Facilitate English Conversation Sessions and Intercultural Exchange

Activity/project background

Partner: National Board of Technological and Polytechnic Universities (Dirección General de Universidades Tecnológicas y Polictécnicas [DGUTyP]) (Government)

Peace Corps works with small and medium-sized public universities within the Dirección General de Universidades Tecnológicas y Polictécnicas (DGUTyP) network that offer science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees. The majority of students at these universities commute to campus from underserved communities and many of them are on scholarships. Since it opened its first three universities in 1991, the DGUTyP subsystem has grown to include 157 universities throughout Mexico. Many of the universities have close relationships with local and regional industry clusters and could be considered “feeder” schools. As a result, many students can find internships and, subsequently, temporary, or permanent employment.

Virtual Service Pilot Participants (VSPPs) will have an opportunity to contribute to the educational and professional advancement of students attending Public Technological or Polytechnic Universities in the Mexican states of Oaxaca and Veracruz, by supporting English teachers to strengthen their English language and pedagogical skills, and by motivating students and fostering their confidence and English conversation skills. Since these partner universities are currently not served by two-year Peace Corps Volunteers due to logistical and/or safety & security concerns, the VSPPs will provide students with an opportunity to practice their English-language skills, as well as to engage in intercultural exchange, with a native English speaker.

The DGUTyP and some of the Universities listed as Counterparts have previously worked with a Peace Corps Volunteer or a VSPP. 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:

• Coordinate and plan with local English teachers to determine priorities, content, and approach for the sessions
• Design and deliver online English conversation activities for groups of approximately 35 students, integrating intercultural content into the activities
• Model effective online English learning facilitation techniques for local teachers
• Exchange best practices, lessons learned, and English teaching resources with local teachers
• Promote new synchronous and asynchronous technologies for English teaching and learning

This engagement is expected to be approximately 26 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, CST time. Specific times will be determined during orientation.

The Host Country Counterpart will have access to the Zoom virtual platform 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 OR relevant certification: TEFL, TESOL, Cambridge, or similar

• 1 year of TEFL/TESOL teaching experience in the U.S.A. or abroad
• Intermediate to advanced skills for managing online facilitation platforms such as Google Meet, Zoom, Microsoft teams, etc.

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, TEFL, TESOL, Cambridge or similar, or related field

Technical Skills: Familiarity with virtual engagement and communication

• 3 years TEFL/TESOL teaching experience in the U.S.A. or abroad
• Experience teaching English online or in virtual environments
• Co-planning and co-teaching experience
• Highly motivated and self-directed
• Experience living in Mexico or another Latin American country

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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