Difference between pages "Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Kazakhstan" and "Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Moldova"

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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 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 fulfilling its mandate to share the face of America with host countries, the Peace Corps is making special efforts to see that all of America’s richness is reflected in the Volunteer corps. More Americans of color are serving in today’s Peace Corps than at any time in recent years. Differences in race, ethnic background, age, religion, and sexual orientation are expected and welcomed among our Volunteers. Part of the Peace Corps’ mission is to help dispel any notion that Americans are all of one origin or race and to establish that each of us is as thoroughly American as the other despite our many differences.  
  
In other ways, however, our diversity poses challenges. In Kazakhstan, 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.
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Our diversity helps us accomplish that goal. In other ways, however, it poses challenges. In Moldova, 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 Moldova.  
  
Outside of Kazakhstan’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 Kazakhstan 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. Volunteers need to be supportive of one another.
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Outside of Moldova’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 Moldova 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.  
  
In order to ease the 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, women 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.  
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To ease the transition and adapt to life in Moldova, 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 pre-service training and will be on call to provide support, but the challenge ultimately will be your own.  
  
===Overview of Diversity in Kazakhstan ===
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===Overview of Diversity in Moldova ===
  
The Peace Corps staff in Kazakhstan recognizes 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 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.  
+
The Peace Corps staff in Moldova 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 races, ethnic groups, ages, religions, and sexual orientations, and hope that you will become part of a diverse group of Americans who take pride in supporting one another and demonstrating the richness of American culture.  
  
 
===What Might a Volunteer Face? ===
 
===What Might a Volunteer Face? ===
  
====Possible Issues for Female Volunteers====
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The comments below are intended to stimulate thought and discussion. They come from a cross-section of Volunteers who have served in Moldova. The issues discussed may or may not be relevant to your own Volunteer experience; they are here simply to make all Volunteers aware of issues that various groups may have to deal with.
  
Kazakhstan is a traditional, patriarchal society. It is among the challenges of living and working in Kazakhstan to cope effectively and constructively with the differing status of women and men and the different standards of behavior to which they are held. To promote greater understanding, many Volunteers participate in Women in Development (WID) and Gender and Development (GAD).
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====Possible Issues for Female Volunteers ====
  
Female Volunteers may:
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Traditional or stereotyped gender roles are more prevalent in Moldova than they are in the United States. One estimate stated that Moldovan women do 300 percent more work in the home than men do. And it is common for a man to enter a room and shake every other man’s hand while completely ignoring the women who are present. Although Americans are often bothered by such behavior, women do not have a subordinate role in Moldova. Historically, they have been a vital part of the workforce, taking on both managerial and supervisory positions. Moldovan women work as school administrators, business owners, doctors, local government officials, and members of Parliament.
  
* find that being a single woman living alone is not the cultural norm;
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Female Volunteers should not expect, however, to be able to continue all of their American practices in Moldova. Adapting to local mores and customs is a necessity for Peace Corps Volunteers wherever they are. Moldovan women generally lead more restricted lifestyles than American women do. For instance, Moldovan women do not go out alone at night, and jogging or walking alone for exercise is uncommon. Women in villages do not usually smoke in public, and all Moldovans tend to speak more quietly than Americans do in public places. While these activities are not forbidden for Volunteers, sometimes they have to make compromises and alter their behavior. Female Volunteers are advised to avoid eye contact with men who are strangers, especially on buses and in the street.  
* receive more unwanted and inappropriate attention from men than in the United States; and
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* have to work harder than male Volunteers to gain the respect of host-country colleagues. Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color
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====Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color ====
  
Volunteers of color may work and live with individuals who have had no experience with or understanding of the African-American, Hispanic American or Asian-American culture. Volunteers of color may be evaluated as less professionally competent than white Volunteers; they may be treated suspiciously, especially in rural areas of Kazakhstan. They may be the only minority trainee or Volunteer. The Russian word for a black or dark-skinned person sounds like the English word “Negro.” As such, its use is not meant as a racial slur. Asian-American Volunteers may not be accepted as Americans. They may be identified by their cultural heritage, not by their American citizenship. They may have to deal with peoples’ higher expectations of their language learning ability or cross-cultural adaptability.  
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African-American Volunteers often express frustration and disappointment at being asked where they are from because when they answer “African American” or “black American,” some Moldovans react with surprise or disbelief. Although they may be the subject of constant stares and questions as well as occasional insults, most African-American Volunteers say they are well accepted in their communities after an initial settling-in period. There is a small population of students and businesspeople from Africa in Chisinau, and some African Americans are assigned to the U.S. Embassy.  
  
====Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers ====
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Hispanic American Volunteers have found that some Moldovans stereotype them as similar to the characters they watch in the popular Latin American soap operas on TV.  Because there is a small population of Romany (Gypsies) in Moldova, some Volunteers have been misidentified and have been the subjects of verbal harassment.
  
Respect comes with age in Kazakhstan. Younger Volunteers may have to work harder than their older colleagues to be accepted as professionals. On the other hand, older Volunteers may face challenges solely due to their age. Throughout your service, you will be working and living with individuals in the Peace Corps community (the majority of Volunteers are in their 20s) who may have little understanding of, or respect for, the lives and experiences of senior Americans.  Your interactions with Peace Corps staff may be different than that of younger Volunteers. Staff may not give you the necessary personal support, while at the same time, you may be reluctant to share your personal, sexual, or health concerns with the staff. You may find that younger Volunteers look to you for advice or support. While some seniors find this an enjoyable part of their Volunteer experience, others choose not to fill this role.  
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Asian-American Volunteers often find that they stand out more than Caucasians, as there are relatively few East Asians (i.e., Japanese, Chinese, Southeast Asians) in Moldova. People often assume that such Volunteers are from China, and may be skeptical that they are Americans and speak English. While much of this extra attention is not intended to be negative, it can be tiresome. The situation soon goes away in your host village, but may recur when you visit other cities and towns. Several Asian-American Volunteers have been stopped by police to check identification papers much more frequently than their counterpart Caucasian Volunteers.  
  
Peace Corps countries vary greatly in the physical and human resources available for in-country training. Some senior trainees have encountered inattentiveness to their needs for an effective learning environment, including timing, presentation of materials, comfort level, and health. You may need to be assertive in developing an effective individual approach to language learning.
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====Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers ====
  
====Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers ====
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Respect comes with age in Moldova. Younger Volunteers may have to work harder than their older colleagues to be accepted as professionals. It is not uncommon for younger Volunteers to look to older Volunteers for advice and support. Some seniors find this a very enjoyable part of their Volunteer experience, while others choose not to fill this role.  Overall, senior Volunteers are highly valued for the wealth of experience they bring to their communities and counterparts.
  
While homosexuality certainly exists in Kazakhstan, there may not be as much cultural acceptance as there was in a Volunteer’s home community. Moreover, host country acceptance of homosexuality among nationals may be quite different from their acceptance of homosexuality among foreigners. Lesbian, gay, or bisexual Volunteers may serve for two years without meeting another gay Volunteer. Straight Volunteers and staff may not be able to give needed support.
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====Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Volunteers ====
  
Most lesbian, gay, or bisexual host-country nationals will have migrated to the larger cities, while many Volunteers are posted in rural sites, where cultural difficulties may be greater. Though relationships with host-country nationals can occur, they may not be easy and could result in dangerous situations. AIDS (SPID in Russian) is a critical issue in many countries, including Kazakhstan. There is a backlash being felt by gay American men for supposedly bringing the disease into some areas.  
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Homosexuality is misunderstood and generally not accepted by most Moldovans, and discussing the issue of sexual orientation may be problematic. It is advisable to use discretion because you may experience difficulties if your community becomes aware of your sexual orientation, compromising your ability to be effective. The Peace Corps staff in Moldova can provide you with information on organizations in Moldova that are working on issues concerning sexual orientation. Additionally, there is a Volunteer gender work group of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and supportive straight Volunteers; its coordinator can provide you with information. You may also find helpful information on serving in the Peace Corps as a gay or lesbian from a group of returned Volunteers affiliated with the National Peace Corps Association (for more information, go to www.lgbrpcv.org; for country-specific information, go to www.gay.md).  
  
Civil liberties are sometimes nonexistent or ignoredHomosexuals may be hassled in bars or on streets. Lesbians will face constant questions about boyfriends, marriage, and sex (as do all women). Wearing an “engagement ring” may help. Gay men must deal with machismo: talk of conquests, girl watching, and dirty jokes.
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Gay and lesbian Volunteers can (and do) have a very productive service and a positive experience here in MoldovaHowever, there are some issues you will face in Moldova that may be quite different from what you were used to in the States. There is a small community of gay, lesbian, and bisexual Moldovans in Chisinau, which is becoming increasingly active and hosts social events, but there are few other social activities or meeting places. As a result, many gays and lesbians experience feelings of loneliness and isolation. This is especially true for those who choose closeted lives in communities outside of Chisinau. As a result, you will encounter bias and prejudice about gays and lesbians. You will need to be cautious about who you come out to amongst your Moldovan friends. However, you are encouraged to be out with Peace Corps staff and Volunteers to lessen the feeling of isolation. Peace Corps/Moldova is committed to ensuring an environment that is safe, secure, and accepting of all forms of diversity, and gays, lesbians and bisexuals should feel comfortable talking about whatever issues they are facing. You will find staff and your Volunteer peers to be very supportive.  
  
