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|−|This list has been compiled by Volunteers serving in [[Tonga]] 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. As you decide what to bring, keep in mind that you have an 80-pound weight restriction on baggage. Remember, you can get almost everything you need in Tonga for a price, and you can have parcels shipped to you later. |+|
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General Clothing === |+|
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|−|Note that hand washing and Tongan weather are hard on clothing, so any clothing you bring will eventually wear out. Lightweight, fast-drying clothing (polyester or nylon) is best and will not fade or stretch as much as cotton blends. See the note about leather items and mildew at the bottom of this page. |+|
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|−|Dressing in a culturally appropriate manner is important, especially on outer islands. In professional settings, male Volunteers are expected to wear what Tongan men wear—a tupenu, a solid-color wraparound garment (easily found locally), with a button-down shirt. During leisure time, Tongan men typically wear the same things men wear in the United States (e.g., knee-length shorts or slacks and T-shirts). Female Volunteers are expected to wear mid-calf or longer skirts or dresses in both professional settings and during leisure time. |+|
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|−|If the dresses/skirts are not long enough, long wraparound underskirts are available. Tight clothing can also be culturally inappropriate. At home or on some occasions, women often wear loose-fitting slacks, capris pants or below-the-knee shorts. In general, women should always cover their shoulders and knees and should not wear shorts except for swimming or exercising. Additionally, you should not be able to see your armpits or midriff when raising your arms. |+|
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|−|Following are some specific clothing suggestions and recommendations: |+|
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|−|* 1 or 2 black outfits (There are numerous times when it will be appropriate for you to wear black. For instance, in case of a death in the Royal Family or of someone in your community, you may be expected to wear black for an extended period of time. However, you can always buy more clothes here.) |+|
|−|* 1 or 2 sweatshirts or sweaters and sweatpants (it can get a bit chilly in winter) |+|
|−|* Lightweight spring jacket/rain jacket |+|
|−|* Lightweight suit jacket, black or dark. (Note: unmarried men can usually make do with a tie and a long-sleeved shirt) |+|
|−|* Swimsuit or swim trunks (even though women will not be able to wear a swimsuit in Tonga, it is a good idea to bring one for vacations) |+|
|−|* Socks and underwear (with sturdy elastic) |+|
|−|* Shoes, including high-quality flip-flops (e.g., Tevas, reef walkers, or water shoes), sneakers, hiking boots, and dress sandals (for men and women). Don’t bring nice leather shoes. |+|
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|−|===For Men === |+|
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|−|* Two or three light T-shirts |+|
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|−|* Both black and white button-down shirts |+|
|−|* Jeans and lightweight pants (khakis or loose-fitting pants with drawstrings; one pair of each should suffice) |+|
|−|* Convertible (zip-off leg) pants |+|
|−|* Lots of lightweight, collared, short-sleeved, button-down-the-front shirts (enough for work and church, for every day but Saturday) and at least one tie and a long-sleeved shirt to go with it |+|
|−|* Shorts for your own house or exercise |+|
|−|* Bicycle or cotton shorts for modesty and comfort under tupenu (men’s skirt). |+|
|−|===For Women === |+|
|−|* Casual dresses or mix-and-match skirts and blouses (for work and in public, including church, skirts should be mid-calf to ankle length, and blouses should not be sleeveless, see-through or have bare midriffs). |+|
|−|* Underwear, bras (cotton is best), and sports bras (wickaway fabric [e.g., Coolmax] is effective) |+|
|−|* Undershirts or camisoles for sheer blouses |+|
|−|* One or two pairs of capris or lightweight long pants for hiking and free time (jeans are acceptable, but a bit heavy and annoying to wash) |+|
|−|* Bike shorts and/or slips for modesty and comfort under skirts (remember that Tonga is very humid) |+|
|−|Personal Hygiene and Toiletry Items |+|
|−|* Lightweight or travel (micro-fiber) towel (thick ones won't do well with hand washing and will take a long time to dry, especially during periods of daily rainstorms) |+|
