Expectations are planted
After accepting your Peace Corps Assignment, Peace Corps requires Invitees to complete an aspiration statement and Resume to be viewed by the in-country staff. The Format for the Aspiration Statement is as follows:
Strategies for adapting to a new culture
Personal and professional goals
(please note: PC prefers responses limited to one typed page)
The Following Aspiration Statement will be submitted tomorrow, June 26, 2004:
Expectations are planted, like seeds, deep into the furrows of every volunteer’s mind. Come harvest time, the expectations I have sown should be flexible enough to bend easily with the changing winds of community needs. I expect my Peace Corp service to be almost nothing like I pictured it. I expect to be challenged by language and Kyrgyzstani culture and mildly frustrated with the remnants of soviet bureaucracy. I expect pre-service training to provide me with a foundation of the policies, skills and resources that are necessary to equip a creative, patient, practical volunteer for two years of SEOD service. I expect to learn much about the operation, structure, and implementation of NGOs. Finally, I expect my PC service will yield more rewards than I ever could have imagined.
Strategies for adapting to a new culture are often subjective and dependent on the world-view of the individual adapting. For me, strategy begins at home: absorbing cultural information; familiarizing myself with the Cyrillic alphabet and basic Russian and Kyrgyz languages; reading PCV blogs, NGO development manuals and RPCV books (such as, This Is Not Civilization (2004) and The Great Adventure (1997)). Having studied two semesters abroad in Thailand (8/94-2/95) and Indonesia (12/95-6/96), I understand that almost nothing is what you expect it to be. Flexibility, patience, creativity, and a sense of humor are often called upon to endure those times when Reality and Expectations don’t quite meet eye-to-eye.
When thirty-years of flesh plop down in a foreign country, adaptation becomes a bridge between the old self and the amorphous, future You. In order to cross this bridge without falling, I plan on holding on to two fundamentals that run like handrails across the cultural divide. First, I will hold onto my desire to learn the language(s) as best I can. And second, I plan on remaining patient and refraining from fast judgments based on incomplete knowledge of a culture I am trying to understand. By holding onto these fundamentals, I hope to look back and see that I have crossed into a Kyrgyzstan that is a little less foreign than when my journey began.
Personal and professional goals can not be over-stated. My becoming a PCV was not spawned from a directionless decision to do something with my life after college. I am not wet behind the ears and dripping with naiveté. I am a licensed attorney, who is consumed more by a desire to contribute to the good of the world than the consumption of worldly-goods. I chose Peace Corps and happily Peace Corps chose me. That said, my personal goals remain quite simple: maintain patience and flexibility, learn the language and history of the Kyrgyz peoples, participate in cultural events and complete my service. Professionally, I hope my Peace Corps experience will assist me in further developing a skill-set that may be utilized throughout the remainder of my life. Whether I continue down an international path of NGO development work, pursue a career with the Foreign Service or choose to return to the practice of law, my goal as a PCV is to acquire the knowledge and experience necessary to assist regardless of where my life takes me.
Posted by Elinda Tarra Lie