for an airmail letter to arrive from the United States. Surface mail takes from one to four months. Mail that goes through the Moroccan post office is subject to customs inspection, censorship, and currency control. Advise your friends and relatives that mail delivery is sporadic and that they should not worry if they do not receive your letters regularly. Also, they should never send cash through the mail, as it will seldom reach you. Please check the U.S. Post Service website at www.usps.com for the latest updates on how best to send your letter or package.  Currently, the USPS recommends air Parcel Post (not surface mail) for packages, or airmail for letters.
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===What Might A Volunteer Face? ===
  
Although having packages sent from home is not recommended because of the unreliability of mail service and the customs fees, if you do have packages sent, brown padded envelopes work well. Make sure they have the green customs label and are marked as gifts, which should prevent the imposition of fees. It is best to wait to have packages sent until you know your permanent address. Again, please do not have your family send you packages during pre-service training.
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====Possible Issues for Female Volunteers ====
  
==Telephones ==
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Americans working in Togo face cultural adjustments in understanding and addressing prejudices and stereotypes held about them. Unfortunately, the rather lurid films shown in Togo at the cinema and on TV, plus society’s general attitude towards women in Africa, may make Togolese view female Volunteers as “loose,” or “available.” Togolese men may misinterpret friendly and open gestures by female Volunteers as an unintended invitation to something more serious.
  
Telephone and telegraph services are available in all parts of the country. Volunteers in larger cities may have a telephone in their home. Many Volunteers purchase inexpensive cellphones in Morocco, an expense that is not covered by the Peace Corps. Public telephones (called teleboutiques) suitable for making direct-dial international calls exist in most towns. Collect calls can be made only at a post and telecommunications office, and you should anticipate a wait.  AT&T and MCI calling cards work in Morocco.  
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Friendships with Togolese men should have clear boundaries in the beginning. Unlike in the U.S. there is less of a concept that a completely platonic relationship can exist between men and women. To be treated respectfully, female Volunteers may find that they will have to curb some of the activities they were used to in the United States. Late-night socializing with Togolese colleagues is not recommended. Neither is inviting any man into your house for any reason if you are alone. Fortunately, you can entertain male guests without giving them—or the community—the wrong idea by remaining in the family compound and ensuring that several family members or neighborhood children are with you and your guest at all times.  
  
The Peace Corps office in Morocco can be reached by direct dialing from the United States. During normal working hours, the office number (from most states) is 011.212.3.768-3780, and a duty officer monitors calls for emergencies after office hours. Volunteers are not permitted to use telephones at the Peace Corps/Morocco office to call family or friends unless the call pertains to an emergency and is approved in advance by the country director.  
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This may sound extreme, but it is better to play it safe, especially at the beginning of your service, rather than to be caught in a situation where a Togolese colleague is expecting sex instead of a friendly chat when he comes to visit. It is also a very good idea to make friends with the women in your family and/or neighborhood as soon as possible. Not only will these friendships probably be immensely rewarding, but spending time with women will also prevent unwelcome or inappropriate attention from men.  
  
==Computer, E-mail, and Internet Access ==
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Togolese men will frequently ask women to “marry” them or ask for your address. A firm “no” (no smiles, and no eye contact) is usually enough to handle this situation, even though it may have to be repeated a few times. Men will make verbal requests, but it is very rare for them to try force.  Togolese respond very well to gentle humor.
  
Volunteers, typically, are able to access e-mail and the Internet at cybercafes. Cybercafes are affordable, generally reliable and can be found in increasing numbers in just about any town or city. Most Volunteers do not have a cyber café at their site, but most are within a few hours’ travel from one.  The Volunteer lounge at the Peace Corps office in Rabat is equipped with two computers, both with Internet access, and a printer reserved for Volunteer use. Volunteers are not allowed to use staff computers.
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====Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color ====
  
Some Volunteers bring their laptop computers, but they are responsible for insuring and maintaining the computers themselves. The Peace Corps will not replace stolen computers and strongly encourages those who bring them to get personal property insurance.  
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Though unconsciously, many Togolese expect that American Volunteers will be white. Peace Corps Volunteers in Togo, who are of ethnic minority backgrounds, will generally not find overt biases. However, Togolese may make some stereotypic assumptions. For example, most Asian-American Volunteers will automatically be considered Chinese and Kung Fu experts. An African-American Volunteer may first be mistaken for a Ghanaian or Nigerian because of an Anglicized French accent, and then be regarded more as an American instead of someone with African origins. Volunteers of color may be expected to learn local languages more quickly than other Peace Corps Volunteers, may be asked what their tribal language and customs are, and could find themselves evaluated as less professionally competent than Caucasian Volunteers.  
  