|−|* Initial supply of your favorite shampoo, deodorant, perfume, etc. (Tongans place a high importance on hygiene, and offensive odors are particularly objectionable in Tongan culture. ) Note that some brands of all of these items are available here and you should only bring them if you are particularly attached to a certain brand. . |+|
|−|* Cosmetics, if you wear them (local products generally are not of good quality) |+|
|−|* Six-month supply of tampons or pads (tampons are not always available in Tonga, and they are expensive) |+|
|−|* 2 or 3 Handkerchiefs (multi-purpose; e.g., for dishes, cleaning, sweat rags, etc.) |+|
|−|* Remember, Peace Corps will supply medical items like vitamins, insect repellent, and sunscreen |+|
|−|* hand sanitizer (e. g., Purell), if you want it |+|
|−|* Baby powder or talcum powder, if you have oily skin |+|
|−|* Small mirror |+|
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|−|===Kitchen === |+|
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|−|(Many of these items can be found in Tonga, but of reduced quality. You are encouraged to prioritize these items as you see fit, keeping in mind your limited luggage capacity.) |+|
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|−|* Swiss army knife, Leatherman, or other utility tool (packed in checked luggage) |+|
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|−|* Sharp kitchen knife (packed in checked baggage) |+|
|−|* Nonstick frying pan (those in Tonga are not of good quality) |+|
|−|* Sturdy manual can opener |+|
|−|* A French press or stove-top espresso maker (if you like coffee). Instant coffee is available here; but decaf coffee is not. |+|
|−|* Measuring spoons and cups |+|
|−|* Rubber spatula |+|
|−|* Spices/hot sauce (e.g., Tabasco) |+|
|−|* Gum |+|
|−|* Vegetable holder (three- basket, hanging) |+|
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|−|* Luggage: lockable rolling duffel bags work best (make sure locks are the ones approved by airlines—otherwise they will be cut off). You should also be able to manage all of your luggage without the assistance of others. You will also want a smaller bag to use for your pre-service training homestay. |+|
|−|* Small backpack |+|
|−|* Sheets (double flats are most useful because they fit either a double or a single bed) |+|
|−|* Sturdy, inexpensive water-resistant watch |+|
|−|* Sturdy water bottles (at least two; e.g., Nalgene or camel back) |+|
|−|* Camera: 35 mm (with an initial supply of film) or digital is recommended. Also consider an underwater camera. Film processing and printing is expensive and only available on Tongatapu and Vava'u. Consider extra memory cards and multiple rolls of film. |+|
|−|* Flashlight or headlamp (LED preferred) and/or reading lamp/book light |+|
|−|* Mask and snorkel or swimming goggles |+|
|−|* Small sewing kit |+|
|−|* Umbrella and/or poncho |+|
|−|* Rechargeable batteries and charger (batteries are available, but are generally of poor quality and there is no way to properly dispose of them) |+|
|−|* Walkman or CD player and CDs (many Volunteers choose a portable CD player with small attachable speakers) or mp3 player (e.g., iPod) or small boom box |+|
|−|* Bicycle (some Volunteers highly recommend bringing one because of the poor quality of local brands; others say bringing one is not worth the added weight). If you decide to bring a bicycle, then a bicycle tool kit and inner tubes are recommended. The Peace Corps will provide a helmet. |+|
|−|* Laptop computer—if you already own one, it may be worth bringing, as many Volunteers find it very helpful to have one. Conditions are hard on computers, but insurance is available. Most locations have electricity though a small number of assignments are in locations that have electricity only at certain times or not at all. |+|
|−|* Electrical converter for 210 volts (the same as Australia). |+|
|−|* Jump Drive for easy computer information storage and transportation |+|
|−|* Sunglasses |+|
|−|* Sun hat or visor |+|
|−|* Ear plugs |+|
|−|* Travel iron (with a converter and adapter) |+|
|−|* Extra pair of glasses |+|
|−|* Tape recorder |+|
|−|* School supplies (e.g., highlighters, index cards, stapler and staples, glue sticks, rubber bands, paper, laminating sheets, etc.) |+|
|−| Waterproof zippered plastic bags to help protect valuables and to keep clothes and important papers dry. Don’t bring anything made from leather, including shoes, belts, and wallets. They will mildew. |+|
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In fulfilling its mandate to share the face of America with host countries, the Peace Corps makes special efforts to see that all of America’s richness is reflected in the Volunteer corps. Differences in race, ethnic background, age, religion, and sexual orientation are expected and welcomed among our Volunteers. Part of the Peace Corps’ mission is to help dispel any notion that Americans are all of one origin or race and to establish that each of us is as thoroughly American as the other.
