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 lessons five days a week in small groups. In addition to classroom lessons, 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 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 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 trainings during Volunteer service include in-service training after one to three 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.
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. Mexican 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 TrainingPre-service training focuses on three core competencies that all Peace Corps Volunteers must meet in order to demonstrate their readiness to serve: 1) integrating into the community, 2) facilitating participatory development, and 3) exemplifying professional service. You will also need to meet technical competencies and learning objectives related to your assignment (environmental education, natural resource management, or teaching English), as well as medical, safety and security, intercultural, Spanish language and other learning objectives – all important learning that will help you to have a safe and productive service in Mexico. You will gain valuable new knowledge, skills, and attitudes through your core and technical training that will not only make you a more successful Volunteer but will also serve you in your post-Peace Corps endeavors in the U.S. or abroad. If you bring significant life and work experience with you, you’ll contribute to the group’s learning, and you yourself will learn a great deal about your field in the Mexican context and how you can adapt your attitudes and expertise in order to integrate successfully, transfer your knowledge and skills to others, and add value to existing projects and initiatives at you future site. If you’re a recent graduate or a young professional, you’ll gain the necessary knowledge and skills you need to go to your site with confidence and integrate with local people and partners, conduct an assessment of your site’s needs and priorities, work effectively with your counterparts, identify your niche, and start planning to strengthen local capacities in the area of environmental education, natural resource management, or teaching English.
Language TrainingLanguage 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.
Language classes are conducted daily at the Peace Corps office with professional Spanish teachers, all of whom have university degrees in Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language. Class sizes are small (three to six students) and groups are assigned by language level using a brief pre-departure phone conversation you will have with the language, culture, and host families coordinator. Spanish is essential for safe and productive service in Mexico and trainees are required to take an oral exam, or Language Proficiency Interview (LPI), at the end of PST before they are authorized to swear-in as Volunteers. The best advice is to start learning Spanish now. Currently serving Volunteers strongly recommend studying pre-departure, whether it’s with free online resources, with Spanish-speaking
community members where you live, or even taking classes at a local community college if your budget
Intercultural Competence, Diversity, and Inclusion TrainingThe host family experience provides a unique context for cross-cultural learning, and 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 PST and to assist them in helping you adapt to living in Mexico. Many Volunteers form strong and lasting friendships with their host families. Two-thirds of the Peace Corps mission is intercultural relations. During pre-service training, you will have infinite opportunities to learn about Mexican culture, discover the differences between U.S. American and Mexican culture, think about how those differences may impact your service, and develop strategies to adapt your behavior to respect the local norms and values, stay safe, be productive in your work, and contribute to Goals 2 and 3 of the Peace Corps mission. A very significant component of your language and intercultural training is the homestay experience during PST. You will have a private room, a shared bathroom in most cases, and you will eat breakfast and dinner with your host family nearly every day. All of the Peace Corps/Mexico host families have been vetted to ensure that their homes are in compliance with the agency’s demanding safety standards, and only families who are genuinely interested in the Peace Corps mission are selected. Every family participates in our orientation program to ensure that they understand the key role they play in your integration, learning, health, and safety. Trainees who make the effort to spend time with their host families learn more Spanish, integrate faster into Mexican society, and overall have a more satisfying PST experience.
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 Mexico. 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 suspend judgement as to not project your cultural beliefs and values.
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 indirectly 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.