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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. Learn more about the Peace Corps' approach to training.

  • Pre-service training in-country 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. Training covers technical, linguistic, intercultural competence, diversity and inclusion, health, and safety and security topics.
  • Technical training involves structured sessions and practical assignments working in the community.
  • Language training typically involves classroom sessions in small groups during the week. In addition to classroom sessions, 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 both independently and with support from Patwa community liaisons throughout service so that you can develop sufficient language proficiency to serve effectively. Language proficiency will be tested at other points during service.
  • 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 and hierarchy, gender roles, communication styles, relationships and self, and resiliency. You will also participate in cultural events and learn about local history and way of life.

You will be trained in health prevention, basic first aid, and treatment of medical illnesses found in-country. 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 training events during Volunteer service include in-service training after three to four months at your site, mid-service training, and close-of-service conference. You will 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 within your group throughout service.

Pre-Service Training

The Peace Corps employs a community-based model during the ten-week pre-service training. It is based on adult learning methods that emphasize individual responsibility for developing the necessary competencies to function independently as a Volunteer.

These competencies are performed under 4 Job Functions which are: Exemplify commitment to service and resilience, Demonstrate responsibility for personal health, safety and security, Integrate into communities and Facilitate participatory development.

You will live with a family and work either independently or in small groups to accomplish tasks that build your skill levels. Local 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.

Technical Training

Technical training will prepare you to work in Jamaica 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, Jamaican experts, and currently serving Volunteers will conduct the training. 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 Jamaica and strategies for working within such a framework. You will review your project’s goals and objectives and will meet with the Jamaican agencies and organizations that invited the Peace Corps to assist them.

During Pre-Service Training, you will be involved in practicum exercises, field trips, and partner agency shadowing experiences to gain hands on experience similar to your work site. You will be supported and evaluated throughout training to build the confidence and skills you need to undertake your project activities, report your progress, and serve as a productive member of your community.

Language Training

Language proficiency is at the heart of successful Peace Corps service and effective language skills are essential to your personal and professional satisfaction. 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, and inclusion training.

The Patwa language, which is the unofficial language of Jamaica, is very colorful and easy to learn. Although spoken differently in different parts of the island, the basic structure remains the same. A very interactive program exists throughout the two- year Volunteer continuum to ensure that you are properly immersed in Jamaican Patwa. Trainees will work with their host families, agencies, and community partners to gain additional exposure to the language.

Additionally, you will participate in several regional language training events and be supported in your community by your respective Patwa Community Liaison. As support, a language learning guide which contains specific assignments will be utilized outside of training sessions.

Intercultural Competence, Diversity and Inclusion Training

ICD&I training is woven throughout the Volunteer training continuum. The overall focus is on supporting trainees and Volunteers to expand their own expertise, create safe space, and build a more inclusive organization committed to appreciating and supporting difference of all types, supporting underrepresented Volunteers, and supporting cultural adaptation. Issues related to intercultural competence, diversity & inclusion, identity and power & privilege are all part of the curriculum.

Adjusting to a new culture can be very challenging, therefore, all Trainees will participate in cross-cultural training that will provide opportunities for you to reflect on your own cultural values and how they influence your behavior in Jamaica. The training will also help you improve your communication skills and understand your role as a Volunteer in development. Additionally, resiliency training will provide the necessary tools to help with any adjustment issues.

The host family experience provides a unique context for cross-cultural learning and is designed to help in the integration process. An orientation conducted by Peace Corps staff for Host families, communities, and Volunteer work partners highlights and examines issues of diversity, culture, and gender among American Volunteers, and how that compares to Jamaica.

Health Training

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, minor and major medical issues that you might encounter while in Jamaica). Nutrition, mental health, mosquito-borne illnesses, setting up a safe living environment, and how to avoid HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are also covered. It is important to be open and remain culturally sensitive as you undergo health training and suspend judgement so as not to project your cultural beliefs and values.

Safety and Security Training

During the safety training sessions, you will learn strategies to help you reduce your risks at home, at work, and during your travels. These strategies will help you to build awareness of culturally appropriate approaches to your safety. You will also engage in discussions around different types of unwanted attention and harassment and have opportunities to examine responses that may be employed when faced with such situations. The training will reinforce your individual responsibility for promoting safety throughout your service.