The Peace Corps uses a competency-based training approach throughout the continuum of learning, supporting you from arrival in-country to your departure. Learn more about the Peace Corps' approach to training.
- The in-country 11-week Pre-Service Training (PST) is conducted by Peace Corps staff, most of whom are locally hired trainers. To foster appropriate and effective integration into the community, trainees typically live with a host family during training. The PST covers technical, linguistic, intercultural competence, diversity and inclusion, health, and safety and security topics.
- Technical training during PST involves structured sessions and practical assignments working in the community, clinic, school, or club setting. Also, because volunteers are expected to submit reports on all volunteer activities, volunteers will be trained on various data collection tools and methods in which to submit the semi-annual Volunteer Reporting Form (VRT).
- Language training is the largest skill development component of PST. It is through demonstrating language and cultural proficiency that volunteers successfully integrate into their communities and experience success within their Peace Corps assignments.
Starting in 2018, Peace Corps Eswatini elected to have a “dry PST” which meant securing the commitment from trainees to avoid consuming alcohol during the 11 week training. This mean not having alcohol anywhere on the training grounds, nor drinking at nights or weekends during personal time, or while living in the community during PST. Additionally, staff requested volunteers to continue this practice during other training events held throughout their term of service.
Additional trainings during a two–year term of service include: Targeted technical training (totaling four weeks) via multiple in-service trainings (IST) scheduled throughout the first nine months of service after swearing in. A mid-service conference (MEC), scheduled near the 1-year anniversary to support reconnecting with fellow volunteers. And, a close of service conference scheduled three months prior to the end of service to support reflection and to prepare for “life after Peace Corps”. Volunteers remain with their cohort for these additional trainings.
Peace Corps Response Volunteers
Peace Corps Response volunteers usually receive a 3 day to two week orientation to familiarize them with post-specific administrative, medical, and safety and security procedures as well as language and cross-culture and project specific information. Project-specific orientation is facilitated by the partner organization after the PCRV arrives at site. Orientation is conducted by Peace Corps staff and local experts for specific sessions. The orientation takes place at Peace Corps’ training center at SIMPA, Matsapha, or any Peace Corps designated place. PCR orientation is dry (alcohol free) and trainees are expected During the Response Orientation, trainees will be expected to wear professional to business-casual clothing during the week and casual on the weekends. Most volunteer trainings will be a mix of business casual to casual. Shared accommodation in a dormitory format is provided for the entire duration of the orientation. PCR trainees get the opportunity to meet with their counterparts during orientation and discuss on the first few months’ work-plan. Current serving Volunteers facilitate a local transportation practicum from the training site to close-by shopping mall, to the Peace Corps office and to the work place. Transportation to site after swearing in is facilitated by the Peace Corps office. PCRVs are expected to attend to all volunteer conferences conducted by PC Eswatini. Monitoring of their work is done through site visits, bi-annual volunteer narrative reports and check-ins. A half-day close of service reflection is scheduled three months prior to the end of service to reflect on the service accomplishments and to prepare PCRVs for “life after Peace Corps”.
Pre-Service Training (PST)
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. Swazi facilitators will help you learn the necessary language and intercultural communication skills to accomplish your living and work tasks. 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, consistent feedback from staff and facilitators, and participation in daily activities. Your success in this learning period requires 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. Adjusting to a new culture & surroundings, learning new customs and language, and adjusting to minimal or reduced living standards can be both mentally and physically challenging. Additionally engaging in an intensive 11-week/7 days a week learning environment can be at times overwhelming. The PST staff work hard to intentionally build-in support systems to create a healthy learning environment and trainees are asked to offer support to each other and to the staff through their participation and engagement.
Technical training will prepare you to work in Eswatini by building on the skills you already have and helping you develop new skills in a manner appropriate to the needs of the country. The Peace Corps staff, Eswatini experts, and current Volunteers will conduct the training program. Training places great emphasis on learning how to transfer the skills you have to the community in which you will serve as a Volunteer.