While our diversity helps us accomplish that goal, in other ways it poses challenges. In Peru, as in other Peace Corps host countries, Volunteers’ backgrounds, beliefs, lifestyles, and behaviors are judged in a cultural context different from our own.
The people of Peru are 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. Outside of Peru’s capital, residents have had less direct exposure to other cultures, races, religions, and lifestyles.
To adapt to life in Peru, you may need to make some compromises in how you present yourself as an individual.
Female trainees and Volunteers may not be able to exercise as much independence as they do in the United States; political discussions need to be handled with great care; and some of your personal beliefs or orientations may best remain undisclosed. You will need to develop techniques and personal strategies for coping with these issues. 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.
Gender roles in Peru are different from those in the United States, and it is important to understand them to be effective and to find personal satisfaction in your project assignment. Most Peruvian women have traditional roles, especially in rural areas, where they run the household, prepare meals, clean, and rear children. In addition, many women work in the fields, run small businesses, and care for farm animals. Men also have specific roles, and “manliness” is very important.
It is not uncommon for women to experience stares, comments, and requests for dates on the street and in other situations. Female Volunteers are obvious targets because they generally look different from Peruvian women. Female Volunteers may have to accept certain constraints that male Volunteers do not, and adjust to different norms, behaviors, and ways of doing things.
Male Volunteers also encounter harassment, but less frequently. Male Volunteers may be teased about not being “manly” enough for not pursuing women or drinking. Male Volunteers who cook, wash clothes and dishes, and clean the house may be considered strange by their neighbors.
Peru has many ethnic groups, including large Chinese and Japanese populations, and an Afro-Peruvian community concentrated in Lima and other coastal areas. Peruvians from these minority groups, particularly Afro-Peruvians, are sometimes subject to subtle forms of discrimination, and Volunteers, including African-American Volunteers, may experience similar treatment.
All Volunteers may hear racial comments while on the street, although the comments are more likely to be descriptive than derogatory. For example, persons of Asian descent are called Chinos, whether or not they are of Chinese descent. All Volunteers, but particularly Volunteers of color, will be subjected to a variety of questions, comments, and perhaps even jokes regarding their race or ethnicity. While some of these may be mean-spirited, most will be innocent, arising from unfamiliarity with or misinformation about other races and cultures. You will find it helpful to maintain a positive attitude about yourself and to approach any negative comments with patience and confidence. Peruvians, particularly in rural areas, tend to think all Americans are Caucasian and may express disbelief when you introduce yourself as an American. The need for repeated explanations of your ethnic background may become tiresome, but it is a wonderful opportunity to explain the rich cultural diversity of the United States to Peruvians.
In general, older members of the community are well-respected in Peru. Specific challenges for senior Volunteers are often related to language acquisition and adaptation to the basic living conditions of Peru. Also, because most Volunteers are in their 20s, seniors may find that developing a peer support system within the Volunteer community is a challenge.
While there is some openness about sexual orientation in the larger cities, homosexuality is not looked upon favorably in smaller communities. We recommend that gay, lesbian, and bisexual Volunteers be circumspect about their sexual orientation with their Peruvian colleagues, particularly at first. Once established in their site, each Volunteer will make the decision with whom to discuss their sexual orientation. Support mechanisms are available within the Peace Corps community and from Peace Corps staff.
Roman Catholicism is the dominant religion in Peru. Many other religious groups are present and visible around the country, and tolerance of all religions is fairly high. In some smaller communities, divisions exist across religious lines, and Volunteers need to understand these and be careful about being seen as aligned with one side or the other. If you are an observant member of any religion, particularly a non-Christian one, it may be challenging to explain your beliefs to Peruvians. Obtaining special foods and locating a place of worship for major holidays may also be a challenge. Lima has places of worship for most major religions, including several synagogues for the Jewish population.
As a disabled Volunteer in Peru, you will face a special set of challenges. There is very little infrastructure to accommodate those with disabilities, and few places make any accommodation for those with physical disabilities. The major cities do, however, offer some institutional support for those with disabilities.
As part of the medical clearance process, the Peace Corps Office of Medical Services determined that you were physically and emotionally capable, with or without reasonable accommodations, to perform a full tour of Volunteer service in Peru without unreasonable risk of harm to yourself or interruption of your service. Peace Corps/Peru staff will work with disabled Volunteers to make reasonable accommodations in training, housing, job sites, and other areas to enable them to serve safely and effectively.