Training and Ongoing Learning

The Peace Corps uses a Volunteer Competency Model (VCM) as the agency standard for learning and performance. The VCM prepares and supports Volunteers to be effective in service as development professionals and ambassadors of world peace and friendship.

The Peace Corps training program includes an intensive pre-service training, in-service trainings, and a close of service conference. Throughout service, there are ongoing self-directed and guided learning experiences for Volunteers to develop and adapt core and technical competencies required of successful service.

Overview of pre-service training

Pre-service training is conducted by Peace Corps staff – most of whom are residents of the host country, with participation of current Volunteers. Peace Corps staff design training and learning experiences and assess your development and performance of the competencies to perform the following job functions required of all Volunteers: exemplify commitment to service and resilience, integrate into communities, facilitate participatory development, and demonstrate responsibilities for health, safety and security. You are required to meet established competency benchmarks, including language proficiency benchmarks in the local language, in order to be eligible to swear-in as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

Fostering and sustaining intercultural relationships across similarities and differences is the foundation of Peace Corps’ approach to development. Therefore, in order to prepare Volunteers to integrate into host communities and develop intercultural competency, many Peace Corps programs arrange homestays with local families for an immersive language and intercultural experience. Living with host families also helps Volunteers develop appropriate and effective strategies to maintain health, wellness, and safety and security in the local context.

Technical training

Technical training builds on skills you have and emphasizes how to adapt and transfer those skills to host country counterparts and community members. Training and learning opportunities are designed for you to develop the technical competencies required of your assigned project – from agriculture to education to community economic development – to implement project activities, monitor, learn, adapt and report progress, and to engage in mutual learning and collaborate respectfully with others.

Language training

Language proficiency in the local language(s) is critical to implement activities in your assigned project, develop effective and appropriate intercultural relationships with community members, and mitigate risks to your personal safety and security. A significant portion of your pre-service training will be dedicated to language learning, with a mix of classroom, field-based learning, and self-directed language learning.

During pre-service training, you will participate in language instruction in small groups several days a week and complete regular assignments using the local language with a host family or community members. You will also learn strategies for ongoing language learning to continue your language learning journey throughout service. You must meet a minimum language proficiency benchmark for oral communication in order to swear-in as a Volunteer.

Intercultural competence, diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility training

Intercultural competence and diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (ICDEIA) training is designed using the self-other-bridge model.

The model starts with self-awareness and critical self-reflection. It prepares you to analyze your own reactions and worldviews – the identities, feelings, values, experiences, and attitudes that are present for you in a given situation.

The second part of the model moves to perspective taking. This involves an exploration of others’ worldviews to try to understand something from an alternate point of view, taking into consideration how the identities, feelings, values, experiences, and attitudes of others are present in a situation.

Lastly, the model focuses on bridging – exploring options and behaviors that can serve as a bridge between two or more perspectives. This involves considering actions that might require adjustments to your own behavior to foster connection, collaboration, and inclusion.

ICDEIA training will cover cultural dimensions, such as concepts of time, power and privilege, communication styles, intersectionality and other aspects of identity, mattering and marginality, as well as aspects of culture, diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in the host country.

Health and wellness training

During pre-service training, Peace Corps medical officers prepare Volunteers to demonstrate responsibility for personal health and wellness in service. The training focuses on preventative strategies, medical guidelines, and policies for reporting and response when urgent/emergent health needs present. Health topics covered include: routine health problems, behavioral health and well-being, gastrointestinal illness, mosquito-borne illness, sexual health, nutrition, and alcohol and substance abuse, among others.

Safety and security training

Maintaining personal safety and security during service is a shared responsibility of the Peace Corps and Volunteers. During pre-service training, you will learn what you can do to reduce risks in your home, in your workplace, and while traveling in country. You will learn to identify and mitigate safety risks, as well as about the support the Peace Corps provides in the event you become the victim of a crime.

Safety and security training consists of global core sessions on personal security and risk reduction, dealing with unwanted attention, sexual assault awareness, reporting and response, and bystander intervention, as well as country-specific sessions on topics such as: home safety, emergency action planning, transportation safety, gender and interpersonal relationships, incident reporting and response, and Peace Corps policies and legal context.

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