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close this bookPersonal Safety in Cross-Cultural Transition (Peace Corps)
close this folderHandouts for volunteer workshop on handling difficult situations and peer counseling: Unit three
View the documentHandout 1: Volunteers' advice to new volunteers
View the documentHandout 2: Critical incident: possible sexual overtures by host country supervisor to female PCV
View the documentHandout 3: Critical incident: Social/sexual pressure encountered by a male PVC relating to his community acceptance and identity
View the documentHandout 4: Assertiveness rights
View the documentHandout 5: Case study on AMY
View the documentHandout 6: Jack
View the documentHandout 7: Common reactions to assault
View the documentHandout 8: The awareness wheel
View the documentHandout 9: Behavior checklist non-verbal attending behavior

Handout 1: Volunteers' advice to new volunteers

This information was generated by Kenyan Volunteers during a session on personal safety. Although some of this information is specific to Kenya, much of it can be useful to all Volunteers.

Advice Exchanged Among PCVs:

There was a feeling of concern for one anther's welfare and a lively exchange of information and suggested coping mechanisms for dealing with the problems of housing, theft, assault, special male/female issues, etc. Advice to new PCYs comingled with recommendations to those who had been in-country for some time.

- Don't take for granted that people are friendly and can be trusted

- be wary of new acquaintances here just as you would be in the U.S.

- be wary of people who rush to approach you or shower you with compliments

- Take your time

- establish relationships slowly

- don't feel you must be liked by every Kenyan

- Get to know people in your village or area who can identify safe and "bad" areas and who will support you

- may not be supervisor or other Kenyan teachers

- usually can trust farmers, students, headmasters, mamas

- Don't bring unnecessary items which can be stolen

- Don't flaunt possessions

- Don't place articles near window where they can be "hooked"

- Don't be obvious about leaving

- Do be obvious about locking doors - always lock

- Employ askari or get a dog

- Hire a house-sitter or lock possessions in a safe place

- Ask neighbors to watch house

- COS is a time when Volunteers get ripped off

- suggest you give a later COS date to the public

- Don't lend money

- Don't dress and act like a tourist

- Remember dress code varies from area to area

- tribal dress (and undress) is not acceptable for PCVs - or even Kenyans outside that tribe

- women were told in the U.S. not to wear pants - this was true for teachers, but extension workers were thought to be stupid because they did not wear them for working in the field and riding cycles.

- Don't open the door at night to anyone you don't know well

- Don't let male counterparts in your house at night under any circumstances if you are a woman

- Don't be promiscuous at your site

- Avoid dark, unsafe places and walking alone. Consider carrying a weapon at night.

- Beware of people bumping or pushing you

- Be aware of tactics used by cons, money changers, "scams"

- Avoid crowded buses if possible

- Don't go out in the city with only one other person or alone at night

- Carrying excess baggage is an invitation to be ripped off

- Don't carry valuables, even in a pack

- If you must carry money, keep it close to body or concealed

- in front pocket

- in bag clutched in front of you

- in "boob-bag"

- if money is concealed, you might carry 5 shillings in a pocket so thief is not tempted to dig deeper

- carry correct money for bus, etc., in hand so as not to reveal money source

- Don't hitch-hike after dark - and be very careful hitchhiking at all times

- If you get caught away from home at night, don't travel alone; pay for lodging

- If you are victimized and decide to report to police, take someone with you as witness and advocate (especially if issue is sexual assault or rape)

Handout 2: Critical incident: possible sexual overtures by host country supervisor to female PCV

Julie was an agronomist assigned to work on an agricultural experimental research station. She had been at the research station for about six months and was getting along fine. She had identified and was starting some research trials on improved pasture grasses that could hold great promise for improving the local pastures of the farmers.

In undertaking the research program for improved grasses, she had received a lot of assistance and encouragement from her host country supervisor. Requests for field space, equipment, seeds, field labor, research texts, and the assignment of a co-worker had all been met. Julie was rally satisfied with her host country support. She had everything she basically needed to conduct quality field trials of the improved pasture seed she had identified.

