Empower University Students in Linguistics and Cross-Cultural Learning


Open to all RPCVs

Activity/project background

Partner: Odesa Polytechnic National University (OPNU) (Government)

Both the Foreign Languages and Information Technology (IT) Departments of Odesa Polytechnic National University in Ukraine meet demands of local businesses for highly qualified translators, interpreters, and IT specialists. Most students learn English to become competitive professionals in the job market and enhance their general understanding of both cross-cultural knowledge and soft skills. More than ever before, they appreciate socio-cultural development of their students and welcome every opportunity for them to engage in meaningful oral and written communication with U.S. educators and professionals.

Odesa Polytechnic seeks the support of two Virtual Service Pilot Participants (VSPPs) to engage 30 students in cross-cultural learning and discussions. Each VSPP will co-teach with a counterpart to an assigned group of 15 students, aged 18 -20 years. The topics for discussion will include various aspects of American culture, diversity and leadership in the modern world, environmental protection, and democracy values. Online sessions will take place once per week for each group of students and will be co-facilitated with one of the counterparts. The activity will help both students and teachers enhance their command of English, increase confidence in using the language for professional growth, and develop cross-cultural competencies.

Odesa Polytechnic University has previously worked with a Peace Corps Volunteer and a Virtual Service Pilot Participant. They understand that the role of a VSPP is very different than a two-year Volunteer.

Virtual service engagement and tasks

The VSPPs will engage in the following tasks, in collaboration with their Host Country Partners:

• Co-teach one weekly 90-minute cross-cultural awareness class to students after 4:00 p.m. Kyiv time
• Co-design class structure and session plans, adjusting training curriculum, and sharing efficient virtual tools
• Co-train students and counterparts on facilitating presentations, managing projects, and developing teaching resources

This engagement is expected to be approximately 12 weeks. VSPPs are expected to engage on the tasks listed above for an estimated 5-15 hours per week.

Meetings between VSPPs and Host Country Counterparts will take place during normal office hours, Ukraine time. Specific times will be determined during orientation.

The Host Country Counterpart will have access to Zoom, Google Meet, Viber, or Telegram for regular communication and collaboration.

Per the Child Protection Code of Conduct, when engaging online with minors (0-18), two adults must be present.

Optional additional activities

The Peace Corps mission is to promote world peace and friendship by fulfilling three goals:

  1. To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
  2. To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
  3. To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

Goal 1 will be achieved through the VSPP's engagement and completion of the above tasks. The counterpart and VSPP may also choose to identify an activity that aligns with Goal 2. Additionally, the VSPP may identify a Goal 3 activity to implement during their engagement. See recommendations and tools for Goal 3 activities.

Essential qualifications

Education: Bachelor’s degree in any field

Experience: 1 year of school teaching experience in any field

Intercultural skills and motivation: Flexible, strong cross-cultural agility, high tolerance for ambiguity, able to work independently, resourceful, creative, and genuinely motivated and capable to serve virtually

Desired qualifications

Education: Master’s degree in education, psychology, management, or related field

Technical Skills: Familiarity with virtual engagement and communication

• Experience coaching or training university students
• Experience facilitating personal development or life skills for adult learners

Terms and conditions of engagement

VSPPs will be engaging with the host country partner, in coordination with Peace Corps post staff, remotely from the US. They should have access to a computer, internet, and telephone in order to enable direct engagement with the Peace Corps overseas office and the Host Country Counterpart assigned by the host country partner.

Orientation with the host country partner will be provided, within the designated virtual service hours, during the first week of virtual service via an online presentation and discussion. The host country partner will provide an overview of its organization, the local context, and how they envision collaborating with the VSPP.

The VSPP will have regular check-ins with their counterpart and bi-weekly check-ins with Peace Corps staff. Spending unstructured time with counterparts can be critical to relationship-building and is encouraged through activities such as coffee chats and informal calls within the weekly 5-15 hours.

Engagement-specific safety and security

The VSPP will receive an orientation on Peace Corps’ Child Protection Policy and how it relates to online engagement along with IT security best practices. The VSPP will be expected to follow safety and security guidelines for online engagement to ensure their safety and that of the Host Country Partner and their counterpart, and any beneficiaries of the engagement.

Supervision requirements

The VSPP will report to a designated Peace Corps staff member. The VSPP will be expected to abide by the Virtual Service Pilot Participant and Donation Agreement and Participant Principles of Engagement. The VSPP will also be expected to check in with the designated host country counterpart as assigned by the host county partner.

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