A. The professional attributes that you plan to use, and what aspirations you hope to fulfill, during your Peace Corps service…
Professional Attributes I plan to use…
- One attribute that I have found useful is that I am a fast learner. I will need that as I immediately will be learning Setswana, learning about the Botswana culture, learning about my host family, learning about my assignment, and many other things.
- I am a self-starter. I am strongly motivated to do a good job and I show initiative.
- I have always been a good team player, and can help facilitate decision making within a team to bring about a consensus decision.
- I am a good student and listener and am not afraid to ask a lot of questions in order to completely understand the problem.
- I am a good trainer/teacher with good written and verbal communication skills.
- I am good at planning, organizing, and coordinating projects.
- Writing may be part of my service. I have done some technical writing during my career, and keep a web journal.
- My work in Information Technology and Finance has trained me to have a mind for detail, and to be creative and flexible when looking for the answer to a problem.
Aspirations I hope to fulfill…
- When I complete my Peace Corps service I want to be able to look back and feel like I made a difference.
- I hope to become a real part of my community and make lasting friendships with my Botswana neighbors.
- I hope to have a chance to enjoy Botswana and the surrounding countries with my wife, and have experiences and memories that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
- I want to be a good role model to my children and other Americans by serving. Also I want to be a good example of an American to my Botswana neighbors.
B. Your strategies for working effectively with host country partners to meet expressed needs…
First I plan to be a diligent student of the Setswana language. I feel that my host country partners will appreciate my learning the language and accept me into their community more easily if I do.
I plan to listen and ask a lot of questions in order to fully understand their needs. I intend to make every effort to be as cooperative and helpful as I can be, and assist my host country partners where they need me.
Finally, after gaining the confidence of my host country partners, and after understanding their needs; I hope I will be able to initiate some new projects that will be beneficial to Botswana. Also, I plan to learn what other Peace Corps volunteers have done in the past, in case there are some projects that worked very well that could be adapted to what I am doing.
C. Your strategies for adapting to a new culture with respect to your own cultural background…
I have not had any experiences that would adequately prepare me for this. I have never had to adapt to a new culture and make it my home, and I know that adapting will be difficult. I expect the “culture shock” to affect me as much as it does anyone else.
The only thing I have gone through in my past that would be anything like this was when I went through “basic training” in the armed forces; but that only lasted two months, not two years.
My strategy will be first to listen and learn as much as possible to lessen surprises. I hope to quickly make close friends with my host family, and rely on them to “teach me the ropes”. Also I plan to look at adapting as a challenge, and an adventure, and keep my sense of humor. I plan to keep myself open to seeing the positive in each new thing.
D. The skills and knowledge you hope to gain during pre-service training to best serve your future community and project…
Of course learning Setswana will be vital. I want to be able to listen and learn, and I cannot do that effectively if I do not understand what the people in my community are saying. Also, I will need a good understanding of the cultural norms and expectations, so I can be accepted by my new community.
I hope to gain a better understanding of how the HIV/AIDS epidemic has affected the country of Botswana in general; and also how individuals are affected, and the needs that have been expressed in the past.
I hope to learn some successful methods and strategies that prior Peace Corps volunteers have used to deal with those needs successfully in the past with the intention of replicating or building on those.
E. How you think Peace Corps Service will influence your personal and professional aspirations after your service ends…
Personally, this will be one of the biggest challenges I have ever undertaken, and I am certain that the experience will change me in a positive way. If nothing else, it will be a huge confidence builder. I anticipate a change in the way I view the world once I live outside my country for an extended period, and a better understanding about how others view us. I am sure I will return with a greater appreciation for my own country; and also a realization that we could do without many of our creature comforts and material possessions if we had to.
Professionally, I am at the place in my life where my career is mostly behind me. I don’t plan to be idle in my retirement, however. I have enjoyed volunteering in the past and will continue to do so in the future. I am certain that in the Peace Corps I will learn a lot of strategies and skills that I can use when I return to this country and resume volunteering.