Several times, her supervisor had taken her to lunches which lasted longer than her co-workers' lunch period. While Julie was grateful for the opportunity to build rapport and share ideas with her supervisor, she at times felt that she was being overly favored. This worried Julie for a couple of reasons. One, she wasn't sure how her other co-workers were feeling toward her and how they perceived the long lunches away from the office. And, two, although she had no real indications, she did wonder if her supervisor had any amorous inclinations toward her. Since her supervisor was married and had three kids, she decided not to be overly concerned or jump to any unfounded conclusions. Also, her supervisor was one of the few people who seemed to relate to her academic background and training. He enjoyed their luncheon conversations for the exchanges they had on cultural and social differences between the U.S. and his country. Overall, it seemed to be a fair exchange and fit the Peace Corps goals of cross-cultural interchange. Julie decided her worries were not worth stopping the luncheons. This seemed to be borne out in the next few months.

Julie and her supervisor had three more lunches together. The conversation topics of these lunches were basically the same as the others, although some comments were made about home life problems, including a less than satisfying traditional marriage about which Julie expressed some sympathy. Her supervisor seemed gratified that she could understand his problems and stated it was because of the difference between U.S. culture and his country's culture regarding women that she could understand.

As Julie's experimental trials progressed, she found that her supervisor found excuses to be with her more and more. This was making Julie somewhat ill at ease, as much for the favored status before her co-workers as for any other overtones the increased attention might have.

To cut down on the amount of contact time, Julie found excuses for not accepting new lunch offers and kept her co-worker closely involved with her at most times. This seemed to work pretty well for keeping things on the safe side. Spending more time with her co-worker, she discovered that the all-male staff was making unfavorable, joking comments about her close relationship with the supervisor, such as The American woman's belly must be growing by now". Julie didn't get publicly angry but told her co-worker there was no truth in the suspicions of the others. She knew her comment would be fed back to those who were talking.

Julie realized that she was clearly on thin ice to maintain a professional image. She was wondering how to handle the situation. On the one hand, she did value the support and social time with her supervisor; however, on the other hand, she was afraid of an outright advance being made by her supervisor. To complicate things, the next month she and her supervisor were scheduled to go to a conference relating to her work. Julie was really wondering what to do.

Handout 3: Critical incident: Social/sexual pressure encountered by a male PVC relating to his community acceptance and identity

During PST, Joe learned that local bars were a good place to meet the local men and become known and accepted into the local community. The male trainers in Joe's training program said they often went to a local bar at night to socialize and to get local people interested in their Peace Corps projects. All the trainers encouraged this avenue for meeting local men; however, the female trainees were strongly discouraged because it was not generally acceptable to the local community for a woman to socialize at night in a bar.

Shortly after arriving at his post, Joe went to once of the more popular bars in his local town. At first, Joe felt a little uncomfortable in the bar, being new and not knowing anyone. After a couple of drinks, Joe relaxed and found himself engaged in conversation with a couple of other men.

As the evening progressed, drinks were exchanged and Joe felt that he was doing fine on his first visit to a local bar. At the end of the evening, Joe sensed that he had made a good start toward gaining the friendship of the men with whom he had been drinking. As Joe was saying good night, he noticed that the men quickly conferred among themselves, and then one of them asked if he wanted a woman for the night. Joe was a little surprised but, since he was not interested, declined. The men pressed him several times, saying he must want a woman. Joe was feeling a bit embarassed but really did not want to accept their offer. Finally, one of the men relieved the situation by saying Joe must be really tired; could he meet them the next night? Joe said yes, and a hearty good night was said all around.

The next evening, Joe went again to the same bar and found his new friends waiting for him. Everyone enthusiastically received him Joe was very gratified by their open friendliness and was pleasantly surprised at his quick acceptance. Again, an evening of drinking and camaraderie was enjoyed by all. When Joe was ready to leave, the same offer as the evening before was made. One of the men was heard to say, "Tonight we'll find out what the American can do." Joe was very uncomfortable and he felt the pressure mount. However, he really did not want to go down to the "red light district". Joe tried to decline, but hear other comments ranging from "He's too shy" to "Do you think he's one of those?". Joe was feeling very anxious and very uncomfortable.

