Difference between pages "Costa Rica" and "Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Togo"

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{{CountryboxAlternative
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{{Diversity_and_cross-cultural_issues_by_country}}
|Countryname= Costa Rica
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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.  
|CountryCode = cs
+
|status= [[ACTIVE]]
+
|Flag= Flag_of_Costa_Rica.svg
+
|Welcomebooklink = http://www.peacecorps.gov/welcomebooks/crwb515.pdf
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|Region= [[Central America and Mexico]]
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|CountryDirector= [[Steven Dorsey]]
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|Program & Training Officer = [[Amanda Rabinowitz]]
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|Sectors= [[Rural Community Development]]<br> ([[APCD]]: [[Moises Leon]])<br> [[Youth Development]] <br>([[APCD]]: [[Carolina Suarez]])<br> [[Micro-Enterprise Development]] <br>([[APCD]]: [[Luis Mata]])
+
|ProgramDates= [[1963]] - [[Present]]
+
|CurrentlyServing=
+
|TotalVolunteers= 3148
+
|Languages= [[Spanish]]
+
|Map= Cs-map.gif
+
|stagingdate= Oct 4 2010
+
|stagingcity= Washington, DC
+
}}
+
  
Since 1963, Peace Corps Volunteers have served in Costa Rica in a variety of projects including health, education, environment, agriculture, small business development, and youth development. During Peace Corps' history in Costa Rica, its projects have changed to respond and adapt to the needs and challenges of Costa Rica and its people.
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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.  
  
In many respects, Costa Rica has attained impressive levels of social and economic development, manifesting a high level of material progress. However, under this surface, growing social ills threaten to diminish the country's gains in education, democracy, and healthcare. Peace Corps' presence in Costa Rica focuses on addressing the needs of the most vulnerable populations throughout the country strengthening agencies and communities to serve these populations.
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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.  
  
Costa Rica has three projects functioning at this time, rural community development, children, youth, and families, and micro enterprise development. The youth project aims to increase educational and training opportunities for youth, youth organizations, and community volunteers by strengthening the institutional capacity and community outreach of Costa Rica's Ministry of Child Welfare, PANI (Patronato Nacional de la Infancia). The rural community development project focuses on: organizational strengthening of local associations, development committees and other groups; increasing economic opportunities in the rural areas, especially for women's groups and rural youth; on educational enrichment activities with children, youth and adults in collaboration with the National Office of Community Development.  
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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.  
  
 +
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 ===
  
==Peace Corps History==
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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.
  
''Main article: [[History of the Peace Corps in Costa Rica]]''
+
===What Might A Volunteer Face? ===
  
Since 1963, more than 2,200 Peace Corps Volunteers have served in Costa Rica in a variety of projects in the areas of health, education, the environment, community development, agriculture, small business development, and youth development. Throughout the program’s existence in Costa Rica, Volunteers have been consistently well received by the Costa Rican people and local counterpart agencies.
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====Possible Issues for Female Volunteers ====
  
The children, youth, and families project was the primary sector of the Peace Corps/Costa Rica program from 1998 through 2002. In 2003, a second project in rural community development began; it focuses on the poorest rural communities in the country. And now in 2005, we are opening a third project in the area of micro-enterprise development to address the needs of a mostly rural population.  
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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.  
  
 +
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.
  
==Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyles==
+
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.
  
''Main article: [[Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyles in Costa Rica]]''
+
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.
  
Currently, there are Volunteers in all parts of the country: the Central Valley, Limón on the Caribbean coast, Puntarenas on the Pacific coast, as far north as Los Chiles near the Nicaraguan border, and as far south as Paso Canoas on the Panama border. While sites vary in size, climate, and distance to downtown San José (from 20 minutes to eight hours by bus), each has been preselected by the Peace Corps in consultation with relevant host country agencies as being a community where a Volunteer will find plenty of work opportunities and support.
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====Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color ====
  
Volunteers in the children, youth, and families project live in urban, semi-urban, or rural communities. While Volunteers in the community development and micro-enterprise development projects will live in rural/semi-rural communities. Volunteers in urban sites usually have access via a short bus ride to services such as banks, post offices, and hospitals. Volunteers in more rural areas have to take a longer bus ride to the nearest large town to mail letters or cash checks. Some sites are converted squatter settlements made up of a combination of tin and wood shacks, but most sites have recently built two- or three-room cement block buildings with corrugated steel roofs. All Volunteer houses have cold running water and electricity, and most have phones. In all communities, you will find a church, a school, and general stores (pulperías) that sell staples such as rice, black beans, tuna, soap, soft drinks, and snack food.
+
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.  
  
