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Posts tagged ‘peace corps invitation’

Peace Corps South Africa Aspiration Statement

After I accepted my invitation to serve in South Africa, I had to do a lot of things quickly — apply for my visa, renew my passport, get the yellow fever vaccine, update my resume and write an aspiration statement. Here’s my aspiration statement, which is the first glimpse the Peace Corps staff in South Africa has of me!

A) The professional attributes that you plan to use, and what aspirations you hope to accomplish during your Peace Corps service:

During my Peace Corps service, I plan to use professional skills I attained through my year of domestic service with AmeriCorps as a City Year corps member. Working in a classroom taught me preparation and organizational skills, which I plan to use when structuring my lectures for my classroom. Likewise, I plan to practice my teaching and lectures before actually delivering lectures to my students so I am prepared and don’t run into any difficulties that could have been avoided. I will set realistic goals and expectations for myself as a school teacher, other teachers and for my students based on their age, grade level and English experience. It is also important that I use my creativity to develop fun lessons for my students and share best practices with other teachers about teaching and subjects being taught. My interpersonal communication skills will also come in handy to connect with other Volunteers and South Africans I will be working with. The aspirations I hope to fulfill as a Peace Corps Volunteer range from becoming a better educator to making lifelong friends and family. I hope to use these two years as a school teacher to give me the utter most confidence to teach in the future. I aspire to give my students as decent of an education about English and HIV/AIDS as they can receive, regardless of the lack of resources there may be at their school, as I have done so with City Year. I understand that change is a slow process, but although I may not see any direct change within my classroom for a long time, I want to know that I made a difference in at least one person’s life. I want to fulfill integrating myself into a culture different from my own and truly feeling part of that culture. I dream to find friends and people I can call family through my community, Volunteer group and host family.

B) Your strategies for working effectively with host country partners to meet expressed needs:

One of my strategies for working effectively with host country partners is understanding the cultural norms of women in South African society. I will dress appropriately and professionally and withhold some of my personal beliefs that women may not be able to express in portions of South Africa. I will also adhere to the religious protocol. Although I am not religious, I will openly take part in, respect and learn my community’s religion. I will work hard to ensure that my young age does not hinder my success as a Volunteer. These measures will help meet expressed needs in schools because I will be taken more seriously as a school teacher. Likewise, I will use my communication skills and be very personable with those around me to create a welcoming environment, which will show my community counterparts that I am a hardworking and genuine person who wants to experience their culture and is honored to be living in the community.

C) Your strategies for adapting to a new culture with respect to our your own cultural background:

My strategies to adapt to a culture different from my own start by bringing the minimal number of American things I use consistently like advanced technology, stylish clothing and food items. Although it may be hard in the beginning without such things, if I live like the community, I will adapt to it more easily. I will always keep who I am as a part of me — like my tattoo on my wrist that says “hold fast to dreams” that is a symbol for my ambitions in life — but I know I will have to cover it up with jewelry, a watch or clothing due to cultural norms; that’s one way of conforming to South African culture, but also not losing sight of who I am as a person. A major part of who I am is also that I enjoy writing nonfiction stories about my experiences, which is something I won’t have to give up when assimilating to a new culture. Journalism reporting is the most important to me culturally, so I think being able to keep writing will allow me to take in other aspects of South African culture easily like food, language, religion, living arrangements and traditions.

D) The skills and knowledge you hope to gain during pre-service training to best serve your future community project:

The knowledge I hope to attain at pre-service training is supplemental material about South African history, politics, economy and how these subjects relate to the educational system. I plan to do a lot of research beforehand, but I hope pre-service training is somewhat like a college lecture — I read and then the trainer supplements the research I’ve already done for a greater understanding. I want to learn enough about South Africa and its educational system so I can be productive and effective when working in a school and understand the school’s rules procedures. I would also like to learn more about the use of corporal punishment in schools and how Volunteers should respond to it. By living with a host family for cross-cultural training, I hope to learn how families interact and value education so I can translate my primary experiences into creating an efficient plan for parent-teacher relationships at the school I am assigned to. I would also like to gain more knowledge about the specifics of the Schools and Communities Resource Project; for example, I want to understand how we help other teachers understand material being taught or how we identify that we need to do so. As for learning new skills, I am determined to learn the language of my community during pre-service training so I can comfortably speak with those I live with and work with when I arrive in the community I will be serving in. I hope to learn from my peers in my Volunteer group about different techniques they may be using to teach, assimilate to South African culture and cope with the transition from America to South Africa.

E) How you think Peace Corps service will influence your personal and professional aspirations after your service ends:

Working at a middle school in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles has interested me in coming back to a similar neighborhood and working as an English and journalism teacher. I believe teaching in South Africa will widen these aspirations even more and help me build the experience I need to teach in Los Angeles when I return to America. If I do not end up teaching, I am interested in pursuing a master’s degree in public diplomacy, which is a combination of international studies and journalism. The Peace Corps is valued as a form of public diplomacy because I will be experiencing a different culture, teaching South Africans about America and will be able to share my experiences back in America for years to come. My 27 months in South Africa will be a real life approach to public diplomacy, which will help me contribute to the study of public diplomacy in American universities because it is a relatively new academic study. My personal aspirations are to just be happy in life, keep helping others and always be passionate about her work I am doing. I know that I will be passionate about my Peace Corps service, which will motivate me to keep doing service work after I return to the America. I am not the type of person who can sit in an office and do work that I know isn’t positively helping combat social issues or working directly with others. I need to be interacting with people and be always on-the-go. My Peace Corps service will instill these values in me even more so I will continue doing similar social issue work whether that is in America or abroad after my Peace Corps service ends.