Handout 4: Assertiveness rights

(Taken from Management Review, August 1982)

Fundamental to a proper level of assertiveness is a belief in these basic rights:

1. Assertive people believe that individuals have the right to be treated with respect. They value others as well as themselves and desire fairness in interpersonal relationships. They feel that personal relationships are damaged when one tries to control others through guilt, hostility, or intimidation. Individuals who demean others also demean themselves; everyone loses as a result.

2. Assertive people think that individuals have the right to promote their dignity and self-respect, as long as the rights of others are not violated in the process.

3. Assertive people believe individuals are entitled to defend themselves. They consider that when people frequently subordinate or relinquish their rights, others take advantage of them. When individuals express their honest thoughts and feelings directly and appropriately, everyone benefits.

4. Assertive people encourage others to express their ideas. In fact, they believe that not letting others know one's thoughts is a form of selfishness, because personal relationships can only become truly meaningful when individuals openly share their ideas.

5. Assertive people believe that individuals have the right to express their feelings about how other's behavior affects them. By verbalizing how they perceive other people's behavior, assertive people let other know where they stand -- and give them opportunity to change. Not letting people know how one feels about their behavior is just as inconsiderate as not listening to their thoughts and feelings.

6. Assertive people consider that individuals have the right to make their needs known. When someone else feels downtrodden, put-upon, mistreated, or indignant, assertive people believe he or she has the right to attempt to rectify the situation and to seek personal satisfaction. By allowing others to acknowledge their own needs, assertive people feel good about themselves and gain self-respect, as well as that of others.

7. Assertive people think that individuals have the right to' take sufficient time to consider complex problems, to ask for information, and to change their minds when necessary. They are receptive to new ways of thinking, and do not seek pat answers or magical gimmicks to solve perplexing problems.

8. Assertive people believe individuals have the right to choose whether or not to change their behavior to please others, and the right to say "no" without feeling guilty. They want to be liked by others but are not seriously upset if they are not.

9. Assertive people even believe that individuals have the right not to assert themselves at times. People are entitled to establish their own priorities, to make mistakes, to suffer the consequences, and to be the ultimate judges of their own actions.

The key to developing responsible assertive behavior is realizing and accepting these rights. Although rights have limitations and bring with them responsibilities, accepting assertive rights is crucial to the process of expanding human potential.

Handout 5: Case study on AMY

TRAINER NOTE: Read the following aloud after which you can give the trainees a few minutes to reflect on what they've heard, and then answer the questions in the training design.

Amy's adjustment to her site and country had begun with training and two months at her site. She was doing well with the language and her work. While visiting another Volunteer, the two women joined two men Volunteers for a day at the beach. While the others were swimming, Amy decided to take a long walk.

On her way back a young man appeared suddenly from behind the sand hills, pulled a knife, and asked if she wanted to sleep with him. She thought it was a joke, laughed at him and tried to walk on by. He got very angry, grabbed her, pushed her to the ground, slapping her face and bruising her limbs, tore her bathing suit, and raped her. She reported later that she felt at that time as though she were watching a movie of what was happening. He told her that if she spoke to anyone about this he would kill her and that she should stay in that spot for 20 minutes. She was terrified and lay completely still for a while. When she started to get up, the man reappeared and threatened her again. He told her he would follow her and, if she told anyone, he would rape her again.

