Community Development Volunteer

Before You Apply

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Project Description

As a Community Organizational Development Volunteer, you will be assigned to work in a municipal government office, a non-governmental organization (NGO), state institution, or state social services organization. From these organizations you will address the needs of the community in regards to social services, youth culture, sports and civil society, project development, or European Union integration.

You will work alongside others at your host organization to engage in the following:
• 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.
You work is not limited to these areas – Volunteers in the Community Organizational Development project are encouraged to work on a broad base of topics and issues as directed by the needs of the community.

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 (geographical information system)/mapping or information/communication technology development experience may be useful for secondary projects or as a minor part of your main project.

Additionally, as a Volunteer 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, or promoting 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 where foreign language schools are located; however, the vast majority of placements will be in the 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
• Strong desire to work with, develop, coach, and mentor youth

Desired Skills

Experience in one or more of the following areas:
• Project design and management
• 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 choose to live with a different host family or may live independently in housing identified by you or your host agency. In some small towns, it is not possible for Volunteers to move from their host family due to the availability of housing options. 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. In rural parts of Albania, housing is often scarce and in many communities, it is unusual for anyone, man or woman, to live alone – or to walk alone in the street. Most communities in Albania are conservative and close-knit. Many Volunteers choose to live with a family after the introductory 6-month home stay for many reasons, including convenience, social integration, personal security, or a lack of other housing options.

Most Albanian villages and towns have electricity and running water, but power and water outages are frequent. 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 a small space heater and toilets are often squat-style. Additionally, Volunteers should be prepared to adjust in all ways to living with an Albanian family. It is common, especially in the winter, for families to smoke indoors and spend time as a family in only one room to conserve heat.

Outside temperatures range from 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer to below freezing during the winter, depending on your location. Volunteers should be prepared for a wide spectrum of climates throughout their service.

You will need to 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. As a Volunteer you will need to become careful in how you carry yourself and intentional in using electronics that are not wide accessible to Albanians.

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). You should be prepared to walk long distances (several miles) regularly, especially during Pre-Service Training or throughout a Volunteers’ 24-month service. Additionally, throughout your service you should expect to carry your own luggage and walk extensively, often on uneven ground. Additionally, Peace Corps will provide you with several items related to health and safety (water filter, smoke alarm, fire extinguisher, and other items); you should expect to be responsible for transporting these items as well.

Volunteers are not permitted to take leave during the Pre-Service Training, during their first three-months at site, or during their last three-months at site.

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

Post can accept the following couple’s combinations:
• Community Development Volunteer & TEFL Volunteer
• Community Development Volunteer & Health Volunteer

Couples will likely be placed with different host families during PST, allowing them to study language independently, train with peers from their own programmatic sector, and grow and develop individually before joining their partner once training is complete.

Following PST, couples will be placed in the same host family.

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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