A. Professional attributes I plan to use, and aspirations I hope to fulfill, during Peace Corps service.
The professional attributes I plan to use include:
- Good communication skills – my strength is in reflective listening, summarizing concepts from interaction succinctly, making complex concepts easy to understand, strong verbal and written communication skills
- Initiative – I am self confident, motivated, and enjoy functioning autonomously
- Integrity – I am an honest and ethical hard working person
- Flexibility – I have years of experience in an ever changing work environment
- Creativity – I enjoy brainstorming to come up with creative solutions to problems
- Compassion – I have a heart for serving others
My primary aspiration in joining the Peace Corps is to serve others in a meaningful way, hopefully to have a lasting impact on the health of the people of Botswana. I also hope to learn more about global health and the complex nature of efforts to make positive change. I want to build relationships and gain insight into another culture, thereby enriching my life experience, so I can grow as an individual.
B. Strategies for working with host country partners to meet expressed need.
First I will assess the need. I will ask a lot of questions of those I partner with who work in the multiple facets of the HIV/AIDS Capacity Building Project, to gain clarification about the expressed need, the outcome we are trying to accomplish, and ask for direction on how they would like to use my skills. I will try to identify the expertise of each host country partner I encounter, so I can tap their knowledge and skills, and in doing so, hopefully show respect and value for them as coworkers. Then I will gather data on the specific topic, investigate strategies for meeting the need, and formulate a plan for my project. Next I will present the plan to the host country partners, and perhaps stakeholders in the community, to get feedback on how to improve the plan, be sure it is culturally appropriate, identify potential barriers, and gain consensus before proceeding. I will work on building relationships that foster open communication.
C. Strategies for adapting to a new culture with respect to my own cultural background.
My first strategy is to read all I can about Botswana: books, websites, and blogs, focusing on differences I see from my own WASP southern American culture, both positive and negative. I will take note of cultural differences I need to respect, with a nonjudgmental attitude. Then when I arrive in country, I can observe, ask questions, and listen, listen, listen. When I am placed with a host family, I will try to build relationships, so that I can ask more questions, gain insight in to day to day life, and learn new skills for integrating into the family and community. When placed in a community to begin my Peace Corps service, I will seek out relationships with coworkers, neighbors, and community leaders. I will participate in community events, be a good neighbor to others, make new friends and invite them into my home. I hope to make a Batswana best friend to mentor me in life there.
D. Skills and knowledge I hope to gain during pre-service training to best serve my future community and project.
To be effective in facilitating behavior change related to the prevention of HIV/AIDS in the community, I need to have a good understanding of the cultural norms related to sexual behavior in Botswana: age that young people typically begin to have sex, how women think, men think, and how that differs, communication among sexual partners, how comfortable parents are with talking to their children about sex, the role of the school system in sex education, and related topics. I also need to know the cultural attitudes about seeking health care in general, especially self responsibility for staying healthy and engaging in preventative health behaviors. I need to know what is important or motivating to the people of Botswana, what makes for a happy, meaningful life. I need to understand barriers to HIV/AIDS prevention, what strategies have been effective and what has not worked in the past. I need to learn more about the issue of gender inequality and the social and cultural issues that relate to it.
I hope to learn about cultural norms in the workplace, meaning the professional etiquette in relating to peers, superiors, and other employees.
I want to learn about the cultural norms for social relationships in the community.
I hope to be fluent in Setswana, at least at a beginning level.
I want to know all the secrets of how to function independently in the day to day activities of life in Botswana, especially what to do if a snake is in my yard. I want to learn how to cook the traditional foods of Botswana.
E. How I think Peace Corps service will influence my personal and professional aspirations after my service ends.
I know I will be a changed person, both personally and professionally. I would expect to have a more realistic perception of what a career in a global health initiative is like, to decide if I want to continue along that career path. Because I am older, I don’t expect my core values to change, but I do expect to gain a broader, richer, world view, that will impact how I interact with others, the lifestyle I choose, and my appreciation for my blessings in life, especially those I have as an American.