Amy lay there what seemed to her a very long time. When she got up the man did not reappear. She felt like vomiting. She walked into the water to clean herself and had a powerful urge to keep walking until she drowned. She was more ashamed than she had ever felt in her life. Gradually, she was able to think about finding her friends. It was embarrassing to walk back to the more populated part of the beach in a torn bathing suit. Her woman friend ran to her as soon as she saw Amy and put her arms around her as Amy muttered what had happened. They found a blanket. In the warmth of the blanket and her friend's arms, Amy sobbed briefly. By the time they found the other two Volunteers, Amy appeared almost calm. As the other woman explained what had happened, the men PCVs looked shocked. When they saw the strangely calm look on Amy's face, one started joking about how he had always wondered what it would be like to have sex with a stranger; the other put his arm around Amy because he noticed her trembling; he was feeling very angry at the attacker.

Handout 6: Jack

Jack had enjoyed the companionship of the other 27 PCTs during training but was eager to get settled at his site. The permanent house he was to occupy during his Peace Corps service had sustained considerable damage during an unusually heavy rain storm, and when Jack arrived at his site he was met by a very friendly young man who took him to a small native hotel where he could stay until his place could be made ready for occupancy.

The room in the hotel was quite small. In addition, Jack was told that should the hotel become fully booked, he would be expected to share his room with some other male guest.

Immediately, Jack realized that security might be a problem. He had brought with him his camera, guitar, an extra pair of heavy shoes, and the transistor radio his family had given him as a departing gift. Jack's new-found friend saw the possible security risk also and offered to keep his valuables safe for him until he could move from the hotel to his permanent residence.

Jack began his job and felt he had established good relationships with his supervisor and his counterparts. His language was good. He had beers in the evenings with his coworkers and could hardly wait until the time when he would have his own place and be able to invite friends in to play cards in the evenings.

After two weeks, the house was ready. Jack moved all of his personal belongings from the hotel. The next day at work, he saw his friend and told him the good news and expressed his gratitude to him for keeping his valuables.

The friend denied having ever taken the items to keep. Jack was stunned. At first he thought he had misunderstood. But his language was excellent now and there was no doubt. The friend repeated his statement that he had no knowledge of Jack's camera, radio, etc.

When Jack could not persuade his friend to admit the truth, he threatened to go to the police.

His friend replied: "I've lived here all my life - everyone knows me. You are new - no on knows you. It's your word against mine..

Handout 7: Common reactions to assault

The following are common reactions experienced by victims of emotional and physical assault.










fear of place where assault occurred, and of similar places



can't sleep, or wakes up and can't return to sleep







can't sleep

guilt, self-blame

shock, disbelief




general soreness









want to forget it






can't sleep


shock, disbelief


loss or appetite

general soreness


tension headaches

Handout 8: The awareness wheel

Complete Communication

I see you sitting there reading quietly (sensing) and I think you must be relaxed and contented (interpreting). I feel very happy (feeling) and I want to leave you alone so you can enjoy yourself (intending). So I leave you alone (action).

I'm exerted today" (feeling). Grabs partner and swings round playfully (action). "It must be because I'm looking forward to having you to myself all day (interpreting). When I see your eyes sparkling like this (sensing) I think you are beautiful (interpreting). I really want to be with you today (intending).

The awareness wheel

Thinking - interpretations: impressions, beliefs, conclusions, assumptions, evaluations, ideas, opinions, expectations, stereotypes, reasons.

Interpretations are not simply based on the way things are, on some outside reality; they are based on what we perceive plus our feelings, intentions, and prior interpretations.

Sensing - what you see, hear, smell, taste, feel, (in the touching or tactile sense), etc. Raw data about the world and ourselves.

Feeling - spontaneous responses to the interpretations you make and the expectations you have. Feelings serve as a barometer, help you understand your reaction to a situation. Feelings help you clarify your expectations.

































