Community Development Volunteer

Before You Apply

You can only have one active Peace Corps Volunteer application, so choose a position that best fits your skills and interest. You have the opportunity to tell us if you’d like to be considered for other openings and more about the ones that interest you most! See application process

Project Description

Community Organizational Development Volunteers are typically placed in one of two types of settings:
• Municipal departments such as social services, youth culture, sports and civil society, project development, European Union (EU) integration, planning, or development.
• Non-governmental organizations (NGO) or state institutions such as regional offices of state social service agencies and the Regional Directorate of National Culture.

Project activities are focused in several key areas:
• Building civil society: Cultivating a culture in which individuals actively participate in identifying and assessing community needs and priorities as well as in local decision-making;
• Youth development: Creating programs and community services that develop youth job skills, professional readiness, leadership, and volunteerism
• Marketing and outreach: Promoting the historical, cultural, and touristic assets of your community;
• Advocacy and lobbying: Assessing community needs and outreaching to build support for important community issues;
• Project design and management;
• Organizational development.

Volunteers work with youth to develop their entrepreneurial skills and employability skills, including resume writing, job research, interviewing, mentoring, internships, and job-related soft skills. Volunteers and their local counterpart/s are the main liaisons with their community's youth council, working to develop civic awareness campaigns and youth participation in decision making and other community projects.

Volunteers collaborate with their colleagues to promote networking and partnership-building among local stakeholders and assist community organizations with project design and management. They support their counterparts build skills in management, organizational development, customer service, and financial management.

In many Albanian communities GIS/mapping or information/communication technology development experience may be useful for secondary projects or as a minor part of your main project.

Other activities may include:
• Editing materials in English;
• Training others in basic computer skills;
• Helping your colleagues improve their business English skills;
• Teaching conversational English to counterparts and other community members;

Many Volunteers also work to promote healthy lifestyles.

Your host agencies and other organizations working to promote civil society and institutional development in Albania will provide various types of support for your activities.

Placements may be anywhere in Albania except certain areas of the country that are designated as off-limits. No Volunteers will be placed in the capital. In some rare cases, Volunteers may be placed in a few of the larger towns of Albania and some may be placed in very rural areas. Conditions, especially in winter, may be uncomfortable at sites.

Required Skills

Qualified candidates will meet one or more of the following criteria:
• Bachelor of arts/Bachelor of science degree in any business discipline
• 5 years professional experience in business and/or nonprofit (NGO) management

Desired Skills

Experience in one or more of the following areas:
• Project design and management
• Youth development: Developing programs and services that nurture youth leadership and employability
• Entrepreneurship: Promoting/building a culture of entrepreneurship
• Tourism marketing: Promoting your community’s historical, cultural, and touristic assets
• Advocacy and lobbying: Building support for community-identified issues

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 challenging language. 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 the majority of your service. PST will give you the basis for continuing to develop your language skills during service. Diligent commitment to learning Albanian during PST and throughout your service will help you acquire language skills that will be critical to developing relationships within your communities and the success of your projects.

Following PST, all Volunteers are required to retain a tutor for the initial six-months of service.

Living Conditions

You will live with a host family during Pre-Service Training and for the first six months after training at your permanent site. After that period, you may be assigned to live with another host family or may live independently in housing identified by your host agency. Peace Corps works with your host agency to ensure that all housing meets Peace Corps safety and security criteria.

Housing options in Albania are generally small in scale. You should anticipate living in less space, in closer proximity to others, with far fewer amenities, and less privacy than you are used to.

Housing is often scarce and expensive. In many communities, it is unusual for a single woman to live alone – or to walk alone in the street. Most communities in Albania are conservative and close-knit. You may choose to live with a family after the mandatory 6-month home stay for many reasons, including convenience, social integration, and/or personal security.

Most Albanian villages and towns have electricity and running water, but power and water outages are frequent. Houses are not centrally heated, and most Albanians heat only one room with a gas or electric heater. Peace Corps will provide you a small space heater. Toilets are often squat-style instead of commode-style. Outside temperatures range from 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer to below freezing during the winter, depending on your location.

It is likely you will significantly modify your standard of living while serving in Albania. This may be more difficult than it seems. Volunteers also often face challenges around the expectations of community members who perceive Americans as wealthy. These expectations are sometimes reinforced by the smart phones, tablets, expensive-looking cameras and iPods that Volunteers use during service. You will need to become comfortable explaining that during service you live on a modest allowance provided by Peace Corps.

You will spend most of your time in your community but may travel periodically to the closest larger town to access supplies and services. You should be prepared to walk long distances (several miles) regularly, especially during Pre-Service Training.

Food in Albania is readily available, although shopping and food preparation are time consuming as there are few processed items available. Vegetables are seasonal and meat is expensive, which means that bread, beans, rice, yogurt, and cheese are common staples.

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

Couples Information

Albania cannot accommodate couples within the same sector. Therefore, your partner must qualify and apply for:

Health Education Volunteer or English Education Volunteer

Couples will likely be placed in different host families during Pre-Service Training, which will allow them to study language independently, to train with peers from their own programmatic sector, and grow and develop individually before being sworn in as a Volunteer (Swearing-In). During service couples will live together with the same host family. Couples may be separated for workshops and conferences for up to two weeks at a time due to in-service training events.

Medical Considerations in Albania

  • Albania may not be able to support Volunteers  with the following medical conditions:  insulin-dependent diabetes;  gastroenterology; some types of gynecologic support; mammography; ongoing behavioral health support; seizure disorder; urology.
  • 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:  gluten.
  • After arrival in Albania, 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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