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The Peace Corps uses a competency-based training approach throughout the continuum of learning, supporting you from arrival to Malawi to your departure back to the United States.

An image of Trainees during pre-service training

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, and covers technical, linguistic, intercultural competence, diversity and inclusion, health, and safety and security topics. To foster appropriate and effective integration into the community, Trainees typically live with a host family during pre-service training.
  • Technical training involves structured sessions and practical assignments working in the community. 
  • Language training typically involves classroom lessons several days a week in small groups. In addition to classroom lessons, you will also practice your language skills with your host family or in the community. The goal for pre-service training is to learn intermediate-level 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 pre-service training 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.
  • 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 also receive training in illness 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 trainings during Volunteer service include in-service trainings, 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 U.S. Americans within your group throughout service. 

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 host family, take care of many your own needs, and work either independently or in small groups to accomplish tasks that build your skill levels. Malawian facilitators will help you learn the necessary language and intercultural communication skills to accomplish your living and work tasks. Demonstrating the attributes and skills necessary to meet the needs of your assignment is a pre-requisite to taking the official oath of service to become a Peace Corps Volunteer service. 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

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Hands on technical training for Environment Volunteers

Technical training will prepare you to work in Malawi by building on the skills you already have and helping you develop new skills in a manner appropriate to the needs of the volunteer assignment. Peace Corps staff and other Malawi experts will conduct the technical 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 global core and sector-specific sessions, as well as sessions on the general economic and political environment in Malawi and strategies for working within such a framework. You will be introduced to your project framework which provides your sector’s strategic plan. You will continually be supported and evaluated throughout training and also given feedback in order to build the confidence and skills you need to undertake your project activities and be a productive member of your community.

Language Training

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Trainees are divided into small groups managed by a Language and Culture Facilitator to assist in learning

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. Malawian language facilitators teach language classes six days a week in small groups of three to five. 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 in your host community.

Intercultural Competence, Diversity, and Inclusion Training

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Learning to start a fire

Cross-cultural training will provide opportunities for you to reflect on your own cultural values and how they influence your behavior in Malawi. You will also discuss the questions you have about the behaviors and practices you observe in Malawi, exploring the underlying reasons for these behaviors and practices. Cross-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, gender roles, communication styles, and the concept of self and relationships. Because adjusting to a new culture can be challenging, you will also participate in resiliency training which provides a framework and tools to help with adjustment issues.

Health Training

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Trainees learn how to conduct a malaria rapid test

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. Additionally, you will learn more about nutrition, mental health, water and food safety, and prevention of malaria, COVID-19, HIV/AIDs, and other sexually transmitted infections.

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 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.