Co-facilitate Cross-Cultural Communication for University Students

Activity/project background

Partner: National Universities in the cities of Cherkasy, Odesa, Kherson, and Poltava (Government)

This engagement will partner five (5) Virtual Service Pilot Participants (VSPPs) with the following universities: 1) Cherkasy University, 2) Odesa University, 3) Kherson National Technical University, and 4) Poltava University, all of which are leading educational, scientific, and innovative academic centers in Ukraine. They achieve their educational goals through the implementation of various projects and development programs in accordance with the values of universities: competence, professionalism, quality, creativity, and integrity.
Most university students learn English to become competitive professionals and enhance their general understanding of intercultural knowledge and soft skills. More than ever, the institutions appreciate socio-cultural development of their students and welcome every opportunity for them to engage in meaningful oral and written communication with U.S.-based educators and professionals. All universities that are participating in this engagement have an advanced English language curriculum, have previously worked with in-person Peace Corps Volunteers, and are highly motivated to engage students in meaningful communication with VSPPs.

Each VSPP will be assigned to collaborate with a counterpart and group of 20 students at one of the universities to enhance the students’ command of English, increase confidence in language usage for academic needs, improve students’ communication skills, and develop intercultural competencies. By engaging with a VSPP, students will immerse themselves in an English-speaking environment and have opportunities to communicate with native speakers. Details about the university and the engagement will be provided after the selection process during a meeting with Peace Corps Ukraine staff.

All universities have previously collaborated with the Peace Corps. They understand that the role of a VSPP is very different than a two-year Volunteer.

Virtual service engagement and tasks

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

• Co-assess student needs, the current curriculum, and develop session plans
• Co-develop and adapt teaching resources on U.S. culture (sport, youth life, cuisine,
healthcare, mass media, social networks, art and culture, education, etc.)
• Co-teach English as a Foreign Language (EFL) and language skills to a group of 20 students
by using information on English-speaking countries, primarily the U.S.
• Co-analyze results of conducted sessions and identify learning objectives and appropriate communicative activities

VSPPs are expected to engage on the tasks listed above for an estimated 5-15 hours per week. This
engagement is estimated to be 5 (1.5 hours/week online with students) hours per week. Online collaboration will generally occur between 3:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Ukraine time. Specific times will be determined during orientation.

The Host Country Counterpart will have access to Zoom, WhatsApp, and 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: 2 years of experience in TEFL/English teaching to university faculty (or adults)

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 of Arts in Teaching (MAT) in English, Teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL), or Education

• Experience with virtual engagement and communication
• 3 years of experience in TEFL/English teaching to university faculty (or adults)

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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