The Peace Corps training plan is designed to provide you with the necessary training “just in time” before you will need those skills or knowledge. Through the duration of your 27 months of service, you will receive a Pre-Service Training and four in-service trainings designed to deepen your language and technical skills and address other topics in the evolution of your service.
Upon your arrival in Timor-Leste, you will begin Pre-Service Training. The purpose of Pre-service Training is to prepare you for the first 3-6 months of service. 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 approximately 10 weeks and will include a wide range of activities to build language and integration skills so that you can thrive in your service. Successful sustainable development work is based on the relationships you build by respectfully integrating into the host country community and culture.
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. Much of your time will be in small language learning classes. 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 PST 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.
In Pre-Service Training, your technical trainers will help you get prepared to begin your future work assignment in Timor-Leste, together with other staff, currently serving Volunteers counterparts, and guest speakers.
Technical Training for Community Economic Development (CED) Volunteers
Your success as a CED Volunteer will depend on how effective you are, in the first 3 – 6 months at site, in integrating in your community, building relationships with your community members and assessing community needs using Peace Corps’ Participatory Analysis for Community Action (PACA) approach. Hence, technical training in PST is more about learning to discern how a community “suco” works together than it is about learning the “technical skills” of supporting income generation activities. Additional technical training will be provided to you during your In-Service Trainings to further deepen your skills to support your work in the CED project, based on what you have found to be the needs in your communities.
In addition to interactive presentations by staff, guest speakers and currently serving Volunteers you will also participate in a series of field activities (sometimes called “practica”) where you can put into practice what you are learning in PST. You will be assigned a group, similar to the types of groups you will work with at your permanent site, and progress through a series of activities to discover and engage groups to identify their goals.
You will be trained to teach non-formal English classes and should expect to do so through your service. CED Volunteers are frequently asked to teach English to community members or for specific work purposes. It is an excellent way meet requests of the community, gain their confidence and build relationships in your community.
Technical Training for Education (ED) Volunteers
As an ED Volunteer, your success will depend on how effective you are, in the first 3 – 6 months at site, in integrating in your school and community and building relationships with your teachers, students and community members and co-teaching English with your fellow teachers. Hence, technical training in PST focuses on understanding the structure of the education system, how schools operate, how to plan and deliver lessons with Timorese co-teachers and manage a classroom. In addition, you will be trained on how to use Peace Corps’ Participatory Analysis for Community Action (PACA) approach in a school setting to learn, in a participatory manner, what priorities teachers, students, parents and administrators may have at your school.
In addition to interactive presentations by staff, guest speakers and currently serving Volunteers you will also practice teaching English with a Timorese teacher of English. You will be assigned a co-teacher that you will work with to plan deliver English classes. You will also learn about Timor community structures and participate in a field activity to engage youth and community members in afterschool activities.
Subsequent In-Service trainings will continue to strengthen your skills in teaching, conducting teacher-trainings, co-facilitating informal activities to engage youth in afterschool activities and supporting school administrators in improvement education development in their schools.
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. The official language of instruction in schools is Portuguese although Tetum and indigenous languages are widely used in most schools. More than 90 percent of the population speaks one or more local indigenous languages. 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 will provide opportunities for you to reflect on your own cultural values and how they influence your behavior in Timor-Leste. You will also discuss the questions you have about the behaviors and practices you observe in Timor-Leste, exploring the underlying reasons for these behaviors and practices.
Cross-cultural and technical training will help you improve your communication skills and understand your role as a facilitator of development. 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.
The 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 Timor-Leste. Many Volunteers form strong and lasting friendships with their host families.
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. At the end of training, each trainee will also be asked to write a personal health plan on how they can maintain good health in country. This is a requirement prior to swearing-in.
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. Also, safety training is integrated into the language and cross-culture training activities to reflect the Volunteer reality and lifestyle. Safety training is not only for Volunteers, but is also provided for host families, Volunteers’ co-workers, and supervisors. At the end of pre-service training, you will be tested on your knowledge, skills, and abilities on safety and security core sessions. This is a requirement prior to swearing-in.