==Housing and Site Location ==
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====Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers ====
  
You will be assigned to your permanent site towards the end of pre-service training. After your site announcement, you will visit your assigned site to meet your counterparts and other members of your community. Once you move to the site, you will spend your first two months living with a host family that has been chosen by the Peace Corps. This family has prepared for your arrival and will provide you with a safe and secure place to live while you continue to learn the language and adapt to the culture. An additional objective of this period is to help you integrate more effectively into the community.  
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Respect comes with age in traditional Togolese society, so being a senior is generally an advantage. Volunteers in their early 20s find that they may have to make an extra effort to be accepted as professional colleagues since very often Togolese of that age are still pursuing their education. Younger Volunteers must work for acceptance and respect since respect in traditional Togolese society is associated with age. In contrast, every wrinkle and every gray hair earns respect for the experience and wisdom they represent.  
  
After the mandatory two-month stay with a Moroccan family, you are free to change your housing, in accordance with the Peace Corps’ safety and security criteria (see the chapter on Health Care and Safety). The Peace Corps will give you a modest settling-in allowance to purchase household necessities such as a stove, dishes, and furniture. Peace Corps will provide additional items, such as a carbon monoxide detector and water filter, if necessary. Volunteers in areas that experience unbearably cold winters can be reimbursed for the purchase of an appropriate heater. Depending on the site, Volunteer housing generally consists of two or more rooms and private bath and latrine facilities. Some Volunteers live in family compounds with one or two private rooms for their use.
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====Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers ====
  
While many Volunteers in Morocco have running water and electricity, you may not have these amenities and may collect your water from an outside faucet or well and spend your evenings reading by candle or lantern. You need to be very flexible in your housing expectations, as there are no guarantees of continuous electricity or water.  
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Homosexuality is not publicly discussed or acknowledged in Togolese society. Since acceptance in the rural community is part and parcel to a successful Peace Corps experience in Togo, Volunteers with alternative sexual orientations generally choose not to openly discuss their sexual orientation in their villages. Gay and lesbian Volunteers have however, successfully and safely worked in Togo.
  
Depending on your program and assignment, you may be placed in a community that ranges from a large, semi-urban town to a very small rural village. Some Volunteers share a site, while others are quite a distance from other Volunteers.  Peace Corps staff members visit all sites to ensure that they meet the Peace Corps’ safety and security criteria. Staff also visit all Volunteers intermittently to provide personal, medical, and professional support.
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====Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers ====
  
==Living Allowance and Money Management ==
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There are three major religions in Togo: Christianity, Islam and Animism. People with different religious backgrounds than these three may have difficulty practicing their religion.  Being perceived as having no religion at all may not be understood.
  
As a Volunteer in Morocco, you will receive four types of allowances. The first is a one-time settling-in allowance, currently five thousand Moroccan dirhams (MAD 5000), that is used to buy basic household items when you move to your site. This amount is reviewed once a year through a “settling-in survey” to ensure that the allowance is sufficient. You will receive a monthly living allowance, currently MAD 2000, to cover your basic expenses, i.e., food, utilities, household supplies, clothing, recreation and entertainment, communications costs (e.g., cell phone cards, internet access), transportation, reading material, and other incidentals. Your monthly rent will be covered separately by the Peace Corps. The living allowance is paid in local currency and is sent to Volunteers during the third week of each month for the following month. The living allowance is reviewed once a year through a market survey to ensure that it is adequate.  You may find that you receive more remuneration than your counterpart or supervisor.
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====Possible Issues for Volunteers with Disabilities ====
  
You will also receive a vacation allowance of $24 (currently MAD 220) per month and a travel allowance to cover the cost of work-related trips (pre-approved work-related leave, official Peace Corps events, etc.). The current travel allowance policy is under review.  
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Togolese are very direct and physical disabilities are likely to be pointed out in not very sensitive ways. It should be noted however, that there is no judgment attached to the comments.  It is rather a case of stating the obvious. Transportation in Togo is difficult and would be more so for someone with a physical disability. While there are good medical facilities in the capital, up-country medical care is generally substandard by American values.  
  
