Pre-Service Training

Your pre-service training will consist of intensive in-country training in four major areas: language, cross-cultural adaptation, technical job orientation, and Volunteer health and safety. The length of your training will be from nine to 11 weeks. At the end of training, all trainees must pass qualifying criteria in each of these areas to be sworn in as Volunteers. Training is held in small communities outside the capital similar to those in which you will live and work as a Volunteer. During training, you will live with a Timorese host family, where you will share meals, language, and other cross-cultural experiences. You will have the opportunity to practice language, cross-cultural adaptation, and technical skills in an environment similar to the one in which you will be living and working as a Volunteer. Throughout training, you will be encouraged to continue examining your personal motivation for joining the Peace Corps and your level of dedication and commitment so that by the time you are asked to swear in as a Volunteer you will be making an informed and serious commitment that will sustain you through two years of service. Trainees spend much of their time in small language classes. They also spend time in technical studies combined with practice of new skills at the community level. Each week all trainees meet together at a central training facility for group sessions. This combination of formal classroom study with ample opportunities for practicing new language, cultural, and technical skills has proven to be an extremely effective way of preparing Volunteers to work as independent professionals once their service begins. There will also be occasions after pre-service training when Volunteers meet for special workshops to increase skills in a particular area or to assist with project development.

Technical Training

Technical training also includes sessions on community development strategies, and information on the health, agriculture, environment, economics, and government structure in Timor-Leste as well as strategies for working within the project framework. Since projects focus on integrated community development, you will also receive technical training in the cross-cutting areas of youth development, and gender and development (GAD).

Language Training Post

As a Peace Corps Volunteer, you will find that language skills are vital to personal and professional satisfaction during your service. These skills are critical to your job performance, help you integrate into your community, and can ease your personal adaptation to the new surroundings. Therefore, language training is at the heart of the training program. You must successfully meet minimum language requirements to complete training and become a Volunteer. Timor-Leste language instructors usually teach formal language classes five days a week in small groups. 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 develop strategies to continue studying language during your service.

Language is a complex issue in Timor-Leste. Although Tetun is an official language along with Portuguese, few people actually speak Portuguese with any fluency. More than 90 percent of the population speaks one or more local indigenous language. Because the government of Timor-Leste has adopted Tetun as both the national and official language of the country, the Peace Corps follows suit in emphasizing Tetun speaking ability for all Volunteers. As Tetun has been influenced greatly by Portuguese, invitees are urged to brush up on any Portuguese or Spanish language skills they may have before arriving in the country. Tetun is not an especially difficult language to learn for an English speaker, but it is much easier if you already have basic competence in a Romance language.

Cross-Cultural Training

Cross-cultural and community development will be covered to help improve your skills of perception, communication, and facilitation. Topics such as community mobilization, conflict resolution, gender and development will be covered.

Health Training

During pre-service training, you will be trained in health prevention, basic first aid, and treatment of medical illnesses found in Timor-Leste. You will be expected to practice preventive health and to take responsibility for your own health by adhering to all medical policies. Trainees are required to attend all medical sessions. Health education topics will include nutrition, food and water preparation, emotional health, dealing with alcohol, prevention of HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and common illnesses in Timor-Leste.

Safety and Security Training

During the safety and security training sessions, you will learn how to adopt a lifestyle that reduces your risks at home, at work, and during your travels. You will also learn appropriate, effective strategies for coping with unwanted attention, how to identify safety risks in-country and about Peace Corps’ emergency response and support systems.