The Peace Corps experience is one of continuous learning. PC’s global approach to learning is Volunteer Competency Model (VCM), which supports professional service and performance development. It prepares PCVs to serve as partners to local counterparts and communities in the advancement of host country development priorities and the formation of intercultural relationships that span decades and boundaries. The training program prepares and supports PCVs for their job as development professionals and ambassadors of peace and friendship in Moldova. Professional Peace Corps service involves four interrelated job functions:
- Exemplify commitment to service and resilience: This is the mindset, orientation, or approach PC bring to service and work and their way of “being.”
- Demonstrate responsibility for personal health, safety, and security: This involves the strategies PCVs use for health prevention and safety and security risk mitigation, and the commitment to care-seeking, reporting, and response.
- Integrate into communities. This is how Volunteers relate to themselves and others, across aspects of identity and culture and across similarities and differences, in individual interactions, interpersonal interactions, and as part of an organization and communities.
- Facilitate participatory development: This involves mutual learning and transferring skills – “doing” work in collaboration with others, consistent with Peace Corps’ approach to development and your role as a Volunteer.
The VCM includes three types of competencies:
- Core competencies apply to all Peace Corps Volunteers, regardless of their assigned project/sector.
- Technical competencies apply to PCVs based on the project to which they have been assigned. Each of the Peace Corps sector has its own technical competencies.
- Capacity building method competencies are standard. Each project uses a set of standard capacity building method competencies.
PC supports PCVs with a variety of formal and informal trainings designed to aid the development of these competencies and utilizes a variety of methods to support PCVs’ learning, assessment and performance. This includes:
- Pre-Service Training (PST)
- Reconnect In-Service Training
- Language n-Service Trainings
- Project Planning Workshop In-Service Training (Project Specific Technical IST)
- Youth Empowerment Summit (at Technical ISTs)
- Safety & Security Training (at all ISTs)
- Mid-Service Training (MST)
- Close of Service Conference (COS)
- Ongoing Learning Activities
The goal of the Pre-Service Training (PST) is to prepare and support PCTs for their job as development professionals and ambassadors of peace and friendship in Moldova.
PST goes to the heart of what it means to be a Peace Corps Volunteer- a respect for local knowledge, a faith in the wisdom of the people, and a humble awareness of one’s own strengths, gifts, and challenges.
Before PST, Invitees take the Pre-Departure online course and learn about the host country, the program and the project they are assigned to and they learn about the PST.
PST starts the moment Trainees arrive in the country. All Volunteers, regardless of education and experience, participate in a ten-week training before beginning their assignments. PC’s global approach to learning is Volunteer Competency Model (VCM), which supports professional service and performance development. PST contents supports the demonstration of the competencies in four job functions Volunteers need in order to be sworn in
- Exemplify commitment to service and resilience
- Demonstrate responsibility for personal health, safety, and security
- Integrate into communities
- Facilitate participatory development
Peace Corps Volunteer Competencies are the cornerstone of the Volunteer Competency Model, they are the minimum global standard for Volunteer learning. Assessment of the Volunteer learning and performance is based on the Volunteer Competencies, it measures Trainee and Volunteer learning necessary for effective service and reflects on and monitors performance for ongoing development.
PST includes a variety of learning experiences that contribute to PCVs’ personal growth and professional development to be successful in service as Peace Corps Volunteers in Moldova. From instructor-led sessions, field-based learning, practicum in the future sites of the PCVs' service, and navigating new ways of being and doing in Moldova PCVs adjust existing knowledge, skills, and attitudes to the local context and put new learning into practice in this environment.
PC Moldova implements a community-based model (CBT) for the PST. In a CBT PST Trainees live in small groups of ten in a Moldovan village (PST Site), with Moldovan host families (HFs), having formal language and culture training each day in the PST Sites’ Schools, with PC Language and Technical Instructors (LTIs) in the mornings and technical training in the afternoons provided by the program staff (PMs/PSs) and Technical Trainers, with directed home assignments (self-directed activities) and technical training provided by the program staff (PMs/PSs) and Technical Trainers in the mornings and PC Language and Technical Instructors (LTIs) in the afternoons. Once a week all the PCTs travel to meet with the whole group in a neighboring town (Hub Site), for global core sessions, including administrative, medical and safety sessions and for communication on the updates.
PC Moldova implements a blended approach to training. Trainees will participate in in-person sessions and activities and will access diverse interactive e-learning materials and resources on LearningSpace (PC Learning and Management System (LMS)).
PCTs are responsible for demonstrating the competencies designed to prepare them for service as development professionals, respected and reliable partners, resources to their host organization, and caring and culturally sensitive members of their community and host family.
Ongoing Training during Service
During a PCV’s two years of service, PC Moldova provides ongoing support for improving cultural integration and technical skills and to reinforce safety and security awareness. The training varies by project area and individual needs and includes a combination of formal in-person or virtual in-service training events (ISTs), language weekends, self-study, experiential learning, tutoring, and collaboration amongst PCVs. PC Washington policy advises a maximum of 15 days for formal ISTs during the two years of service. ISTs address integrated objectives and include varying elements of language, intercultural competence, safety and security, medical, sector specific and volunteer efficiency as aspects of the learning continuum. Peace Corps Moldova has created a schedule of diverse training events, which may vary slightly, based on sector–specific needs, or current topics. Trainings are generally based on assessing the needs of participants and matching these needs with the on-going learning goals and competencies, which extend beyond PST and into the full time of PCVs’ service. While we have some flexibility in organizing the content, and designing agenda to address participants’ needs, there are several times during the 2-year service when PCVs are required to attend trainings: Reconnect IST (about 3 months into service), Language ISTs) (integrated into other ISTs), Project Planning Workshop ((PPW) 5 months into service), Youth Empowerment Summit ((YES) 8 months into service integrated into other ISTs), MST (end of year 1), and COS (4 months prior to end of service). These are non–negotiable and have a set of predetermined objectives.