Most Volunteers find they can live comfortably in Morocco with these allowances. Volunteers are strongly discouraged from supplementing their income with money brought from home, as they are expected to live at the economic level of their neighbors and colleagues. Nevertheless, credit cards are handy for vacations and travel and can be used in several establishments in the larger cities. Traveler’s checks can be cashed for a small percentage fee. ATMs can be found at most major banks in large cities.
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For the most part, public facilities in Togo 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 Togo without unreasonable risk of harm to yourself or interruption of your service.  
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FMOI @ King_Tourus420 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.  
  
==Food and Diet ==
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[[Category:Togo]]
 
 
A wide variety of fruits and vegetables are available year-round, and all meats except pork are readily available. Dairy products like yogurt and milk can usually be obtained.  Although maintaining a vegetarian diet should not be difficult, you will be confronted with cultural issues when visiting Moroccan families, as they will offer you, and expect you to accept, traditional foods. Thus vegetarians need to be flexible about sharing the Moroccan diet when visiting friends and neighbors.
 
 
 
Fresh bread is widely available and is an important part of the Moroccan diet. Pastries are available in larger towns, and pasta is available in almost any small shop.
 
 
 
Mint tea is a Moroccan's favorite drink. It is traditionally very sweet and is served throughout the day. The numerous cafes in Morocco, which are mostly frequented by men, also serve coffee and fresh orange juice. Because Morocco is a Muslim country, beer and wine are not usually available in rural areas.
 
 
 
==Transportation ==
 
 
 
Most Volunteers travel within the country in commercial buses or long-distance taxis (grand taxi). Local taxis (petit taxis) are available in all medium and large cities. If required for their work, Volunteers are issued bicycles with bicycle helmets. To reduce safety risks, Peace Corps/Morocco prohibits Volunteers from driving or riding on any two- or three-wheeled motorized vehicle (such as a motorcycle) for any reason. Nor are Volunteers allowed to own or drive private cars. Violation of these policies may result in termination of your Volunteer service.
 
 
 
==Geography and Climate ==
 
 
 
Morocco is sometimes referred to as the cold country with the hot sun. The sun shines most of the year, but the cold can penetrate straight to your bones. The country has a varied geography, with beaches, mountains, desert, and agricultural land. The north tends to receive more rain than the south, so the majority of agriculture occurs in the north.
 
 
 
Moving southward, the landscape changes to desert, turning into the Sahara in the deep southeast. Morocco boasts a popular ski resort in the Atlas Mountains outside Marrakech, and on either side of the mountains are flat, hot, and dry plains. Summer is hot all over Morocco, with coastal areas experiencing greater relative humidity than inland areas.
 
 
 
==Social Activities ==
 
 
 
Morocco is more tolerant than many other Muslim nations toward Western cultural norms. But while people in large cities tend to dress in Western clothing, those in rural communities are still very traditional. Most Volunteers live in small towns or rural settings and need to conform to local customs. Men have more external freedom than women do in that they can circulate freely outside the home. Cultural norms do not allow men and women to mix freely outside the home, and women tend to spend more time in the home, taking care of domestic affairs and socializing with other women. Moroccans are known for their hospitality, and you should expect invitations to dinner, weddings, and other social functions.
 
 
 
==Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior ==
 
 
 
The people of Morocco take pride in their personal appearance. To gain their acceptance, respect, and confidence, it is essential that you dress and conduct yourself professionally. Dress standards for Volunteers are generally conservative. Women may wear pants with long-sleeved shirts for normal work-related activity, but are expected to wear long, casual skirts or dresses for more professional activities (e.g., meetings and/or workshops with Ministry representatives). Men are expected to wear long trousers for most activities.
 
