Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) and Counterparts seek to create a combined Health and English Language Learning Camp. The camp will have 70 students coming from the provincial center and nearby towns. Through an application process involving teacher recommendations, counterparts will select students from 8th-11th grade to participate in the camp. We will strive to have equal participation of male and female students. The camp leadership will predominantly focus on female counterpart empowerment and organizational skill development. Over the course of the four-day camp, students will study the topics of Alcohol and Tobacco, Dental Hygiene, Sexual Health, Life Skills, and Leadership in both their native language and through English Language classes. The English classes will prioritize speaking confidence and listening skills to contrast the grammar-based approach common in Mongolian Schools. By the end of the camp, 80% of campers will be able to identify the risks of smoking and drinking, name the steps for proper dental care, and understand sexual health relative to their bodies and identity. The local community will contribute educators and trained health professionals to speak to the students, and they will also provide a venue for the camp, free of charge, at the Secondary School. To promote sustainability, the camp will include lessons on how students can take home what they learn and share their knowledge with friends and family members.
When considering a health-focused community project the PCVs conducted interviews with community counterparts (CPs) and survey of students to evaluate the needs of the community and its students from their perspectives. The school doctors and the local Health Department both highlighted Dental Hygiene and Sexual Health as priorities. Discussions with CP's brought forward the need to address the dangers of tobacco and overusage of alcohol. We discussed a variety of approaches for how to best engage students in health topics and determined that combining health and English learning would best incentivize participation in health-related activities. As well as these interviews and observations (both structured and unstructured), counterparts in the community have been central to the planning process. They have promised their time during school vacation, helping to plan activities, source materials, and spend their time learning how to conduct camps such as this on their own in the future.This camp was specifically requested by the local school director, who recognized the limited resources that many students have, and the lack of engaging health and English lessons.
The approach to sustainability for this camp is multifold. In terms of the health information learned at the camp, the lessons will have a behavior change focus encouraging students to make long term changes to their personal lives. Additionally, through the lessons focusing on how students can bring home new information, we have the potential to impact the families and friends of the students who attend the camp. We also plan to connect the materials from this camp to the various Health Clubs run by the local PCVs. Students who attended the camp can help teach their peers in weekly club format. Separately, through the counterparts participating in the camp, it is our hope that with exposure to new teaching methodologies and student-centered activities, our counterparts will gain both ideas and skills they can take back to their regular classrooms. Youth counterparts who participate will also have the opportunity to learn the health and English information, as well as effectively spread what they have learned to their community.