Virtual Service Pilot
There are several ways to engage with Peace Corps’ mission. Peace Corps is responding to the evolving needs of our community partners by developing virtual engagements with dedicated partners to complement Peace Corps Volunteer and Peace Corps Response Volunteer service opportunities.
Virtual Service Pilot Participants (VSPPs) donate their services to the agency by engaging online with host country partners for 5-15 hours each week for 3-6 months. Virtual Service complements the work of two-year and Response Volunteers by enabling the Peace Corps to support community partners.
The Peace Corps Virtual Service Pilot (VSP) is a virtual service opportunity whereby Virtual Service Pilot Participants (VSPPs), as private citizens and if they so choose, are able to donate time and voluntary services to the agency to engage virtually and contribute to the requests of interested Host Country Partners for support.
The multi-phase pilot began in October 2020 and is currently being tested in a number of Peace Corps host countries. The Peace Corps launched Virtual Service in 2020 to navigate the pandemic, and it continues to advance the agency’s mission in new ways today. The engagements, which are created at a partner’s request and are designed with capacity building in mind.
Virtual Service engagements are 3-6 months long, depending on the request of the Host Country Partner. VSPPs engage synchronously and asynchronously for approximately 5-15 hours per week on tasks outlined in their engagement. VSPPs and Host Country Counterparts identify mutually agreeable times to meet, given the difference in their respective time zones and schedules.
No. Virtual Service is distinct from Peace Corps Volunteer service and Peace Corps Response service. Virtual Service Pilot Participants contribute to the mission of the Peace Corps as private citizens while maintaining their other personal commitments.
In developing Virtual Service engagements, Peace Corps staff confirm that Host Country Partners have consistent access to a computer, internet, and/or a mobile phone and are comfortable engaging in a virtual setting.
Navigating time zones and schedules can be a challenge. Previous participants exercised flexibility and found creative ways to connect with their Host Country Counterparts. These resourceful methods included using messaging and video platforms, email, and phone calls.
Discussing these potential challenges and establishing regular check-in times with Host Country Counterparts at the beginning of the engagement is a best practice and often done during orientation.
VSPPs engage in activities in all six programmatic sectors: agriculture, community economic development, education, environment, health, and youth in development. Previous engagements have included expanding local garden diversity co-facilitating English clubs and courses, and co-training local business owners on additional entrepreneurial skills, to name a few.
VSPPs and Host Country Partners often choose to celebrate local holidays and exchange cultural traditions, which contribute to deepening relationships and fostering important parts of the Peace Corps mission.
Virtual Service has the long-term potential to reduce barriers to service and enhance the diversity of our Volunteers. It enables the participation of Americans who might not otherwise be able to serve due to physical limitations or financial and family obligations.
It also has the potential to allow participants to engage with host communities that have been historically unable to host Volunteers due to safety, security, or logistical reasons.
Finally, Virtual Service provides possible continuation of service for Volunteers who are evacuated or must close their in-person service due to health, safety, or security concerns. Through online engagement, VSPPs will gain more experience with overseas organizations and continue, as private citizens, to support the mission and goals of the Peace Corps.
Participants receive a one-time amount of $250 to defray start-up costs directly associated with their first virtual engagement.
VSPPs are responsible for access to and availability of a computer, internet, and/or telephone in order to enable direct virtual engagement with the Peace Corps office overseas and their Host Country Counterpart.
Each VSPP will be assigned to a specific Peace Corps Post staff point of contact who will conduct regular check-ins with the VSPP.
VSPPs will be provided with an official “Description of Engagement” document which will describe the tasks accomplished during the period of engagement.
VSPPs are donating their time as private citizens, which is distinct from Peace Corps Volunteer service. For this reason, virtual service participation does not count toward months of Volunteer service or NCE.
Yes, after signing a Virtual Service donation agreement, VSPPs complete an asynchronous online orientation that covers the Peace Corps Approach to Development, intercultural communication, technology, and effective virtual collaboration.
During the first week of the engagement, VSPPs will be invited to attend a virtual meeting led by Peace Corps Post staff from the country of engagement. The VSPP will learn more about the culture, review the specific tasks to be accomplished, and will be introduced to their Host Country Partner during that meeting. The partner and the VSPP will use this time to begin planning how they will collaborate in the coming weeks..
Current engagements can be viewed on the Peace Corps Virtual Service engagement page. The expression of interest form takes 10-20 minutes to complete. Interested individuals should be prepared to upload a current resume, 1-2 references, and answer 3 short essay questions.
Check out our blog for additional tips for submitting a strong expression of interest.
Interested individuals can submit up to 3 expressions of interest at a given time.
Email your questions about virtual service or expressing an expression of interest to [email protected].