Monday, May 16, 2011


May 14, 2011
United States is not the only country, which sends youthful volunteers. Japan also sends their equivalent of the Peace Corps, called JICA. In some ways they perform many of the same tasks as Peace Corps, some are teachers, others do specific jobs with governmental agencies and NGOs. In other ways they are very different.

It is hard to say JICA is a volunteer organization for they are paid well both during and at the end of their service. They also can drive and are given motorbikes. The term of service is one year, rather than the 27 month Peace Corps tenure. JICA tend to be older than the twenty-something’s who make up the bulk of Peace Corps and have ongoing careers.

In many ways JICA are envious of Peace Corps, which they hold in high regards. They only receive two weeks of in country training before they go to their assignments. This means they have almost no feel for Samoan or Samoan cultures before they come to grabble with actually doing something. Japanese are notoriously poor English speakers, even though they are well versed in English reading and writing. This makes them even more isolated in this foreign land.

Since Peace Corps and JICA share some common experiences, it is only natural for the gregarious Americans to invite the Japanese to a party. We both try to decide whether to bow or shake hands, best to do both. Peace Corps prepare a truly American meal of tortillas, salsa and beer while JICA bring their food of numerous raw tuna dishes, rice, a kind of meat loaf, and some Japanese intoxicants.

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