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 PST 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. [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.
The length of pre-service training is eleven weeks, plus a one-week Phase 2 pre-service training which occurs about three months after you complete the training and are sworn in as Volunteers.
Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL): This technical component will focus on theories, methods and techniques for Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL). In addition you will be familiarized with teaching English in the context of the Macedonian educational system. It will also introduce you to Macedonian schools: the structure, teaching methods, the attitudes of teachers and students, and the underlying philosophy of education upon which these are based. The training incorporates a wide range of training activities and events all based on the concepts of adult learning. There will be opportunities for independent and self-directed learning supported by informational sessions with lots of opportunities for discussion and sharing, as well as hands-on experience, including teaching in local schools, and trainer feedback, as part of the practicum.
Community Development (CD): This technical component is designed to enable you to build your skills, knowledge, and attitudes to act as competent community development players with the local organization you will serve in during your Peace Corps service. It will give you the opportunity to become familiar with the Macedonian NGO sector and the local government system. It will also concentrate on building skills for conducting local needs assessments, project design and management skills, networking, and organizational development. The training is designed to provide you with basic knowledge and skills for the first three months in-country working in a different cultural context. The training incorporates a wide range of training activities and events all based on the concepts of adult and experiential learning. There will be ample opportunities for independent and self-directed learning supported by informational sessions and hands-on experience, through working with a sample number of community/organizations to assist you in understanding the local conditions as a part of the practicum.
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. .
Language instructors teach formal language classes four days a week in small groups of four to six people. There are two languages taught in our program, Macedonian and Albanian. Some Volunteers will learn only Macedonian, while another group will learn both Macedonian and Albanian.
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 at your site. Prior to being sworn in as a Volunteer, you will work on strategies to continue language studies during your service.
Intercultural Competence, Diversity, and Inclusion Training
Cross-cultural training will provide opportunities for you to reflect on your own cultural values and how they influence your behavior in North Macedonia. You will also discuss the questions you have about the behaviors and practices you observe, exploring the underlying reasons for these behaviors and practices. 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 very challenging, you will participate in resiliency training which provides a framework and tools to help with adjustment issues. As part of your pre-service training, you will live with a Macedonian or Albanian host family. This experience 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 pre-service training and to assist them in helping you adapt to living in North Macedonia. Many Volunteers form strong and lasting friendships with their host families. This component is designed to provide you with abilities, knowledge, and outlook in order to understand, value and adapt to life and work in North Macedonia and develop personal strategies to cope with cultural challenges. It will be integrated into all components of training and it will be even more emphasized and reinforced by your homestay family experience and the discussions with the language and technical trainers.
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 (country). 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.