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The Peace Corps uses a competency-based training approach throughout the continuum of learning, supporting you from arrival in-country to your departure. The Volunteer Competency Model (VCM) is the agency standard for Volunteer learning and performance. The VCM prepares and support Trainees/Volunteers to be effective in service as development professionals and ambassadors of world peace and friendship. Learn more about the Peace Corps' approach to training.

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A Language and Culture Facilitator leading a language learning lesson for Trainees.
  • Pre-service training in-country is conducted by Peace Corps staff, most of whom are local staff and short-term language staff. To foster appropriate and effective integration, language learning and intercultural opportunities, Trainees typically live with a host family in a training community during pre-service training. Training covers technical (project sector), linguistic, intercultural competence, diversity and inclusion, health, and safety and security topics, which will enable Volunteers to fulfill the Peace Corps' mission in a professional manner via these four job functions: integrate into communities; exemplify commitment to service and resilience; facilitate participatory development; and demonstrate responsibility for personal health, safety and security.
  • Project sector/Technical training involves structured in-classroom or blended learning sessions and practical assignments working in the school in the training site.
  • Language training typically involves classroom lessons four days a week in small groups. In addition to classroom lessons, you will also do speaking practice assignments with your host family or in the community. For Volunteers who do not have previous experience with the local language, the goal for Pre-Service Training is to learn basic survival communication skills while intentionally building your intercultural competence. During Pre-Service Training, you will be given guidance and training on independent language learning skills and strategies and your language proficiency will be tested at the end of PST to assess your readiness to serve. After Pre-Service Training, you will continue to study language independently throughout service so that you can develop sufficient language proficiency to serve effectively. Language proficiency will be tested at other points during service when requested.
  • Intercultural and community development training will help you explore your cultural values, those of your host community, and your role as a Volunteer. Training will guide you in considering concepts of time, power dynamics and hierarchy, gender roles, communication styles, relationships and self, and resiliency. You will use the Self-Other-Bridge concept to help navigate through your intercultural experience. You will also participate in cultural events and learn about local history and way of life.

During the safety and security training sessions, you will learn how to reduce risks at home, at work, and during your travels. You will also learn various strategies for coping with unwanted attention, how to identify safety risks in-country, and about Peace Corps’ emergency response and support systems.

Additional trainings during Volunteer service include in-service training after one to three months at your site, mid-service training, and close-of-service conference. In the spirit of learning, growing, building relations and collaborative engagement, local counterparts attend these in-service training events. You will also be with your Volunteer cohort for these trainings and attention will be paid to helping you also explore and honor the diversity of US Americans; strengthen community partnerships; demonstrate humility, and find pathways to make lasting impact during your unique service journey.

Pre-Service Training

The Peace Corps employs a community-based model during pre-service training. It is based on adult learning methods that emphasize individual responsibility for developing the competencies to function independently as a Volunteer. You will live with a family, take care of your own needs, and work either independently or in small groups to accomplish tasks that build your skill levels. Belizean language facilitators will help you learn the necessary language and intercultural communication skills to accomplish your living and work tasks. Swearing In is not automatic, pursuant to 22 CFR Part 305.4(b)(4) as codified in Manual Section (MS) 201, Trainees must demonstrate language proficiency, technical competence, and knowledge of the history and culture of the host country by the end of pre-service training in order to be "selected for a particular assignment" and be sworn in to Peace Corps service. You cannot be sworn-in to Peace Corps service until you have clearly demonstrated the attributes and skills necessary to meet the needs of your assignment. You can monitor and demonstrate your own progress through self-evaluation, assessments (via observations, interviews, demonstrations, presentations pre/post quizzes, etc), consistent feedback from staff and facilitators, and participation in daily activities. Your success in this learning period requires your full participation and, for some, a measure of sacrifice in terms of time and personal comfort. Investment of effort during this time will be well worth the rewards of satisfaction and well-being you will experience as a Volunteer. 

Project Sector Technical Training

The youth development technical training continuum will include a coherent set of activities using various methodologies including classroom sessions, field observations, practicums, self-directed online learning and more to help prepare trainees meet the needs of the Youth Empowered by Sports (YES) Project. Our team will train you to optimize local resources, enhance synergy, and maximize your skill sets with the hope of achieving maximum impact at the school you serve. During PST technical training you will be trained to work with youth, service providers, parents & caregivers; to

  1. strengthen the life skills of youth;
  2. Increase the skills of youth service providers to effectively implement positive youth development programs;
  3. Increase the skills of parents/caregivers to communicate with youth and promote their participation in life skills and sports activities.

