1. Three professional attributes that you plan to use during your Peace Corps service and how these will help you fulfill your aspirations and commitment to service.
In working with diverse populations, I have learned the value of being patient and flexible in the work field. The work that we do in the non-profit world can seem, at times, too big or too difficult to finish, but with the right mindset, I’ve learned that by being patient and learning how to be flexible and adapt to unforeseen situations, tasks can be accomplished and goals can be reached if you give it time. I know that the project I’m about to join is one that is years in the making and has deep rooted history; and here I am, an outsider about to jump right in! I know that I will have to be patient and flexible with not only the goals of the project and the tasks that I will have to do, I have to be patient and flexible with myself, being in a new environment and learning new things I’ve never had the opportunity to learn before. I hope that by being patient and flexible, I will give the best service I can give, staying motivated and encouraged throughout my time in Zambia.
I also have a strong work ethic that I will be bringing to Zambia. Once a task is assigned to me, I will see it through and finish it to the best of my ability. Although I work hard to get the results I envision, I know my limitations, and I know when to ask for help. There are many tasks that cannot be done alone, and I fully understand and acknowledge this. I welcome and value effective and positive teamwork whenever possible. I also believe that with good work ethic comes a responsibility to ensure that everyone involved with a project or a task is included and has the opportunity to learn and grow. I hope that by continuing this work ethic and maintaining this positive attitude on teamwork that the work I will be doing in Zambia will be not only be effective, but also fulfilling and worthwhile.
And, I couldn’t be where I am today without my strong organizational skills. I enjoy keeping things organized and staying on top of the things I have to do, and I think bringing some of these organizational skills to a place I have never even dreamed about going to will help me keep balance, keep me on track, and hold me accountable to the Peace Corps, the project, and the many reasons why I applied for this in the first place. I worked really hard and prayed many nights to have this opportunity to serve in the Peace Corps, and I don’t want anything to jeopardize it.
2. Identify two strategies for working effectively with host country partners to meet expressed needs.
When I think of strategies for working effectively in this new environment with host partners, I think of two things that really go hand in hand with one another. The first strategy is to honor the past and understand where this project and this work have come from. I think that by doing this, I will not only understand the purpose of why I’m here and why I’m be doing the things I’m doing, but it gives me a sense of belonging that I’m be a part of something bigger than the present, something bigger than myself. I understand that the project I’m about to join has been years in the making and has evolved throughout the years with many people involved from both the Peace Corps and Zambia. I want to work with the host partners to gain as much knowledge and skills as I can to serve and work to the best of my ability. I think that by understanding this and finding my own place within the evolution of Peace Corps Zambia, I will find and maintain a sense of purpose and serve with intention.
The second strategy is to humbly continue the work from those before me and help build the future of the project, whatever that may be. I think that understanding that the goals of the project might not be reached until after my service is over is key to working in the present with eyes in the future. Community norms and behaviors can take years (or more) to take change or develop, and keeping a patient, flexible, open mind about outcomes while serving, will help me stay focused with intentional service. I want to work with the host partners to define my role in this project and realistically map out what legacy I can leave behind or what impact I can have with the time that’s given to me in Zambia.
3. Your strategy for adapting to a new culture with respect to your own cultural background.
My strategy for adapting to a new culture with respect to my own cultural background stems from Paulo Freire and is rooted in one of the values of the Peace Corps. My teaching philosophy has always stemmed from Freire’s explanation of the relationship between the “teacher” and the “student;” that this relationship is a two-way relationship where the “teacher” is really a “teacher-student” and the “student” is really a “student-teacher.” In other words, I will serve in Zambia as an open book, willing to share my own culture and my own lived experiences with respect to those whose community I am now in, while simultaneously learning about Zambian language, culture, customs, and lifestyle. Cultural exchange is one of the things the Peace Corps values and I think that by having this strategy and mindset while adapting to my host community, I will not only learn new things, have the opportunity to teach others, I will maintain one of the Peace Corps’ values of cultural exchange while doing so.
4. The skills and knowledge you hope to gain during pre-service training to best serve your future community and project.
The skills and knowledge I hope to gain during pre-service training include: local language, culture and customs (the do’s and don’ts), the history and future of Peace Corps Zambia, the current goals and objectives and daily work of the project, and skills on how to be safe and secure in this new environment. I also have many questions that probably will be covered in pre-service training, so I am looking forward to having those questions answered. I am looking forward to receiving pre-service training with others because I learn best with interacting with other people/teammates.
5. How you think Peace Corps service will influence your personal and professional aspirations after your service ends.
I think serving in the Peace Corps will influence my life personally by giving me a new and broadened perspective on life and how living in someone else’s shoes can really teach me about who I’ve been and who I want to be. I really look forward in learning new things, meeting new people, and sharing stories and having deep human connection and building relationships outside of the USA. I know that once my service is over, I will have so many experiences and stories to share with my family and friends and everyone back home in the USA to forge even more human connections and relationships. I foresee taking these experiences and paying them forward, hopefully inspiring others to join the Peace Corps.
Professionally, I think that serving in Zambia will give me new skills and experience in HIV/AIDS prevention, with a global scope and perspective. I know that by having this direct experience outside of the USA will make my resume more competitive in the non-profit and health fields. I am also excited to broaden my professional skills in learning and working in two new areas of health: maternal/child health and malaria prevention/control. In returning to the USA, I am hoping that my service with the Peace Corps will give me more opportunities to network and grow within the non-profit and health fields. Who knows? I might find a new job interest or new career path, which I am also very open to post-service.