During training, you will live with a family selected by the training staff in one of several training communities. During your first year of service, you are also required to live with a family in your assigned community. This promotes your integration into the community, increases your language skills, and helps ensure your safety. The families are recommended by community leaders and approved by your program manager. Requests to live independently during the second year are approved on a case-by-case basis.
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====Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers ====
  
The family you stay with, which is likely to include children, will probably have a home modest in size and comfort. While the Peace Corps requests that Volunteers be given their own room, you may find that its walls do not reach the ceiling or are very thin. It is important to remember that the concept of individual space in Costa Rica is different from that in America. While some Volunteers find living with a family frustrating at times, they also concede that it is an enriching way to experience a new culture and develop an awareness of its values.
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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.  
  
While you will find most Costa Rican people to be kind and good, communities also have members with a variety of problems, including substance abuse and alcoholism, low income, single parenthood, child abuse, high unemployment, and delinquency. Therefore your safety is of major concern, and you will have to adjust and conform to different norms of behavior and take continual precautions to maximize your safety. (The Health Care and Safety chapter provides more information on this important issue.)
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====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. 
  
==Training==
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====Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers ====
  
''Main article: [[Training in Costa Rica]]''
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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.
  
Pre-service training, which follows a community-based training model, lasts for 11 weeks. Training communities are selected based on whether they meet certain safety and health requirements and allow trainees to carry out activities that help prepare them for their work. Approximately three to five trainees are placed in each of several communities around the capital city, San José, where they live with a host family. A language and cultural facilitator works closely with each group of trainees, providing formal language classes in trainees’ homes or in another suitable space in the community and practice-based instruction outside of the classroom. Advanced or native Spanish speakers participate in an alternative program that accommodates their particular needs.
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====Possible Issues for Volunteers with Disabilities ====
  
All trainees are assigned integrated training activities, to be completed independently or with assistance from the language and cultural facilitators or members of the community. Trainees are responsible for scheduling the activities and determining what kind of support and resources they need in order to complete them. This neighborhood-based, experiential training is complemented by classroom-based technical, cultural, and health and safety training. On Fridays and some Saturdays, all trainees and staff meet at the Peace Corps office for seminars on the particular training “theme” that serves as a framework for determining weekly activities and as a guide for language instruction.
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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.  
  
The training program include a group field trip to observe functioning projects, a visit to a Volunteer’s site, and one trip to trainees’ future sites, during which trainees begin planning for their future assignments.  
+
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.  
  
==Your Health Care and Safety==
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[[Category:Togo]]
 
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''Main article: [[Health Care and Safety in Costa Rica]]''
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The Peace Corps’ highest priority is maintaining the good health and safety of every Volunteer. Peace Corps medical programs emphasize the preventive, rather than the curative, approach to disease. The Peace Corps in Costa Rica maintains a health unit with a full-time medical officer, who takes care of Volunteers’ primary healthcare needs. Medical services may include hospitalization at authorized facilities that are located in the capital city. If you become seriously ill or the resources in-country are insufficient, the Office of Medical Services at Peace Corps headquarters may decide to medically evacuate you to the United States for further care or treatment.
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+
 
+
==Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues==
+
 
+
''Main article: [[Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues in Costa Rica]]''
+
 
+
In Costa Rica, 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 Costa Rica.
+
 
+
Outside of Costa Rica’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 be a misconception, such as the belief that all Americans are rich and have blond hair and blue eyes. The people of Costa Rica 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 Costa Rica, 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 and other limitations. The Peace Corps staff will lead diversity and sensitivity discussions during your pre-service training and will be on call to provide support, but the challenge ultimately will be your own.
+
 
