Volunteers are advised to use the motivation statements they wrote at the beginning of their Peace Corps application process to help them write their Aspiration Statements. An Apiration Statement is comprised of a Volunteer’s goals for service, and this statement often gives the staff in the Volunteer’s country of service a first impression of the Volunteer’s ambitions. I hope that when I read this again in two years, I’ll think to myself, “I did that and more.”
A: 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.
I have a great deal of initiative in my academic, professional, and personal life. I’ve always considered myself to be a timely and industrious worker, which I know will come in handy during my service. From what I’ve learned from firsthand accounts, blogs, and articles, there is often a different attitude toward getting work done in other countries. Hopefully my ability to work diligently will help me transcend cultural boundaries so that I can get the most out of my experience.
Work can be tough, and I’ve always been one to make it as fun as I can. I generally try to channel my spirit animal, Tina Fey, when I take on difficult tasks. If I can crack a quirky joke, or lighten the mood in any way, you bet I will. I’m confident that my lightheartedness will help me connect with the people in my community so that I can develop closer relationships, and hopefully, fulfill more projects during the course of my service. I’m eager to teach and learn from my students, and hopefully I can develop fun lesson plans and activities that will assist me in bonding with them.
I truly don’t like giving up. When something gets difficult, I have a hard time letting it slip through my fingers. Being a Biology major, I’ve developed immense critical thinking skills, and these skills have assisted me in day-to-day life, and in the workplace. If something doesn’t work, rather than giving up, I try to change the dynamic of my project. I’ve noticed that if I treat a difficult situation like a puzzle, I have more patience in reaching my goal. I fully expect my service to have a fair number of frustrations, but I love a good puzzle, and I’m ready to take on any challenge that comes my way.
B: Identify two strategies for working effectively with host country partners to meet expressed needs.
Adherence to cultural norms is an excellent way to gain the trust of Moroccan partners. I plan to continuously develop my language skills, maintain a professional appearance, and immerse myself in my community. I want my community to know that I take every aspect of their lives very seriously, and cultural immersion will help me befriend community members and discover different secondary projects.
While I intend to immerse myself in the Moroccan culture, I also anticipate socializing with Moroccan people. I think this strategy correlates significantly with cultural devotion, and I don’t really believe one can work without the other. I can dress like them, (attempt to) talk like them, walk like them, and live like them, but if I don’t develop friendships with them, I’m little more than a stranger. I plan to ask community members what kind of change they would like to see, and I intend to record these conversations so that I can better gauge which needs are more often expressed. I’ll share this news with other Volunteers and staff so that we can better keep track of the needs of Moroccan communities.
C: Your strategy for adapting to a new culture with respect to your own cultural background.
While I’m not a minority in the US, I know I’ll be one in Morocco. I plan to reduce cultural differences by finding common interests between myself and the people in my community. For example, I love dancing to good music. Perhaps I’ll attend birthday parties and weddings as a guest at first, but as I develop bonds with certain members of my community, I hope to work my way up to hosting dances and music-based events myself. I also love reading, and I’ve connected with many-a-person over books, so I’m eager to see where my love of the written word will take me. I’m positive I’ll have days where I’m missing home, so I’ll make sure to allow myself some alone time, or Skype time with friends and family from the U.S. I imagine times like those are extremely rejuvenating, and will ultimately help me focus. I’ve always noticed how adaptable humans can be, and Peace Corps Volunteers are some of the best examples of the positive adaptations that each of us can attain.
D: The skills and knowledge you hope to gain during pre-service training to best serve your future community and project.
While I have a minor in Spanish, I know very little Arabic. I’m hoping my Spanish knowledge will help me pick up Arabic quicker than if I didn’t know a second language at all. I know it’s absolutely crucial for me to gain language skills during my first few months in-country, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to live with a Moroccan host family for the duration of Pre-Service Training. It’s also an added bonus that I’ll be living with another family for my first few months at site. Full immersion in Darija and Berber will help me attain the language skills I’ll need to make a substantial difference in my community. Plus, I’m a young female Volunteer, and I’d like to have the capacity to defend myself against gender or age-related discrimination. I’d hope to even become proficient enough to have educated conversations about the importance of gender equality. I want the Moroccan people to trust me, and knowing their language is a huge step to building that trust.
E: How you think Peace Corps service will influence your personal and professional aspirations after your service ends.
Professionally, I plan to become a primary care physician, working specifically with underserved communities. These groups can range from ethnic minorities to LGBTQ populations. I personally have a deep passion for women’s health, so service in a nation where women’s health is still viewed as distasteful will introduce me to worldviews that I otherwise wouldn’t experience in the U.S. If I can improve the quality of people’s lives in my Moroccan community, then perhaps I can utilize some of the skills I gained during my service to improve the quality of lives in the United States.
Personally, I’d love to see myself mature into a full-fledged adult. I could still use more confidence, and while I consider myself an independent person, I’d love to see myself in two years as a brave woman who can take on the world. Hopefully 24-year-old Abbie will pack up the artifacts of her Peace Corps experience, sit down on that one-way flight en route from Morocco to Idaho, and say to herself, “What a ride it was.”