Wanting - intentions: general attitude of moving toward or away from something. Short term intentions and long term intentions (goals).

to reject

to praise

to conceal

to approach

to defend self

to play

to support

to hurt

to explore

to persuade

to be friendly

to be caring

to be funny

to ponder

to listen

to ignore

to help

to disregard

to clarify

to accept

to share

to avoid

to demand

to understand

to cooperate

to be honest

to be responsive

Doing - action plan

Handout 9: Behavior checklist non-verbal attending behavior

TRIAD MEMBER ________________________________________________

Behavior Observed (Check if observed)

You as a Discussant

You as a Listener





A. Face and Head Movements

1. Uses affirmative head nods

2. Face rigid

3. Calm, yet expressive use of facial movements

4. Blankly staring

5. Turning eyes away when another looks at him/her

6. Spontaneous eye movements and eye contact

7. Not looking at other when talking

8. Looks directly at other person

9. Extraneous facial movements

B. Hand and Arm Movements

10. Spontaneous and fluid use of hand and arms

11. No gesturing (arms rigid)

12. Makes physical contact with other person (shakes hands, touches arm, etc.)

13. Uses hand movements for emphasis

14. Inappropriate arm and hand

C. Body Movements

15. Slouching

16. Relaxed posture but not slouching

17. Sitting in fixed, rigid position

D. Body Orientation

18. Body positioned toward other

19. Physically distant from person

20. Sits close to person with whom talking

21. Not facing other with body

E. Verbal Quality

22. Voice quiver

23. Speech blocks or stammers

24. Lack of effect

25. Inappropriate effect

26. Too loud

27. Too soft

28. Excessive use of jargon

29. Excessive use of "psychologese"

30. Excessive use of "you know.

31. Too fast

32. Too slow

F. Have you achieved a sufficiently high
level of skill to progress to Stage III?


HELPER __________________________________

HELPEE ___________________________________

OBSERVER _________________________________

Observer and Helpee Feedback

Your Own Evaluation





1. Did the helper ask a lot of close ended questions?

2. Did the helper ask a lot of abstract questions?

3. Did the helper ask too many questions?

4. Did the helper tend to criticize the helpee for his actions?

5. Did the helper tend to interrupt the helpee?

6. Did the helper tend to dismiss the problems or feelings of the helpee?

7. Did the helper tend to offer pat or immediate solutions for the helpee's concerns?

8. Did the helper focus his/her responses on the feelings and problems of the helpee?

9. Did the helper convey understanding and acceptance of the helpee's feelings and concerns?

10. Did the helper present himself more as an authority figure than as an equal?

11. Did the helper express any of his/her own feelings or personal experiences relevant to the helpee's concerns?

12. Did the helper tend to avoid direct questions and concerns presented to him by the helpee?

Since 1961 when the Peace Corps was created, more than 80,000 U.S. citizens have served as Volunteers in developing countries, living and working among the people of the Third World as colleagues and co-workers, Today 6 000 PCVs are involved in programs designed to help strengthen local capacity to address such fundamental concerns as food production, water supply, energy development, nutrition and health education and reforestation.

Peace Corps overseas offices:

P. O. Box 487
Belize City

B. P. 971

P. O. Box 93

B P 537 - Samandin

c/o American

B P 817

B P 1080

Apartado Postal
San Jose

Apartado Postal
San Domingo

Including: Antigua, Barbados, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts-Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Dominica "Erin Court" Bishops Court Hill
P. O. Box 696-C
Bridgetown, Barbados

Casilla 635-A

P. O. BOX 1094

BP 2098

P. O. Box 5796
Accra (North)

6a Avenida 1-46
Zona 2

c/o American

Apartado Postal

Musgrove Avenue
Kingston 10

P. O. Box 30518

P. O. Box 554

Box 707

Box 208

B P 85
Box 564

B P 222

P. O. Box 9
Kolonia, Ponape
F. S. M. 96941

I, Zanquat

P. O. Box 613

B P 10537

P. O. Box 1790
Port Moresby

c/o American

P. O. Box 7013

c/o American

B P 254

B P 697

Private Mail Bag

P. O. Box 547

50/5 Siripa Road
Colombo, 5
Sri Lanka

Djodi Deutsch
C/o American Embassy

P. O. Box 362

Box 9123
Dar es Salaam

42 Soi
Somprasong 2
Petchburi Road
Bangkok 4

B P 3194

B P 147
Nuku' Alofa

B P 96
1002 Tunis-Belvedere

Private Mail Bag

P. O. Box 1151

B P 697