+
* Possible Issues for Female Volunteers
+
* Possible Issues for Male Volunteers
+
* Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color
+
* Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers
+
* Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers
+
* Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers
+
* Possible Issues for Volunteers With Disabilities
+
 
+
==Frequently Asked questions==
+
 
+
{{Volunteersurvey2008
+
|H1r=  12
+
|H1s=  77.5
+
|H2r=  5
+
|H2s=  89.8
+
|H3r=  12
+
|H3s=  88.3
+
|H4r=  35
+
|H4s=  104.5
+
|H5r=  16
+
|H5s=  57
+
|H6r=  15
+
|H6s=  93
+
}}
+
 
+
''Main article: [[FAQs about Peace Corps in Costa Rica]]''
+
 
+
* How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Costa Rica?
+
* What is the electric current in Costa Rica?
+
* 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 Costa Rican friends and 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 from Costa Rica?
+
* Should I bring a cellular phone with me?
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* Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?
+
 
+
 
+
==Packing List==
+
 
+
''Main article: [[Packing List for Costa Rica]]''
+
 
+
This list has been compiled by Volunteers serving in Costa Rica and is based on their experience. Use it as an informal guide in making your own list, bearing in mind that experience is individual. There is no perfect list! You obviously cannot bring everything we mention, so consider those items that make the most sense to you personally and professionally. You can always purchase some things locally and have other things sent to you later. As you decide what to bring, keep in mind that you have an 80-pound weight restriction on baggage. And remember, you can get almost everything you need in Costa Rica.
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+
* General Clothing
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* Shoes
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* Personal Hygiene and Toiletry Items
+
* Peace Corps does not provide for these items
+
* Miscellaneous
+
* Items You Do Not Need to Bring
+
 
+
==Peace Corps News==
+
 
+
Current events relating to Peace Corps are also available by [[News | country of service]] or [[News by state|your home state]]
+
 
+
''The following is automatic RSS feed of Peace Corps news for this country.''<br><rss title=on desc=off>http://news.google.com/news?hl=en&ned=us&scoring=n&q=%22peace+corps%22+%22costa+rica%22&output=rss|charset=UTF-8|short|date=M d</rss>
+
 
+
<br>'''[http://peacecorpsjournals.com PEACE CORPS JOURNALS]'''<br>''( As of {{CURRENTDAYNAME}} {{CURRENTMONTHNAME}} {{CURRENTDAY}}, {{CURRENTYEAR}} )''<rss title=off desc=off>http://peacecorpsjournals.com/rss/cs/blog/50.xml|charset=UTF-8|short|max=10</rss>
+
 
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==Country Fund==
+
 
+
Contributions made to the [https://www.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=resources.donors.contribute.projDetail&projdesc=515-CFD Costa Rica Country Fund] will support Volunteers and their community partners with Children, Youth and Family; Community Economic Development; and Rural Community Development projects. The types of projects for which Volunteers and their communities solicit vary based on the unique needs and priorities of their communities. Common Costa Rica projects include: sports development camps and equipment, HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention workshops, public infrastructure development including clinics and school playgrounds, classrooms, sports fields, libraries, and computer labs; and capacity building activities that develop knowledge and skills in one or more of the following areas: youth development, gender empowerment, business, fine arts, performing arts, music, English, information and communications technology, and life skills.
+
 
+
==See also==
+
* [[Volunteers who served in Costa Rica]]
+
* [[Pre-Departure Checklist]]
+
* [[List of resources for Costa Rica]]
+
 
+
==External links==
+
* [http://www.peacecorpsjournals.com/cs.html Peace Corps Journals - Costa Rica]
+
* [http://www.thebusschedule.com/cr Bus schedule of Costa Rica]
+
 
+
[[Category:Costa Rica]] [[Category:Central America and Mexico]]
+
[[Category:Country]]
+

Latest revision as of 06:56, 21 May 2014

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[edit]

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?[edit]

Possible Issues for Female Volunteers[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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.