Community and Youth Development Volunteer

Before You Apply

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Project Description

Armenia has been in transition politically, socially and economically since the collapse of the Soviet Union, and is a country with tremendous possibilities. Local community development, particularly youth development, is often overshadowed by investments in infrastructure, economic development, and legislative reforms. Youth organizations throughout Armenia lack resources and assistance to provide continuous services to develop their communities. Community and Youth Development (CYD) Volunteers work to fill community-identified service gaps and empower young community members to build skills and strong communities and organizations.
In this assignment CYD Volunteers work with local NGOs and community-based partners, such as schools, informal community-based youth groups, and educational institutions, in towns and villages across Armenia. These organizations have diverse missions addressing issues related to children and youth, including: youth with disabilities, at-risk youth, human rights, women’s empowerment, the environment, and other community-specific issues.

CYD Volunteers empower youth to be active citizens through life skills activities, volunteerism and service-learning initiatives, employability skills training, and the development of youth organizations, clubs, and camps that carry out community projects. Volunteers work with youth through a variety of formal and informal avenues, finding creative ways to address topics that are interesting and engaging and foster positive youth development. Depending on the partner and the community’s specific needs, Volunteers may work with youth and NGO staff to build individual and organizational capacity.
Volunteer activities include, but are not limited to: facilitating workshops and seminars for young people, NGO staff, and community members; developing and leading youth clubs and camps and other community projects; and assisting in event planning, strategic planning, project and grant development, writing, and monitoring and evaluation. Volunteers in this assignment must also expect to work directly with youth in student councils, youth clubs and other formal or informal youth groups. Volunteers may also initiate and organize clubs and activities related to other community members’ interests and needs (i.e. clubs developing young parent‘s employability skills).

Community Integration: Community integration is an indispensable part of Volunteer work. To be successful in service, Volunteers must be accepted by their communities. The responsibility for integration rests on Volunteers and host communities, and that includes learning the Armenian language. During Pre-Service Training, Peace Corps Armenia provides tools and strategies for Volunteers to enhance their community integration and language acquisition. The Volunteers’ main assignment during the first three months is community integration. By devoting attention to community integration at site and to language learning, Volunteers lay the groundwork for their future community work.

Required Skills

Qualified candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:
• Bachelor's of Arts/Bachelor's of Science degree in any field
OR
• 5 years' professional work experience
AND
• A desire to work with young people and various groups of community members.

Desired Skills

• Recent experience with youth in summer camps, clubs, sports, mentoring, volunteerism, service-learning, community service project planning and implementation, or other areas of non-formal education.
• Experience teaching life skills, leadership, and/or employability skills through clubs, sports and mentoring.
• Experience working in, or a strong understanding of, the non-profit/NGO sector.
• Experience with community-based programs, including knowledge in needs assessments, strategic planning, project planning, and/or community outreach.
• The ability to adapt to unfamiliar customs and family norms is an important skill to have or obtain.
• Candidates with a Bachelor of Social Work are encouraged to apply.

Required Language Skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position. Please take a moment to explore the Language Comments section below to find out more on how local language(s) will be utilized during service.

Armenian is a phonetic language with a unique 39-letter alphabet in the Indo-European language family. Invitees must be motivated and ready to dedicate themselves to learning a complex language that is not spoken widely outside of Armenia. Trainees receive 11 weeks of small group training during Pre-Service Training (PST) in Armenian. Trainees take an oral proficiency exam at the end of PST and must attain a Novice High level in order to serve as a Volunteer. To help facilitate language learning, Invitees are invited to participate in a 6-week pre-departure course and an 8-week post-PST course. Please note: If invitees choose to study Armenian before arrival, they should study Eastern Armenian.

Living Conditions

Armenia is a small and beautiful country. The winter months (November to March) come with heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures. The summer months (June to September), depending on the Volunteer’s site, can range from 100-degree temperatures every day, to more mild weather.

Volunteers are required to stay with host families during Pre-Service Training (PST) and for an additional three months after training. The host family experience is a unique opportunity for Volunteers to fully immerse themselves in the Armenian language and culture. Many Volunteers live with their host families for the entirety of their service because of their comfortable relationship with the family and a scarcity of independent housing options in many rural sites. Availability of independent housing after the required homestay will depend on the Volunteer’s placement site, therefore Volunteers should be fully prepared to stay with a host family during their 2 years of service.

Despite limited exposure, host families and counterparts are accepting of diversity among Volunteers and close relationships are formed. However, Volunteers who do not resemble the Armenian profile (particularly African Americans, Asian Americans and other people of color) should expect to receive additional unwanted and sometimes negative attention. Further, although homosexual relationships are not criminal in Armenia, openly gay relationships are not socially accepted by the general population and Volunteers are advised to be very cautious. Peace Corps Armenia’s pre-departure materials and Pre-Service Training will address these types of concerns to prepare Volunteers for service. Peace Corps staff and second-year Volunteers also serve as a support system for Volunteers.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Armenia: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and safety — including crime statistics [PDF] — in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Medical Considerations in Armenia

  • Armenia may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: cardiology; insulin-dependent diabetes; requiring a psychiatrist for psychotropic medications support; seizure disorder; ongoing counseling.
  • The following medication(s) are not permitted for legal or cultural reasons: Adderall, Ritalin, and Vyvanse.
  • Volunteers who should avoid the following food(s) may not be able to serve: none identified. 
  • After arrival in Armenia, Peace Corps provides and applicants are required to have an annual flu shot and mandatory immunizations.

Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the clearance process and other health conditions that are difficult to accommodate in Peace Corps service.


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