48 DAYS!!!!!

Peace Corps update: SOUTH AFRICA HERE I COME!!!

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Hold fast to dreams and they will come true!

It took a whole week for my invitation to travel across country, but it finally came! I didn’t get to actually open it myself because I went to Las Vegas this weekend with the Markham team to celebrate the end of the year (which was amazing — love my team so, so much!) One of my roommates got it and opened it for me. I couldn’t wait any longer and would have been talking about it all weekend if I didn’t know what was inside that beautiful blue packet.

After a seven month application process, I was invited to serve as a school teacher in South Africa! I will be working in a primary school (ages 6-15) as part of the Schools and Community Resource Project. This has been an ongoing Peace Corps project since 1997 — currently there are 106 volunteers in nearly 250 schools in over 100 communities. I leave on July 10, train from July 12 – September 13 and my service ends on September 13, 2014.

My primary duties are:

  • providing direct instruction to learners
  • supporting initiatives by the government and NGOs that promote HIV-AIDS awareness and education in schools and communities as well as developing strategies for handling the subject in schools
  • initiating, supporting and strengthening programmes in the community that empower out of school youth
  • conducting basic computer literacy training to the educators, learners and community members
  • The hardest part about this assignment, according to my invitation kit, is the use of corporal punishment in schools. Eeek…

    I will be living in either the Mpumalanga or the Kwa-Zulu Natal Provinces of South Africa. I will live in a family structure in the village I serve in, meaning I’ll have my own room in a family’s house (which could be anything from a tin-roofed house or a modern brick house). I likely won’t have running water, but it seems like I might have electricity.

    What am I most excited about? The fact that I get to visit City Year South Africa and connect back to my roots (joking, but not really…)

    I have a lot of research to do about South African culture, education system, etc.

    South Africa here I come! In exactly 52 days. Life is crazy.

    Peace Corps update: invitation is in the mail!

    After I talked to placement last week, I kept biologically waking up around 2 a.m. every morning to check my phone for an e-mail that said “Peace Corps application status update” (talk about anxiety). I had a gut feeling I would receive the e-mail on Friday morning because I knew if placement wanted to send me to a program mid-July they would have to notify me by next week. And I was right! I woke up at 2 a.m. this morning to an e-mail from the Peace Corps.

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    I ran to the computer as my fingers clumsily typed on the keyboard and my heart pounded to find that beautiful “Congrats! An invitation has been sent!” in front of my eyes. I will know by next week where I’m going (somewhere in Africa if my placement specialist didn’t change her mind) and when I’m officially leaving! I’ll be able to keep my mind off of my invitation because I went home to the Bay Area this weekend to enjoy the company of my childhood best friends and celebrate one of their birthdays up in Sonoma County. We’re BBQing, going wine tasting and laying by the pool — the perfect relaxation and remedy to escape from my anxious reality of these past two weeks.

    Exactly a year ago today I graduated from USC. Exactly a year later my invitation to serve in the Peace Corps was sent. I am proud of my choice to serve after graduation and to continue serving after City Year. I couldn’t have found a better way to spend my early 20s and it just keeps getting better. I can honestly say I haven’t been as happy as I have been this year; I laugh every day (and often!) If you’re passionate about the work you do, then you’ll be happy.

    EXACTLY a year ago today! My childhood best friend Mary and I at my graduation. Thank you to everyone who has supported me through this process and has always been there for me (and will continue to be even when I move abroad for two years!)

    The adventure is just beginning,

    Liz

    Peace Corps update: medical forms ready to be sent!

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    I am finally done with the medical process for the Peace Corps, which is the step applicants have to take after they are nominated by a recruiter. There’s about 30 or so pages of paperwork and lab results, but the more paper in the envelope, the more at ease I can be.

    I’ll send this bulk of papers to headquarters in DC tomorrow then check my e-mail every 30 minutes and wait for the confirmation e-mail stating that I’ve been medically cleared. It usually takes headquarters 2-4 weeks to receive and process medical paperwork. I’m hoping, hoping, hoping it will be a short wait! Although the medical process is long, grueling and stressful, it’s better that potential PC volunteers are safe now than sorry later when they placed in a country with inadequate healthcare, ya heard?

    After I’m medically cleared, I’ll be contacted by the Placement Office for a final placement interview. My Placement Officer will assess my skills and suitability for different regions of the world. Then, I’ll receive my invitation for a country and exact leave date!

    As time is quickly sneaking up on me and summer is soon (when I’m supposed to leave), I can’t help but be anxious because I am so excited to find out where I’ll be serving! Lately, I’ve been getting really comfortable with the idea that I might be serving in Tunisia because that’s where the Peace Corps recently opened a new English teaching program. I was nominated for a “new English teaching program”, so it makes a little sense (although I know the Peace Corps is creating other English teaching positions all over because it received more funding to do so).

    I’ve got to stay calm and collected, even though I daydream about the Peace Corps every single day!

    -Ms. Warden, the soon-to-be secondary English teacher