Thursday, February 11, 2010

My Aspiration Statement

Many of you have been asking questions about what kind of work I will be doing in Rwanda and although I do not have a definite answer to give you, I can help you understand by sharing my aspiration statement with you. The Peace Corps asked me to write an aspiration statement to ensure that I had read, understood, and was able to reiterate my job description, as well as to introduce myself and my abilities to the Peace Corps personnel working in Rwanda in order to gain a better understanding of my intentions and expectations.

It is with great excitement that I accept the placement as a community health and organizational development volunteer in the country of Rwanda.
As a volunteer working under the mandate of Peace Corps Rwanda, my primary goal is to provide improved health care services, specifically HIV/AIDS education, prevention, care, support, and treatment, to those in need. In carrying out this goal, I plan to assist the government of Rwanda, service providers and health organizations, local and international alike, working in communities develop, improve, and expand their programs to better meet the needs of the population. My main focus is on building the organizational capacity and functions of organizations in the health sector to develop, coordinate, deliver, monitor and evaluate services, while also working to increase the demand for improved services and strengthen linkages among communities, service providers, and health organizations. In doing so, my ultimate goal is to mitigate the impact of HIV/AIDS in communities using approaches, behavior changes, lifestyle choices, and policies that are embraced by the local population and can be sustained in the long run.
The professional attributes I bring to the table are the flexibility to act as a coach, facilitator, teacher, mentor, agent of change, and trusted colleague as needs require. My success working in groups shows that I have the ability to work with Rwandan partners to find culturally appropriate solutions. The knowledge, skills, and talent I have acquired through schooling and my own experience build a solid foundation and act as valuable sources of information so that I may provide service that is to the best of my ability. My innovativeness allows me to build upon programs and resources already existing within Rwanda. The professional manner in which I conduct business will help me be accepted within my community and workplace, while maintaining a positive image of the Peace Corps for future endeavors in the country. My commitment to the Peace Corps program highlights my determination to make a positive difference in the lives of Rwandans.
The manner in which I provide service is important to working effectively in Rwanda. Developing relationships and building trust with Rwandans, while gaining and maintaining the respect of Rwandan partners are the cornerstones of credible Peace Corps work. Doing so requires a commitment to learn the language and understand and adjust to the culture of Rwanda in order to become integrated in the workplace. I am committed to the time and lifestyle changes that these efforts may require. I will utilize the resources provided by the Peace Corps to facilitate cross-cultural adjustment in the workplace. In addition, I plan to apply an appreciative inquiry approach, showing patience, acceptance, and a desire to learn and build upon the programs and resources available within Rwanda. I will show flexibility and creativity in working with what is available, while paying attention to the needs of Rwandans and the opportunities that arise in the workplace. In this way, I hope to make a positive contribution.
Cultural adjustment is one of the most important aspects of the Peace Corps experience. The first step in adjusting to Rwandan culture is gaining an understanding of cultural practices. I plan to conduct research on Rwanda before I depart, as well as take advantage of the resources provided by the Peace Corps during training and throughout my service. During my service, I will make an effort to remain open-minded, adjust my expectations and preconceptions as required, and remain sensitive to cultural matters. Furthermore, I will embrace Rwandan culture and comply with social norms to the best of my ability, even if many aspects of my lifestyle change, in order to become integrated in my community. Although I can be sure that the process will be difficult, I will work to overcome any obstacles and frustrations that may arise. Cultural shock will be an inevitable part of my experience in Rwanda, but I will be prepared to maintain a positive outlook, look after my health, and adjust as quickly as possible so that I may serve my community in a culturally-sensitive manner and to the best of my ability.
The Peace Corps training program will be an important stepping-stone for my service in Rwanda. During the training program, I hope to gain an understanding of local culture and practices so that I may adjust quickly and integrate successfully in my community. A study of the Kinyarwanda language will be a crucial aspect of training, as the main means of communication and understanding. I also look forward to background and technical training that will aid in providing appropriate and effective service. With the skills and knowledge gained during the pre-service training program, I hope to be better prepared for the challenges I will face during my Peace Corps service.
My Peace Corps experience will greatly influence many aspects of my personal and professional life upon my return. At the moment, I have not figured out my post-service plans, as my main focus is on the immediate challenge I will be facing during my service in Rwanda. However, I am sure that the skills I acquire working as a organizational capacity and health volunteer will be beneficial in any professional setting, as well as an important source of educational inspiration should I return to graduate school with the Fellows/USA program. My experience in Rwanda will likely influence me to make different lifestyle choices, develop a sensitivity and understanding of other cultures and people, and cherish international issues on a personal level. I look forward to the opportunities that my experience working with the Peace Corps will provide.

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