 
 
Adhering to the conservative dress codes in Morocco is a test of your motivation and commitment to adapt to your new environment. If you have reservations about this, you should consider the amount of sacrifice and flexibility required to be successful and reevaluate your decision to become a Volunteer.
 
 
 
The Peace Corps expects Volunteers to behave in a way that will foster respect within their communities and reflect well on the Peace Corps and on the United States. You will receive an orientation to appropriate behavior and cultural sensitivity during pre-service training. As a Volunteer, you have the status of an invited guest, and thus you need to be sensitive to the habits, tastes, and taboos of your hosts.
 
 
 
Certain behaviors can jeopardize the Peace Corps’ mission in Morocco as well as your personal safety and thus cannot be tolerated by the Peace Corps. Engaging in these behaviors may lead to administrative separation, a decision by the Peace Corps to terminate your service. The Volunteer Handbook provides more information on the grounds for administrative separation.
 
 
 
==Personal Safety ==
 
 
 
More information about the Peace Corps’ approach to safety is outlined in the Health Care and Safety chapter, but it is an important issue and cannot be overemphasized. As stated in the Volunteer Handbook, becoming a Peace Corps Volunteer entails certain safety risks. Living and traveling in an unfamiliar environment (often alone), having a limited understanding of local language and culture, and being perceived as wealthy are some of the factors that can put a Volunteer at risk. Many Volunteers experience varying degrees of unwanted attention and harassment. Petty thefts and burglaries are not uncommon, and incidents of physical and sexual assault do occur. The Peace Corps has established procedures and policies designed to help Volunteers reduce their risks and enhance their safety and security. At the same time, you are expected to take responsibility for your safety and well-being.
 
 
 
==Rewards and Frustrations ==
 
 
 
Although the potential for job satisfaction is quite high, like all Volunteers, you will encounter numerous frustrations.  Because of financial or other challenges, collaborating agencies do not always provide the support promised.  Moreover, the pace of work and life is slower than what most Americans are accustomed to, and some people you work with may be hesitant to change practices and traditions that are centuries old. For these reasons, the Peace Corps experience of adapting to a new culture and environment is often described as a series of emotional peaks and valleys.
 
 
 
You will be given a high degree of responsibility and independence in your work—perhaps more than in any other job you have had or will have. Often you will find yourself in situations that require an ability to motivate yourself and your co-workers with little guidance from supervisors. You might work for months without seeing any visible impact from, or without receiving feedback on, your work. Development is a slow process. Positive progress most often comes only after the combined efforts of several Volunteers over the course of many years. You must possess the self-confidence, patience, and vision to continue working toward long-term goals without seeing immediate results.
 
 
 
To overcome these difficulties, you will need maturity, flexibility, open-mindedness, and resourcefulness. The Peace Corps staff, your co-workers, and fellow Volunteers will support you during times of challenge as well as in moments of success. Judging by the experience of former Volunteers, the peaks are well worth the difficult times, and most Volunteers leave Morocco feeling that they have gained much more than they sacrificed during their service. If you are able to make the commitment to integrate into your community and work hard, you will be a successful Volunteer.
 
 
 
[[Category:Morocco]]
 

Revision as of 10:54, 19 November 2013

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

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

In other ways, however, our diversity poses challenges. In Togo, 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.

Outside of Togo’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 blonde hair and blue eyes. The people of Togo 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 will ask you to be supportive of one another, and encourage you to share American diversity with the Togolese.

In order to ease the transition and adapt to life in Togo, you may need to make some temporary, yet fundamental compromises with who you are 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 your pre-service training and will be on call to provide support, but the challenge ultimately will be your own.

Historically, the Peace Corps and the Togolese people have benefited from the skills and experiences that persons from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds have offered. Volunteers from various backgrounds, all qualified ages, and both genders have served and benefited from their time in Togo. Your experiences in Togo will differ, to some degree, from every other Volunteer’s, both in terms of the challenges and rewards. Togolese are, in general, wonderfully generous, warm, and hospitable people and no matter who you are, if you make the effort necessary to transcend cultural barriers, you will have a rewarding and fruitful stay in Togo.