Technical training will support your work toward achieving goals that support host country priorities and outlines the Peace Corps’ specific grassroots role in that strategy. You must be prepared to carry out project activities and report effectiveness in transferring knowledge and skills that help build individuals’ and work partners’ capacity and contribute to host country priorities.

Language Training

Language proficiency is at the heart of successful Peace Corps service and effective language skills are essential for your personal and professional growth. Language proficiency is critical not only to your job performance, but also helps you integrate into your community, can ease your personal adaptation to the new surroundings, and supports your personal safety. As a result, language training is central to the training program and closely tied to intercultural competence, diversity, equity and inclusion training.

Belizean language instructors usually teach formal language classes four days a week in small groups. Your language training will incorporate a community-based approach. In addition to classroom time, you will be given assignments to work on outside of the classroom and with your host family. The goal is to get you to a point of basic social communication skills so you can practice and develop language skills further once you are at your site. Prior to being sworn in as a Volunteer, you need to meet the language benchmark for the language you're being trained and you will develop strategies to continue studying language during your service.

Be aware of the following:

  • The diversity of Belize sometimes means multiple languages are spoken in a single village, adding to the complexity of language learning during pre-service training and throughout service.
  • While Spanish is spoken in Belize, any formal Spanish knowledge and training you bring does not guarantee you will be placed in a Spanish-speaking environment. As such, Trainees must demonstrate respect for the language they have been assigned.
  • Trainees will need to exemplify motivation, open-mindedness, cultural sensitivity, humility, patience, and flexibility in the language acquisition process.
  • Trainees may rotate with a different language and cultural facilitator every two weeks during pre-service training, and may not have the same language instructors throughout pre-service training (may vary annually).
  • Trainees will need to demonstrate language learning progress throughout pre-service training, and commit to completing assignments, and tracking their own language learning.
  • Trainees must take part in the Language Proficiency Interview (assessment) at least two times during pre-service training, as needed during service and at Close of Service. The Language Proficiency Interview is one of the elements that Volunteers are required to meet in order to be sworn in.
  • Trainees should not expect to be fluent at the end of language training during pre-service training. The onus is on Volunteers to take ownership of language acquisition and continue with further language acquisition once at site.

Intercultural Competence, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility Training

Inter-cultural training will provide opportunities for you to reflect on your own cultural values and how they influence your behavior in Belize. You will also discuss the questions you have about the behaviors and practices you observe in Belize, exploring the underlying reasons for these behaviors and practices.

Inter-cultural and community development training will help you improve your communication skills and understand your role as a facilitator of development. Training will cover topics such as the concept of time, power and hierarchy, cultural humility, gender roles, communication styles, and the concept of self and relationships. Because adjusting to a new culture can be very challenging, you will participate in resiliency training which provides a framework and tools to help with adjustment issues. Be prepared to discuss issues that may be outside your comfort zone, such as colorism, unconscious bias, emotional agility, in order to explore your own cultural dynamics and use lens of humility, and respect to engage and navigate the local culture in which you will live and work. Work partners and host families will also participate in inter-cultural and diversity trainings.

The host family experience provides a unique context for inter-cultural learning, and is designed to ease your transition from life during training to life at your site. Families go through an orientation conducted by Peace Corps staff to explain the purpose of PST and to assist them in helping you adapt to living in Belize. Many Volunteers form strong and lasting friendships with their host families.

Health Training 

During pre-service training, you will be given basic medical training and information, including basics on COVID-19. You will be expected to practice preventive health care and to take responsibility for your own health by adhering to all medical policies. Trainees are required to attend all medical sessions. The topics include preventive health measures and minor and major medical issues that you might encounter while in Belize. Nutrition, mental health, setting up a safe living compound, and how to avoid HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are also covered.  It will be important to be open and remain culturally sensitive as you undergo health training and suspend judgement as to not project your cultural beliefs and values.

Safety and Security Training

During the safety training sessions, you will learn how to reduce your risks at home, at work, and during your travels by building your awareness and indirectly practicing culturally competent communications skills. You will also learn appropriate, effective strategies for coping with unwanted attention and about your individual responsibility for promoting safety throughout your service.