Technical training will include sessions on the general economic and political environment in Eswatini and strategies for working within such a framework. You will review your technical sector’s goals and will meet with the Eswatini agencies and organizations that invited the Peace Corps to assist them. You will be supported and evaluated throughout the training to build the confidence and skills you need to undertake your project activities and be a productive member of your community.
Peace Corps Eswatini also promotes a monitoring and evaluation culture, therefore trainees will be given instruction on various data collection and reporting tools during PST with the expectation of submitting volunteer reports called “Volunteer Reporting Forms” twice per year. The opportunity to learn and practice professional monitoring and evaluation skills are some of the many valued benefits of Peace Corps service. Peace Corps Eswatini values volunteer feedback, therefore Volunteers will be asked throughout their term of service to provide input to assist with improving program and post operations.
As a Peace Corps Volunteer, you will find that language skills are key to personal and professional satisfaction during your service. These skills are critical to your job performance, they help you integrate into your community, and they can ease your personal adaptation to the new surroundings. Therefore, language training is at the heart of the training program. SiSwati language training typically involves classroom lessons six days a week in small groups. In addition to classroom lessons, trainees will engage in language practice assignments with host families and community members. During PST, trainees will be given guidance on independent language learning skills. Trainee language proficiency will be tested at the end of PST to assess a readiness to serve and an Intermediate Low testing score will be required in order to swear into service. After PST, you will be asked to identify a local language tutor in your community in which to continue building your language and culture competency skills. Language instruction and testing will continue via in-service trainings and at mid-service conference to support continual learning and integration.
Intercultural Competence, Diversity, and Inclusion Training
As part of your Pre-Service Training, you will live with an Eswatini host family. This experience is designed to ease your transition to life at your site. Families go through an orientation conducted by Peace Corps staff to explain the purpose of Pre-Service Training and to assist them in helping you adapt to living in Eswatini. Many Volunteers form strong and lasting friendships with their host families. Throughout your term of service, volunteers are encouraged to participate in cultural events (weddings, funerals, holidays and festivals) to learn about local history and way of life.
Cross-cultural and community development training will help you improve your communication skills and understand your role as a “facilitator of development” in fulfilling your Peace Corps assignment. Trainees receive comprehensive training on Peace Corps Participatory Analysis for Community Action (PACA) development approach. The training team will also facilitate conversations connected to the concepts of time, power and hierarchy dynamics, gender roles, communication styles (indirect vs direct communication & conflict resolution), engaging in personal relationships, developing personal resiliency, adult learning strategies, and the overall understanding of local and national political structures.
Peace Corps Volunteers represent the diversity of America. Peace Corps staff are empowered to support volunteers from all racial and ethnic backgrounds through engaging trainees and volunteers in Intercultural Competence, Diversity, and Inclusion conversations and through the support of volunteer driven committees. Peace Corps Eswatini is proud to support the following volunteer committees: VAC (Volunteer Action Committee); PSIN (Peer Support & Inclusion Network); PCIT (Peace Corps IT); HIV (for CHAMP & Y-Deep); GRS (Grassroots Soccer); GLOW (Girls Leading our World); G4H (Girls For Health); Embrace (Volunteers that identify as persons of color) ; and BRO (Boys Reaching Out).
During Pre-Service Training, you will be given basic medical training and information. 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 Eswatini. 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
Safety and Security Training
During the safety training sessions, you will learn how to reduce your risks at home, at work, and while traveling and using public transportation by building your awareness and indirectly practicing culturally competent communications skills. Trainees will also learn various strategies for coping with unwanted attention, sexual harassment, and how to identify safety risks in-country. Trainees will learn about the Peace Corps “Where-about” policy and the practice of using WhatsApp to check-in with Peace Corps staff when traveling in and out of their communities throughout their term of service and about the Peace Corps Emergency Action Plan (EAP) response and support systems.