 
====Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers ====
 
====Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers ====
  
Volunteers are free to exercise their personal religious beliefs, but you may not engage in religious proselytizing or otherwise engage in activities that could be contrary to law or would impair your effectiveness as a Volunteer.  
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There are no official or societal restrictions with regard to religious belief in Moldova. The primary religion is Eastern Orthodox Christianity, which is divided between those affiliated with the Romanian Orthodox Church and those affiliated with the Russian Orthodox Church. There are also congregations of Jews, Roman Catholics, Baptists, Seventh-Day Adventists, Mormons, and others. Religion is an important part of life for many, but by no means all, Moldovans. Most towns and villages have at least one Orthodox church, and some also have small Baptist churches.
 
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====Possible Issues for Volunteers with Disabilities ====
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As a disabled Volunteer in Kazakhstan, you may find that you face a special set of challenges. In Kazakhstan, as in other parts of the world, some people may hold prejudicial attitudes about individuals with disabilities and may discriminate against them. There is little to no infrastructure to accommodate individuals with disabilities.
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====Possible Issues for Volunteers With Disabilities ====
  
As part of the medical clearance process, the Peace Corps Office of Medical Services determined that you are physically and emotionally capable, with or without reasonable accommodation, to perform a full tour of Volunteer service in Kazakhstan. Your service should be without unreasonable risk of harm to yourself or interruption during your time in Kazakhstan.  
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As a disabled Volunteer in Moldova, you may find that you face a special set of challenges. In Moldova, as in other parts of the world, some people may hold prejudicial attitudes about individuals with disabilities and may discriminate against them. In addition, there is little of the infrastructure to accommodate individuals with disabilities that has been developed in the United States.  
  
The Peace Corps/Kazakhstan staff will work with disabled Volunteers to make reasonable accommodations for them in their training, housing, job sites, or in other areas, to enable them to serve safely and effectively.  
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Nonetheless, 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, of serving in Moldova without unreasonable risk of harm to yourself or interruption of your service. The Peace Corps/Moldova staff will work with disabled Volunteers to make reasonable accommodations for them in training, housing, job sites, or other areas to enable them to serve safely and effectively.  
  
[[Category:Kazakhstan]]
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[[Category:Moldova]]

Revision as of 14:47, 7 December 2015

Country Resources

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

Our diversity helps us accomplish that goal. In other ways, however, it poses challenges. In Moldova, 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 Moldova.

Outside of Moldova’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 Moldova 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 Moldova, 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 pre-service training and will be on call to provide support, but the challenge ultimately will be your own.

Overview of Diversity in Moldova

The Peace Corps staff in Moldova 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 races, ethnic groups, ages, religions, and sexual orientations, and hope that you will become part of a diverse group of Americans who take pride in supporting one another and demonstrating the richness of American culture.

What Might a Volunteer Face?

The comments below are intended to stimulate thought and discussion. They come from a cross-section of Volunteers who have served in Moldova. The issues discussed may or may not be relevant to your own Volunteer experience; they are here simply to make all Volunteers aware of issues that various groups may have to deal with.

Possible Issues for Female Volunteers

Traditional or stereotyped gender roles are more prevalent in Moldova than they are in the United States. One estimate stated that Moldovan women do 300 percent more work in the home than men do. And it is common for a man to enter a room and shake every other man’s hand while completely ignoring the women who are present. Although Americans are often bothered by such behavior, women do not have a subordinate role in Moldova. Historically, they have been a vital part of the workforce, taking on both managerial and supervisory positions. Moldovan women work as school administrators, business owners, doctors, local government officials, and members of Parliament.

Female Volunteers should not expect, however, to be able to continue all of their American practices in Moldova. Adapting to local mores and customs is a necessity for Peace Corps Volunteers wherever they are. Moldovan women generally lead more restricted lifestyles than American women do. For instance, Moldovan women do not go out alone at night, and jogging or walking alone for exercise is uncommon. Women in villages do not usually smoke in public, and all Moldovans tend to speak more quietly than Americans do in public places. While these activities are not forbidden for Volunteers, sometimes they have to make compromises and alter their behavior. Female Volunteers are advised to avoid eye contact with men who are strangers, especially on buses and in the street.

Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color

African-American Volunteers often express frustration and disappointment at being asked where they are from because when they answer “African American” or “black American,” some Moldovans react with surprise or disbelief. Although they may be the subject of constant stares and questions as well as occasional insults, most African-American Volunteers say they are well accepted in their communities after an initial settling-in period. There is a small population of students and businesspeople from Africa in Chisinau, and some African Americans are assigned to the U.S. Embassy.

Hispanic American Volunteers have found that some Moldovans stereotype them as similar to the characters they watch in the popular Latin American soap operas on TV. Because there is a small population of Romany (Gypsies) in Moldova, some Volunteers have been misidentified and have been the subjects of verbal harassment.

Asian-American Volunteers often find that they stand out more than Caucasians, as there are relatively few East Asians (i.e., Japanese, Chinese, Southeast Asians) in Moldova. People often assume that such Volunteers are from China, and may be skeptical that they are Americans and speak English. While much of this extra attention is not intended to be negative, it can be tiresome. The situation soon goes away in your host village, but may recur when you visit other cities and towns. Several Asian-American Volunteers have been stopped by police to check identification papers much more frequently than their counterpart Caucasian Volunteers.

Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers

Respect comes with age in Moldova. Younger Volunteers may have to work harder than their older colleagues to be accepted as professionals. It is not uncommon for younger Volunteers to look to older Volunteers for advice and support. Some seniors find this a very enjoyable part of their Volunteer experience, while others choose not to fill this role. Overall, senior Volunteers are highly valued for the wealth of experience they bring to their communities and counterparts.

Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Volunteers

Homosexuality is misunderstood and generally not accepted by most Moldovans, and discussing the issue of sexual orientation may be problematic. It is advisable to use discretion because you may experience difficulties if your community becomes aware of your sexual orientation, compromising your ability to be effective. The Peace Corps staff in Moldova can provide you with information on organizations in Moldova that are working on issues concerning sexual orientation. Additionally, there is a Volunteer gender work group of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and supportive straight Volunteers; its coordinator can provide you with information. You may also find helpful information on serving in the Peace Corps as a gay or lesbian from a group of returned Volunteers affiliated with the National Peace Corps Association (for more information, go to www.lgbrpcv.org; for country-specific information, go to www.gay.md).

Gay and lesbian Volunteers can (and do) have a very productive service and a positive experience here in Moldova. However, there are some issues you will face in Moldova that may be quite different from what you were used to in the States. There is a small community of gay, lesbian, and bisexual Moldovans in Chisinau, which is becoming increasingly active and hosts social events, but there are few other social activities or meeting places. As a result, many gays and lesbians experience feelings of loneliness and isolation. This is especially true for those who choose closeted lives in communities outside of Chisinau. As a result, you will encounter bias and prejudice about gays and lesbians. You will need to be cautious about who you come out to amongst your Moldovan friends. However, you are encouraged to be out with Peace Corps staff and Volunteers to lessen the feeling of isolation. Peace Corps/Moldova is committed to ensuring an environment that is safe, secure, and accepting of all forms of diversity, and gays, lesbians and bisexuals should feel comfortable talking about whatever issues they are facing. You will find staff and your Volunteer peers to be very supportive.

Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers

There are no official or societal restrictions with regard to religious belief in Moldova. The primary religion is Eastern Orthodox Christianity, which is divided between those affiliated with the Romanian Orthodox Church and those affiliated with the Russian Orthodox Church. There are also congregations of Jews, Roman Catholics, Baptists, Seventh-Day Adventists, Mormons, and others. Religion is an important part of life for many, but by no means all, Moldovans. Most towns and villages have at least one Orthodox church, and some also have small Baptist churches.

Possible Issues for Volunteers With Disabilities

As a disabled Volunteer in Moldova, you may find that you face a special set of challenges. In Moldova, as in other parts of the world, some people may hold prejudicial attitudes about individuals with disabilities and may discriminate against them. In addition, there is little of the infrastructure to accommodate individuals with disabilities that has been developed in the United States.

Nonetheless, 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, of serving in Moldova without unreasonable risk of harm to yourself or interruption of your service. The Peace Corps/Moldova staff will work with disabled Volunteers to make reasonable accommodations for them in training, housing, job sites, or other areas to enable them to serve safely and effectively.