Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Educators’ Insights on Culture Shock, Identity and Pedagogy
Chapter 6: Similarities, Contrasts, and Shades
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SIMILARITIES, CONTRASTS, AND SHADES
The most tranquil house, with the most serene inhabitants, living upon the utmost regularity of system, is yet exemplifying infinite diversities.
(Henry Ward Beecher, 1869)
In this chapter, I discuss some of the themes that emerged in the process of bringing the “infinite diversities” within participants’ stories to light. I am concerned, though, that the concept of “theme” might imply a sense of unified wholeness, therefore, in the following sections I look at each of the themes while simultaneously pointing out some of the similarities, contrasts, and shades of meaning that occurred within and between participants’ stories. I also suggest other areas within those themes that require further study in intra- and inter-cultural contexts.
Drawing Gender Lines
All of the participants made references to gender and alluded to gender-based inequalities. According to Cole (2009), “In almost every culture, ‘being’ ‘male’ or ‘female,’ however that might be interpreted, is used to ‘define’ people…[in ways that] inevitably involve inequalities” (p. 563). Likewise, each of the ← 191 | 192 → participants spoke of gender inequalities that affected themselves or others, both overseas and in the United States. For instance, in his struggles to become a more caring teacher in the U.S., Joe argued that although female teachers could demonstrate closeness with students, male teachers had to be careful and “watch that line.” For her part, Harley’s sense of gender was also connected to her racial identity...
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