In most instances, ISTs are organized to conform to the school break schedule for the EE and HE PCVs, or on weekends, so that PCVs’ work schedules are minimally disrupted. If a PCV cannot attend part or all of an IST, s/he should discuss this in advance with the staff member in charge of organizing the IST. The PCV and the staff member in charge will work out a plan of action to address the material that will be covered during the IST. The Training Manager will provide the PCVs with the PCVs training calendar with ISTs at the end of PST. If changes are made later, they will be announced to PCVs well in advance. PCVs should not plan vacation time or invite friends and family for the period when an IST is scheduled. Several of these trainings are also designed to facilitate and support the productive relationship and interaction between the PCV and their counterpart. Counterparts will be invited to participate at the ISTs together with the PCVs. Peace Corps trainings are an integral part of our business and should be viewed as strictly work time. The expectations for appearance, timely attendance and active participation reflect the level of professionalism of the PCVs and the organization as a whole.
The goals of the first IST are to allow the PCVs reconnect with each other and staff as resources, to allow PCVs and partners to share their progress with community integration and work engagement and to advance their collaboration and use of the participatory action tools.
Project Planning Workshop
The Project Planning Workshop (PPW) builds PCVs’ and their Counterparts’ community development skills and strengthens their capacity for project work. The goals and objectives of the PPW include reinforcing the principles of community participation in a project, providing concepts, tools, strategies and skills for involving community members, identifying tools to carry out successful projects in the communities, working through the steps of project planning and learning a process they can replicate in their communities and developing a plan of how PCVs and Counterparts will apply the skills and knowledge learned.
Language In-Service Trainings
As an essential key to success, PC Moldova strongly supports PCVs integration into their communities, which includes the ongoing development of the intercultural engagement and language and intercultural communication competencies. Community integration includes the identification and development of a broad array of communication skills including learning the local language, understanding U.S. and Moldovan cultures, and developing the engagement and intercultural skills. These competencies are supported by promoting ongoing language learning at site and participating at the language refresher (ISTs) provided during the first year of service.
Youth Empowerment Summit (YES)
The goal of the YES is to strengthen the Local Teams consisting of adults and youth to identify and use local resources to promote volunteer activities and community leadership by developing leadership skills (identify, organize, implement, evaluate) for young people, identifying solutions to local problems, planning a small but impactful activity for the community and developing skills in working with young people (for adults)
Mid-Service Training (MST):
MST is the time to reflect and account for the successes and challenges of the first year of service. It is also designed to provide the space for Volunteers to share resources and tools which have worked for them. At mid-point of the PCVs service, PCVs will be guided to utilize their newly gained expertise to design a plan for a second year of service, in order to ensure sustained impact in their communities. MST is usually a 2-day workshop.
Safety & Security Training (included in all ISTs)
As PC Moldova considers the safety and security of PCVs of utmost importance, training on these issues will be conducted during PST and is integrated into ISTs throughout service. Post conducts periodic surveys of PCVs that provide information on when and where PCVs may be at risk. This information then forms the basis of training sessions, which also include material on the conditions that contribute to risks, strategies PCVs have used to reduce risk, and the importance of reporting incidents to the PCMOs and/or Safety and Security Manager as appropriate.
Close of Service (COS) Conference
A Completion of Service conference is held approximately four (4) months prior to the scheduled COS date for each group. The broad purposes of a COS conference are: (i) to review, assess and celebrate PCVs’ achievements in service; (ii) to begin preparation for re-entry to the US; (iii) to prepare for continued support of PC’s Third Goal; (iv) to identify and review skills necessary for the job market; (v) to process program, administrative and medical details for closing service. COS is a 2-day workshop.
Ongoing Learning Activities
PC Moldova supports PCVs’ ongoing learning. This includes a combination of self-study, experiential learning, language tutoring, language-learning weekends (ie: online training sessions, work-shadowing, skills and experience exchanges, cross-project skills training, etc.)
Community Integration Toolkit
PC Moldova has created a resource, the Community Integration Toolkit, to support PCVs with their ongoing development of community integration competency. This tool is particularly useful early in a PCV’s service in identifying community resources, identifying cultural norms and beliefs, and unique aspects of the communities to which they are assigned.
Part of all PCV jobs includes learning alongside partners and developing their professional skills on an ongoing basis. The more PCVs know about their jobs, their organizations, and their development sectors, the more they can share with their partners and their organizations. This is a key component to PCVs’ ongoing professional development.
Ongoing Language Learning
PCVs are encouraged to study Romanian and/or Russian throughout their service. PCV productivity and happiness generally increase as their ability to communicate with friends, colleagues, host family members, and neighbors improves.
PC Moldova supports ongoing PCV language learning in multiple ways. Trainees are provided guidance during PST on how to identify tutors and continue to make progress in their language learning. We periodically conduct training for PCV tutors and reimburse a limited amount of PCV tutoring costs. We also create ongoing language learning materials (including e-learning) and occasionally publish short articles in the Weekly Highlights for the PCVs to use at their own pace. In addition, Peace Corps uses many language learning resources to support PCVs with developing their own ongoing language learning strategies. PCVs are encouraged to seek staff support with identifying these resources and developing individual language learning plans.