Teaching SuggestionsPrint this Page
- Subject(s): Cross-Cultural Understanding
- Region / Country: Asia & Pacific Islands / Kingdom of Nepal
- Grade Level(s): 6–8, 9–12
What constitutes a "good" job? And what defines integrity? Students will explore both questions in relation to Steve Iams's writings about the subjects.
After studying the letter and engaging in activities, students should be able to:
- Explain why self-discipline is central to the life of a Peace Corps Volunteer
- Define integrity and explain its application to their own lives
- What's Integrity? by Steve Iams
- Ask students to think about the jobs they might like to have in the future. Have them brainstorm, either in small groups or in their journals: What makes a job rewarding and meaningful? After a few minutes, discuss as a class, listing responses on the board. [Possible responses: interesting work, opportunity to make decisions, good pay, chance for promotion, opportunity to help others, opportunity to travel.]
- Introduce students to the lesson by giving some background on the Peace Corps. Introduce Steve Iams, using his biography. You may wish to give students copies of his biography, which is delightfully written and humorous. Introduce background information on Nepal or give students a map of Central Asia and help them find Kathmandu.
- Explain that students will be reading a letter by Iams that tells about two different jobs he has held in his life. Distribute copies of "What's Integrity?" and allow time for reading.
- Discuss the reading with students. You might use the following questions as a guide.
- Why was Iams unhappy with his bookselling job?
- What is Iams's job in Nepal? How does he feel about it? Why does he consider it a 24-hour-a-day job?
- How does Iams define integrity at the beginning of his essay? How has he changed his definition at the end? What did he learn that caused him to change his definition?
- Compare Iams's Peace Corps job in Nepal with the brainstorming you did at the beginning of the class. Does his job meet your criteria for "rewarding and meaningful"?
- Do you think he likes being a Peace Corps Volunteer? (Provide specific evidence from the letter for your opinion.)
What made Iams come to the conclusion, "If you can't prop yourself up when you are feeling dejected, you might not last long as a Peace Corps Volunteer?" How does he follow this advice?
- Share with students this quotation from William Zinsser's book On Writing Well: "How do I know what I think until I read what I wrote?" What do you think Iams learned from writing this letter?
- Explore with students how Iams has organized his essay, with the two different definitions of integrity at the beginning and end (sometimes referred to as "bookending"), and his descriptions of his two jobs in the middle. Stress how good writing is carefully organized, even if it appears to be casual in tone.
- Define theme as the main idea of an essay. Ask students what the theme of this essay is. [Students may suggest ideas like "Doing a job well requires integrity," "It's important to do the right thing whether or not someone is watching," "A job should have meaning and purpose." Try to have them state the idea as a sentence; don't let them simply name a topic such as "Integrity."]
- Ask students if this theme has any meaning for them in their academic lives. This is particularly useful if you are using this essay at the beginning of the school year. Try to elicit descriptions of what integrity means for a student. [For example, academic honesty, making a sincere effort to succeed.] What are the consequences of not living up to this ideal? Who is hurt the most if one does not have integrity?
Framework and Standards
- Doing "the right thing" because you choose to do it is different from doing "the right thing" because you are being observed.
- It's important that the projects we undertake have purpose and meaning.
- Getting a job done under challenging circumstances requires self-discipline and patience.
- Are there rewards for choosing to do "the right thing" voluntarily?
- What strategies would help get projects done in an unfamiliar cultural environment?