Organizational Development Volunteer
Albania is a dynamic country that has seen significant change over the last several decades since its transition from communism. Albania’s natural resources, and strategic location at the Western edge of the Balkan peninsula, has allowed for rapid development in some sectors. However, this growth has not been distributed equally across communities, as demonstrated by a growing wealth gap, and many communities in need of services better tailored to meet local needs.
Soon after the earthquake disaster of November 26th, 2019, the global COVID-19 pandemic affected Albania. Once more, this revealed the need to strengthen institutional structures, civic education and engagement, community development structures, local businesses, and civil protection disaster management strategies.
As an Organizational Development (OD) Volunteer, you will be assigned to work in a local government unit, a non-governmental organization (NGO), or in a state institution to support your local community in one or more of the following areas: social services, tourism development, youth, culture and sports, civil society, project design and development, or European Union (EU) integration. Your work will be based on the strengths, needs and interests of your host agency and community. More specifically, you will work alongside your counterparts on locally prioritized projects with some of the following activities:
• Strengthening organizational development processes.
• Building civic engagement by cultivating a culture in which individuals actively participate in local decision-making, identifying and assessing community needs and priorities.
• Creating youth development opportunities and structures and community service activities that improve youth leadership skills, promote and encourage community service and volunteerism, and equip youth with knowledge and skills useful for the world of work.
• Conducting marketing and outreach that promotes the historical, cultural and touristic assets of your community.
• Conducting advocacy activities to build support for important community issues, identifying underserved groups and closely supporting them through engagement and empowerment activities.
• Designing and managing projects.
• Supporting counterparts to build skills in management, organizational development, networking, and delivery of social services.
• Incorporating gender equity in projects and initiatives developed with counterparts.
• Promoting rural development initiatives.
OD Volunteers are encouraged to work on a broad range of topics and issues as directed by the needs and interests of their specific host community. The Albanian government in recent years has prioritized youth development to increase youth engagement in civil society and decrease emigration, so working with youth will be a priority.
Given Albania’s rich history and culture, natural beauty, and economic potential, Tourism and Economic Development are two areas you may focus on. Some of the main activities within these fields are: designing and maintaining webpages for the promotion of tourism and economic opportunities, creating and maintaining social media for marketing purposes, assisting homeowners in touristic areas to develop guest houses, developing and mapping hiking trails for tourism purposes, helping colleagues with event planning and assisting businesses to incorporate technology in their operations in order to improve their marketing processes and outreach.
As a Volunteer, you will collaborate with underserved populations, such as Roma, disadvantaged youth, disadvantaged women, the elderly, and people with disabilities. Additionally, you may also engage in the editing of English language materials, training others in basic computer skills, helping your colleagues improve their business English skills, teaching conversational English to counterparts and other community members, and/or promoting healthy lifestyles.
COVID-19 Volunteer Activities
As a Volunteer, you will be trained in how to best protect yourself from COVID-19 exposure and understand the impact of and steps to reduce stigma related to COVID-19. You may also have the opportunity to engage with your community on implementing or enhancing COVID-19 mitigation activities, such as COVID-19 prevention and risk reduction strategies including social distancing, hand washing, mask wearing, addressing myths and misconceptions related to these practices, and vaccine hesitancy. Activities will be tailored to address the COVID-19 circumstances in the communities where you will serve.
Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any business discipline
• 5 years of professional experience in business and/or nonprofit (NGO) management
• Strong desire to work with, develop, coach, and mentor youth.
Experience in one or more of the following areas:
• Organizational Development
• Community Development
• Civic Engagement (mostly targeting youth)
• Project design and management
• Tourism marketing: Promoting your community’s historical, cultural, and touristic assets
• Youth Development
• Advocacy and lobbying: Building support for community-identified issues
• Entrepreneurship: Promoting/building a culture of entrepreneurship
Required Language Skills
There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position.
Pre-Service Training (PST) will focus on language and cross-cultural adaptation. Albanian (Shqip) is a unique language, not closely related to any other. It is also a challenging language to learn. Your language training will focus on developing your competency as a communicator, not grammar skills. Language acquisition is difficult and will consume a substantial part of your time and energy during training.
You will speak in Albanian for most of your service. PST will give you the basis for continuing to develop your language skills on your own. Diligent commitment to learning Albanian during PST and throughout your service will help you acquire language skills that will be critical to building relationships within your communities and the success of your projects.
Following PST, all Volunteers are required to retain a tutor for at least the initial 6 months of service.
Volunteers are placed across the entirety of Albania except for a limited number of areas designated as off-limits due to historic security concerns. Peace Corps Albania and Montenegro strives to serve underserved communities, which is why as a Volunteer you should be prepared to serve in communities and regions with less services and conveniences than you may be used to.
All Volunteers in Albania will live with host families during their initial Pre-Service Training (PST) and for an additional six months at a minimum during their service. Some Volunteers may live with a host family for their entire 27-month service for several reasons, including convenience, better social integration and personal security, or a lack of other housing options.
Homestay arrangements are facilitated by Peace Corps Staff in coordination with your Host Agency to ensure that housing meets Peace Corps health, safety and security criteria. Your host family will be in your community of service, within walking distance of your place of work. Host Families undergo training on a range of safety, security, health and cultural topics to prepare them to effectively host a Volunteer.
Housing options in Albania are generally small in scale. You should anticipate living in less space with fewer amenities and less privacy than you are used to. Maintaining a good relationship built on mutual respect with your host family will be critical for your successful service. While Host Family training conducted by Peace Corps staff covers best practices on how to host Volunteers, you will primarily be responsible for communicating with your host family and setting mutually agreed upon expectations.
Most Albanian villages and towns have electricity and running water, but power and water outages may occur. Houses are not centrally heated and most Albanian families heat only one room with a gas, wood, or electric heater. Peace Corps will provide you with a small space heater for your bedroom, but many Volunteers still spend most of the evening with host family members in one heated room. Some homes may have squat toilets.
Volunteers often face challenges around the expectations of community members who perceive Americans as wealthy. These expectations are sometimes reinforced by smart phones, tablets, and wearable technology that Volunteers often use during service. As a Volunteer, you will need to be careful in how you carry yourself or use electronics that are not widely accessible to people in your community.
Temperatures in Albania range from 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer to below freezing during the winter. Conditions, especially in winter, may be uncomfortable at sites, particularly in mountainous regions where snow can accumulate. Volunteers should be prepared for a wide spectrum of climates throughout their service.
Cigarette-smoking indoors and outdoors is very common in Albania. In addition to cigarette smoking, there can be heavy amounts of smoke from coal-burning and woodstoves for heating during the winter.
During your service, you will spend most of your time in your community but may travel periodically to the closest larger town to access supplies and services (including an ATM), or to Tirana or other cities in Albania for official Peace Corps business. You should be prepared to walk long distances (several miles) regularly, often on uneven ground. Peace Corps will provide you with several items related to health and safety (water filter, smoke alarm, fire extinguisher, medical kit, and other items).
Volunteers are not permitted to take leave during PST, as well as during their first 3 three months and last 3 months in their community.
Serving in Albania
Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Albania: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, health, and safety -- including health and crime statistics -- in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.
Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.
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