So Peace Corps asked me to fill out this questionnaire that will be sent to the Ukrainian individuals I eventually will be working with and figured I'd share.
A: The professional attributes that you plan to use, and what aspirations you hope to fulfill, during your Peace Corps Service.
Looking back on the nine month process of getting accepted into the Peace Corps and rereading my initial application essay brought some clarity to all I hope to achieve in Ukraine. I was, and still am, extremely passionate about making a real difference in the lives of others, and I’m excited to be part of something radically different than what I might previously have believed to be a normal path.
During my high school and university careers, much of my volunteer work involved working with fellow students and faculty in order to educate, inform, and teach leadership and healthy living choices. I believe my background in this area will translate well to youth development in Ukraine. I am a very organized, reliable, and professional person who tends to intersperse work with moments of laughter. From my experience as both a teacher and student, I believe youths do not want to be lectured at, and that keeping the environment light-hearted from time to time seems to work best in information retention.
The most valuable technique I learned while working on my university’s orientation program was collaborative problem solving. Our greatest ideas always seem to come from a combination of diverse ideas and backgrounds, and I am excited to see the positive impact my Peace Corps group can have by brainstorming with people from all over the world.
And unlike my extracurricular work, my academic work in the Sciences was focused on efficiency, precision, and multi-tasking, rather than collaborative work. But I think this unique combination of experiences has taught me to be a very versatile and adaptive individual who will happily thrive as a Youth Development volunteer.
B: Your strategies for working effectively with host country partners to meet expressed needs.
The Peace Corps hosted a video and Q&A seminar in my hometown last year, and as an attendee I received the book “Tales of Peace Corps Service”. After reading through it, I realized a few things: change does not happen overnight, and the American idea of quick transactions and a hyper-paced lifestyle is not something shared by the rest of the world. Going into the service knowing this, I hope to count small changes as large achievements.
I also believe gaining community respect is key to understanding expressed needs and initiating small steps towards change. As a Youth Development volunteer, enacting small changes in the youth can have significant effects in future generations, and I think that’s really exciting! Learning the local language of either Ukrainian or Russian will be the first step in initiating community respect and acceptance. By getting to know the Ukrainian people and culture, I feel I will be more apt to understand and empathize with the needs of the community.
C: Your strategies for adapting to a new culture with respect to your own cultural background.
I still have two months before I leave and am currently contemplating on what I can do to make my transition into a new society the smoothest it can be. I want to stay grounded in my values and experiences that I bring from the United States while at the same time be open to the new ideas and incite my service will bring.
I consider myself a pretty adaptive person by nature, and am more so when comfortable in a group setting. Having a base of local friends to learn and confide in is how I personally adapt to a new environment. I hope my pre-service family and other Peace Corps volunteers I work with are people I feel comfortable with who work similarly, in order to allow my transition to occur most effectively.
D: The skills and knowledge you hope to gain during pre-service training to best serve your future community and project.
While pre-service training is essential for learning the history and language of Ukraine, I am most excited to learn and share cultural aspects with the host family I will be staying with. Adapting to my new environment is key to staying safe and learning as much as possible. I really hope to gain a sense of home living with this family, because without it, I think the hardship of being so far from friends and family will be much harder to bare (especially being a Californian facing winter for the first time). Learning what my host family’s and community’s children are interested in and seeing what aspects of my own American culture they enjoy hearing about will be of a great benefit to projects and activities that I could create as a Youth Development volunteer.
Furthermore, I hope pre-service training teaches me to be a less reserved individual. Peace Corps is about meeting new people and making a network of communication to foster positive growth in the communities we work with and I hope to grow as a person to get the most out of my first twelve weeks in Ukraine.
E: How do you think Peace Corps service will influence your personal and professional aspirations after your service ends.
I really cannot even imagine how my life and outlook on life will change after my service in the Peace Corps. What I hope my service does is open up my perspective of the world as well as narrow my focus on what I hope to actually do in my life. With the professional fellows programs offered to RPCV (returned Peace Corps volunteers), I hope to use that narrowed focus to further my education in that field.