The content and opinions expressed in this blog are mine. They do not represent the US Government or US Peace Corps - Jud Dolphin

Thursday, December 4

Peace Corps Aspiration Statement for Ukraine

A: The professional attributes that you plan to use, and what aspirations you hope to fulfill, during your Peace Corps service.

I bring to my Peace Corps placement a life-time of organizational development experience. I have contributed to the success of organizations at the local, regional and national levels. My leadership has enabled positive change in the areas of anti-poverty and hunger work, enrollment in social service programs, health care advocacy and senior services.

I find that I am an innovator who enjoys solving problems. I am most energized when faced with a situation that requires a creative solution. I am able to assess resources, involve other stake holders, and develop workable plans.

I have organized skill-building workshops and organizational conferences. I am comfortable as a presenter and I am known for my interactive style. I believe that to learn something new, most people need to be engaged beyond listening. I have developed workshops in team building, planning, communications and fundraising.

I have worked successfully with organizational leaders and volunteers in a variety of settings from start-up groups to large established organizations to governmental agencies. I prefer the challenges of start-up groups and enjoy adapting structures and processes to the needs of new groups.

During my Peace Corps service, I hope to use my experience and be able to mentor NGO colleagues in Ukraine. I look forward to being a teacher, team member and active participant in projects. I will learn from my Ukrainian colleagues, seek to encourage them in their important work and apply my skills.

I believe the Peace Corps service gives me opportunities to not only know an organization well, but also to be able to network. A powerful synergy happens when people find commonality and learn from one another. Throughout my career, I have brought people together and seen how it energizes each of their missions. I look forward to developing processes where my host organization can reach out and realize new possibilities.

Acceptance is not immediate in most situations. It takes time. I hope to apply my cultural awareness and patience to adapt to my colleagues’ patterns. I want them to know that I can be counted on to help them succeed. I expect I’ll be involved in listening, teaching and supporting them in a variety projects and collaborations. I suspect that some will challenge us both. And in time if we take on something that stretches our vision and improves the community, I will be quite satisfied.

I expect a positive experience through the Peace Corps that will stretch my comfort levels and give me a chance to learn and grow.

B: Your strategies for working effectively with host country partners to meet
expressed needs

Listen more than you speak. Appreciate what others are saying. Listen not only to words, but try to understand intent and feelings. I know this will be a challenge given differences in language, but even more reason to listen.

One tool that I will use is a daily journal. Here I can sort through what I am learning and note the questions that emerge. I will be able to test out my learning and build a foundation for engagement.

Another tool is to gather information through a series of colleague interviews. Understanding how individuals see their jobs and probing their own visions for success will be immensely useful. As a new-comer, I will become grounded in my colleagues concerns and build a foundation of trust.

At times these conversations can lead to more formal processes. I have conducted organizational audits. By gathering information from board and staff, I was able to customize agenda for strategic planning meetings and retreats. Results were quite positive. We were able to clarity roles and responsibilities and developed a renewal of enthusiasm for the mission.

I think working effectively takes time so patience will be important as well as a bit of humility. I am the new one joining a team that already has its own norms and practices. It is my job to adapt and find ways to fit in.

Finally, keeping a sense of history should prove helpful. I am part of a Peace Corps presence in Ukraine. Some have gone before and others will follow. While I may be placed alone, I am part of a larger history.

C: Your strategies for adapting to a new culture with respect to your own
cultural background.

Adopt an attitude of curiosity. I hope to suspend judgments and instead ask questions. What is familiar and different in each day? How does this or that tradition work? What does it mean? How does the activity benefit the people? Does it fit in or challenge my own cultural assumptions?

I am aware that I am in Ukraine to understand first. I want to declare myself to be a leaner and view Peace Corps service as a graduate degree in cross cultural awareness.

Prior to training I will read about Ukraine. I will take time to learn history and know why certain events and people are important. I want to begin to appreciate Ukraine’s cultural story.

I am certain that I will stumble. But I have learned over the years that those times are opportunities to look at things differently. For example, if I find myself impatient with a long line, I can grumble to myself or wonder about the life stories of those around me - maybe even start a conversation.

Finally, practicing good humor helps most situations. I am usually able to laugh at myself and present a positive outlook. The proverbial glass is half full, not half empty is an attitude I try to maintain. I do believe that we can and must take responsibility for how we process experience and
how we end up feeling. On most days I choose a positive outlook. Adapting to a new culture can be hard work, but I think it is exciting too

D: The skills and knowledge you hope to gain during pre-service training to best serve your future community and project.

I feel the need to learn and grow in the following areas:

Language. I hope to gain enough ability so that I can understand conversations and in time communicate. I would also be interested in some coaching on teaching English as a second language. I would like to develop this skill during my years of service.

Historical and Cultural Competency. I want to learn about the Ukrainian “story.” I want to learn practical information that can enhance my work and acceptance into the community. How do they understand themselves? What practices regarding civic engagement and community life are long standing? How is change viewed? What hope do they have for the future? What are the highs and lows of Peace Corps in Ukraine? What hurdles have Peace Corps identified and what strategies to deal with them?

Organizational Development Tools. Learning what survey, planning and management tools have been adapted to Ukraine would be helpful. I would be interested especially if these processes have been adapted for both small start-up and/or established organizations.

E: How you think Peace Corps service will influence your personal and
professional aspirations after your service ends.

Peace Corps service is an opportunity to give back. Working with emerging NGOs is a way for me to mentor others as I have been mentored. Personally I look forward to the adventure and challenge. It makes me feel like I am almost 25 years old again.

After Peace Corps service, I want to return to USA and continue working with non-profits. I believe skills and cross cultural experiences from the Peace Corps will add to my effectiveness. My hope is to continue to assist worthy causes well beyond traditional retirement years.


  1. Hi Jud,

    Greetings from London, England!

    So great to read about all the wonderful things you are up to. It is such a co-incidence that you should be joining the Peace Corps just as one of my former students has just returned from his tenure at Maputu.

    Please carry on sharing you experiences with us, it does make the world shrink so much !

    Take care,


  2. I'm connected and following! Can't wait to read all about your adventures.