Title page for ETD etd-05232011-191348

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Cotrupi, Catherine Lynn
Author's Email Address cotrupi@vt.edu
URN etd-05232011-191348
Title Confronting the "Ugly American" Stereotype: A Study of the Acculturation of Peace Corps Volunteers
Degree Master of Science
Department Sociology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Wimberley, Dale W. Committee Chair
Harrison, Kwame Committee Member
Kim, Minjeong Committee Member
  • Acculturation
  • Peace Corps
  • Ugly American Stereotype
  • Identity
Date of Defense 2011-05-02
Availability unrestricted
In this study I examine the processes of assimilation and acculturation of Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) abroad and their potential confrontations with the “Ugly American” stereotype. PCVs consciously and unconsciously decide how to fit in overseas based on their identity and personal methods self presentation. If met with adversity based on being subjected to the Ugly American stereotype, they resist urges to either fight to defend one’s identity or shed the associated idiosyncrasies and blend in to the foreign culture. PCVs must maintain a sense of self and purpose while on their assignment. By interviewing a small sample of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) I gain insight into the potential hardships encountered during their first few months in the service. I also use literature from both critical and instructional sources on the topics to supplement my inquiry. These critique and demonstrate the various methods RPCVs use to acclimate and find a reasonable balance for themselves in their positions. The goals of this paper are to increase awareness and understanding of the difficulties and hardships faced by those who joined the Peace Corps with the aim of spreading knowledge abroad, not only in their areas of specialization, but about Americans in general.
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