Peace Corps Volunteers and the Perception of the Landscape in Ethiopia

Title

Peace Corps Volunteers and the Perception of the Landscape in Ethiopia

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Research Question

Peace Corps Volunteers serve in countries all over the world, in a variety of environments both familiar and strange. They must adapt to local cultural norms in order to be an effective volunteer. How do Peace Corps Volunteers in Ethiopia perceive, use, orient, and generate stories about their local landscape in relation to the host culture they are in?

Significance

The landscapes (and the belief systems associated with those landscapes) in America can shape the perceptions of landscapes abroad, and this may have an impact on the volunteer’s ability to serve effectively.

Methods Used

Through site visits, participant-observation, interviews, photography, and both cognitive and GPS mapping exercises, Adams collected qualitative data that will be used to inform his master’s thesis.

Conclusions/Outcomes

Peace Corps Volunteers often view the landscape through a particularly American lens, valuing wilderness, hiking excursions, and calming spaces in order to reclaim a part of their identity. They also form powerful cognitive maps of their sites to feel safer, saner, and to territorialize their space.

Publication Date

Summer 2015

Disciplines

American Studies

Peace Corps Volunteers and the Perception of the Landscape in Ethiopia

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