Overview of Diversity in Togo

The Peace Corps staff in Togo recognizes adjustment issues that come with diversity and will endeavor to provide support and guidance. During pre-service training, several sessions will be facilitated by the Volunteer-initiated and led diversity committee 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 will become part of a diverse group of Americans who will take pride in supporting each other and demonstrating the richness of American culture.

What Might A Volunteer Face?

Possible Issues for Female Volunteers

Americans working in Togo face cultural adjustments in understanding and addressing prejudices and stereotypes held about them. Unfortunately, the rather lurid films shown in Togo at the cinema and on TV, plus society’s general attitude towards women in Africa, may make Togolese view female Volunteers as “loose,” or “available.” Togolese men may misinterpret friendly and open gestures by female Volunteers as an unintended invitation to something more serious.

Friendships with Togolese men should have clear boundaries in the beginning. Unlike in the U.S. there is less of a concept that a completely platonic relationship can exist between men and women. To be treated respectfully, female Volunteers may find that they will have to curb some of the activities they were used to in the United States. Late-night socializing with Togolese colleagues is not recommended. Neither is inviting any man into your house for any reason if you are alone. Fortunately, you can entertain male guests without giving them—or the community—the wrong idea by remaining in the family compound and ensuring that several family members or neighborhood children are with you and your guest at all times.

This may sound extreme, but it is better to play it safe, especially at the beginning of your service, rather than to be caught in a situation where a Togolese colleague is expecting sex instead of a friendly chat when he comes to visit. It is also a very good idea to make friends with the women in your family and/or neighborhood as soon as possible. Not only will these friendships probably be immensely rewarding, but spending time with women will also prevent unwelcome or inappropriate attention from men.

Togolese men will frequently ask women to “marry” them or ask for your address. A firm “no” (no smiles, and no eye contact) is usually enough to handle this situation, even though it may have to be repeated a few times. Men will make verbal requests, but it is very rare for them to try force. Togolese respond very well to gentle humor.

Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color

Though unconsciously, many Togolese expect that American Volunteers will be white. Peace Corps Volunteers in Togo, who are of ethnic minority backgrounds, will generally not find overt biases. However, Togolese may make some stereotypic assumptions. For example, most Asian-American Volunteers will automatically be considered Chinese and Kung Fu experts. An African-American Volunteer may first be mistaken for a Ghanaian or Nigerian because of an Anglicized French accent, and then be regarded more as an American instead of someone with African origins. Volunteers of color may be expected to learn local languages more quickly than other Peace Corps Volunteers, may be asked what their tribal language and customs are, and could find themselves evaluated as less professionally competent than Caucasian Volunteers.

Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers

Respect comes with age in traditional Togolese society, so being a senior is generally an advantage. Volunteers in their early 20s find that they may have to make an extra effort to be accepted as professional colleagues since very often Togolese of that age are still pursuing their education. Younger Volunteers must work for acceptance and respect since respect in traditional Togolese society is associated with age. In contrast, every wrinkle and every gray hair earns respect for the experience and wisdom they represent.

Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers

Homosexuality is not publicly discussed or acknowledged in Togolese society. Since acceptance in the rural community is part and parcel to a successful Peace Corps experience in Togo, Volunteers with alternative sexual orientations generally choose not to openly discuss their sexual orientation in their villages. Gay and lesbian Volunteers have however, successfully and safely worked in Togo.

Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers

There are three major religions in Togo: Christianity, Islam and Animism. People with different religious backgrounds than these three may have difficulty practicing their religion. Being perceived as having no religion at all may not be understood.

Possible Issues for Volunteers with Disabilities

Togolese are very direct and physical disabilities are likely to be pointed out in not very sensitive ways. It should be noted however, that there is no judgment attached to the comments. It is rather a case of stating the obvious. Transportation in Togo is difficult and would be more so for someone with a physical disability. While there are good medical facilities in the capital, up-country medical care is generally substandard by American values.

For the most part, public facilities in Togo 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 Togo without unreasonable risk of harm to yourself or interruption of your service. FMOI @ King_Tourus420 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.