A: The professional attributes that you plan to use, and what aspirations you hope to fulfill, during your Peace Corps Service.
In my experience in life I have noticed people are constantly searching for something. Sometimes people don’t even know what they are searching for or if they are even searching for anything at all. They just know that something is missing. I have been lucky at an early age, to discover what this search is and where that sense of emptiness comes from. I have seen and felt exactly what passion is and what it is all about. I believe living your passion as a giant step towards ultimate happiness and closing that emptiness we all long to close.
In my particular case my passion is to serve others and the world. If I am not following my passion to help people and specifically children, I am not all the way myself. I have been graced with having the skill of seeing the “big picture view” of life. I don’t just see the surface of situations; because of my open mind, I am able to 360-degree view. I certainly do not claim to have anywhere close to all the answers, but I am grateful for this attribute so that I can use it to absorb, learn, aide, and encourage other people from all different walks of life. I am fueled and fired up by creating meaningful authentic connections with others that will in some way, directly or indirectly, have positive results in lives.
While understanding my passion, I have also learned I am not afraid to step outside of my comfort zone. The life of a servant leader isn’t easy and creativity and risk taking is necessary. With this said, being responsive to constructive criticism and open to learn from all people is a helpful. Boundaries are everywhere and being open to checks and balances is going to support my overall mission in a Country I know little about as an American. Lastly, I believe that my ability to be reflective will be useful in Ukraine. Reflecting is a huge part of the learning process and allows me to self-critique and brainstorm future improvements.
Now my passion has led me to embark on a journey from the United States to Ukraine. While in Ukraine, I am excited to be immersed in an environment where I can cater my skills to the youth of Ukraine. I did some research and found that it is projected that by 2016, 2.1 million Ukrainians will have died from AIDS and AIDS related disease. Many of the cases caused by injection drug use. My aspiration is to be a positive agent in change in the fight against HIV/AIDS. I plan to learn, understand and support Ukraine’s struggle in economic growth and productivity to better understand the climate of the culture to enable support means. Change can be done anywhere if we focus attention to the youth. Children are the future and with education, support, and encouragement anything can be done. I am thrilled about my upcoming adventure and cannot wait to share my passion, love, and life with the people of Ukraine. With an open mind and arms wide open, I am ready to serve Ukraine.
B: Your strategies for working effectively with host country partners to meet expressed needs.
Studying communications in University really highlighted the importance of understanding the role of communication within a culture. In addition to reflecting culture, communication is a primary tool for social movements. I understand that in Ukraine I will have to adapt and tailor my verbal, nonverbal and my personal ways of perceiving, creating climates, listening and responding to others from what I am used to. First thing is first, learning the language is the most important skill and I see this as my biggest challenge that I will be focused on during my whole 27 months. I plan to engage my country partners with a person-centered approach; I will resist ethnocentric bias by not regarding my way of life normal or superior from any other person. I understand that adapting to cultural diversity is a gradual process and takes time. I have a genuine desire to know and appreciate cultural differences and I respect the process of adapting. I plan to be honest when I do not understand something and not be afraid to ask for help. The two most important strategies for working effectively in any culture are to demonstrate respect and communicate.
C: Your strategies for adapting to a new culture with respect to your own cultural background.
I welcome the challenge of adapting to a new culture while still respecting my own cultural background. In the United States, I have lived and been exposed to many people from different cultures and economic status.’ I have lived in neighborhoods where my mother and I were the only ones of our race and as a child, I barely noticed. This is where my philosophy of its not about the color, it’s about the culture comes into fruitation. I know my experiences in Ukraine will be far from anything I have ever experienced here in the states however; the basic human needs are the same all over the world. Everyone feels fear, needs love, and desires respect. It’s a matter of understanding what these things mean to an individual culture and giving it the respect it deserves. Respect allows us to acknowledge genuine differences between groups yet remain anchored in the values and customs of our culture. I plan to participate and incorporate practices and values of Ukrainian culture into my own life. I believe participation encourages us to develop skills for participating in a multicultural world which we all can take part in some of each other’s customs. It’s important to celebrate differences and commonalities.
D. The skills and knowledge you hope to gain during pre-service training to best serve your future community and project.
I am looking forward to pre-service training and from what I hear; it’s a extremely valuable training for all areas of life. I am excited to acquire skills that are not sugar coated. I want to know the truth about anything that is presented. Most importantly I want to be prepared to communicate. I would like a really strong foundation in the language and a crash course on cultural communication customs. Having a background in summer camp and youth development, I have always incorporated my summer camp tools most that I do, even with adults. My philosophy is “your never too old for character building!” I want to know if I will be able to incorporate my Americanized ice breaker games and team building exercises with the youth in Ukraine. If not, what do I need to adjust to still be able to bring a group together and create positive character and team building. I would
like to know more about Ukrainian drug culture, especially if I am placed in a position where that is a focus.
How do you think Peace Corps service will influence your personal and professional aspirations after your service ends?
I have many dreams for the future and they seem to be evolving each day. I know I want to spend the rest of my life serving others. I do know for sure my future holds a focus in children. Ideally, I would like to open my own non-profit organization. A drug rehabilitation home for teens, a battered woman’s shelter, orphanage, or a organization similar to the boys and girls club or YMCA, they all are possibilities. The question is where? I hope that my Peace Corps service influences whether I want to take an international approach to my service or stay in the United States. I am excited to take away fuels for my passions from experiencing a different kind of suffering. I hope to be knocked over by enlightenment and revolt with an unstoppable motivation for change. The Peace Corps will change who I am, I have no doubt about that. I can see myself acquiring a focus I have never had before. Focus in a good thing can only result in becoming a peaceful revolutionary on a mission for reform. I understand nothing about the next 27 months is going to be easy and I look forward to accumulating the personal strength and self knowledge to take on life’s challenges so that I can better help others.