Community Economic Development Facilitator
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact Peace Corps domestically and internationally.
The information provided for each assignment is subject to change, including the tentative departure date.
Fiji is a small island nation steeped in proud tradition. Despite a century of colonization, the country has maintained strong indigenous identities and cultural practices. Fiji’s lands remain fertile, its oceans full of fish, and its villagers born into communal systems that still guide and support them through their lives.
Throughout history, most Fijians have lived within their means in a subsistence-oriented, bartering-based society. Today, the importance of money is surging, leading to a transition as people adapt traditional mindsets and behaviors to accommodate contemporary capitalism.
This is where Peace Corps Volunteers offer support. Fiji has the resources to see an economic growth that is shared broadly, but there are a variety of enabling skills that are not as consistent within the indigenous context: financial literacy and money management, recordkeeping, project design, risk management, monitoring and evaluation, and business development, to name a few. Volunteers are uniquely positioned to support the bolstering of these skills.
Nearly all Volunteers are placed in rural villages. Their goal is to help community organizations—such as women’s and youth groups—improve their project design and management skills, and to help individuals and families build income-generating activities and related money management skills. To accomplish this, Volunteers generally follow this sequence of activities:
1. Upon arrival to their community, Volunteers spend several months focused purely on integration and language learning, settling into local rhythms and joining their neighbors’ daily activities, such as farming, fishing, washing, cooking, and drinking kava.
2. In time, Volunteers begin to more actively collaborate with counterparts, such as village mayors, leaders of women’s and youth groups, and other community members who carry a spark of initiative. Together, Volunteers and counterparts plan and facilitate a variety of workshops and other participatory activities.
3. As needed and appropriate, Volunteers scaffold their community’s efforts to find and solicit support from the myriad government ministries and NGOs that provide relevant resources.
4. Finally, Volunteers and counterparts use coaching skills to help community members deepen and leverage their new abilities, cheerleading and celebrating successes along the way. Activities may include the development of cooperatives, communal projects, community savings groups, and an array of income-generating activities.
The focus of this approach is sustainable capacity building, and Volunteers generally do not take the lead in identifying priorities or executing projects. The Peace Corps defines Volunteer success by the quality of community learning and empowerment that they facilitate, rather than the number or size of the projects they complete. For Volunteers who arrive to Fiji fresh out of the achievement-driven pulse of many U.S. colleges and jobs, the quiet pace and hands-off approach of Peace Corps’ development model can take some getting used to. Rather than managing much themselves, Volunteers help their communities build a suite of basic organizational and economic skills that, when understood deeply and wielded with diligence over time, can be transformational.
Let it be clear that this job begins and ends with heartfelt integration into rural, conservative, unhurried villages. Volunteers’ first priority is to be engaged neighbors and friends, building genuine connections with the people around them. Along the way, there are vibrant opportunities for Volunteers to leverage their business skills and passions, empowering the economic advancement of the community they come to call home.
COVID-19 Volunteer Activities
In the past year, the world has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 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.
Qualified candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any business discipline
• 5 years' professional experience in business management
• At least one year of community service or volunteer experience that included individual capacity building through teaching, mentoring, or coaching adults, especially women and older youth
• Experience working in grassroots development or community organizing that involved forming and motivating groups of adults
• Experience writing proposals and using strong project design and management skills
• Experience advising or coaching entrepreneurs in the development of income-generating activities, including such tasks as market research, opportunity identification, feasibility studies, and business planning
• Experience managing core business activities, such as marketing, sales, bookkeeping, and quality control
• Experience coaching individuals in applying personal money management skills (i.e. saving, budgeting, financial goal setting, evaluating borrowing options), potentially through a community savings group or microfinance initiative
• Education, experience, and/or interest in land or aquatic farm management and agribusiness
• Interest in mastering a local language and working within cultural norms
• Interest in working collaboratively in a rural, traditional iTaukei village, with the resilience to persist in the face of challenges that a U.S. American may face working in a high power distance, collectivist society
Required Language Skills
There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position.
Fiji has three official languages: iTaukei, Hindi, and English. Volunteers study primarily iTaukei during Pre-Service Training, and continue their language studies throughout service. Volunteers’ ability to effectively integrate and work in Fiji depends in part on their language mastery. As such, Peace Corps expects Volunteers to take ownership of their language learning, actively building their skills across the length of their service through self-studies and language tutoring.
For many, the mention of Fiji conjures images of pristine waters and idyllic island living, and Fiji is indeed a country of shimmering beauty. At the same time, the daily reality for most Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) is textured and complex.
The indigenous Fijian village context is central to most PCVs’ experience. Villagers often place great value on hierarchy, Christianity, and traditional gender roles, and the Peace Corps’ approach to development asks PCVs to embrace these norms with curiosity and respect, even when it involves such acts as wearing restrictive clothing in hot, humid weather, conforming to gender expectations, or regularly attending church. Fijians are often playful—“cheeky,” as locals say—but (like all of us) also carry biases that can be hurtful. PCVs’ professional success hinges upon their ability to build the cultural sensitivity, maturity, and interpersonal skills to navigate these elements with grace, while also respectfully but vibrantly sharing who they are with their communities.
All Peace Corps PCVs live with a host family for ten weeks during Pre-Service Training (PST). After PST, PCVs are assigned to communities spread across numerous islands, with most based on the two larger islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. With few exceptions, PCVs live in rural villages, usually in an independent home that the village loans to Peace Corps. PCVs’ communities and homes vary across a number of factors, including:
• Location: Community locations range from small to large islands, and from coasts to mountainous interiors. Very few communities are next to sandy beaches.
• Housing type: While PCVs live in a variety of house types, most are fairly small and made from corrugated tin.
• Electricity: Some PCVs’ homes do not have consistent electricity. In these cases, Peace Corps provides a solar panel that can usually power one light or charge a phone.
• Phone/data coverage: Some PCVs do not have phone coverage within their home, though there are usually spots within walking distance where they can make calls or check email.
• Water: Some communities experience periodic shortages of fresh water, requiring PCVs to save and store water to use during those periods.
• Access to market towns: Few villages hold more than basic “canteen” shops, and market towns may be up to four hours away by public transit.
• Transportation: Some mix of buses, trucks, taxis, and vans are the primary means of ground transportation for most PCVs. In addition, some travel on small boats, inter-island ferries, or small airplanes.
Here are three other important elements of PCVs’ lived experiences:
• Food: While Fiji has an abundance of food, village diets are heavy in root starches, fish, canned meat, processed noodles, fried dough, and other oily foods, often featuring little variety and few vegetables. Peace Corps encourages PCVs to grow their own vegetable gardens.
• Religion: Fiji is a deeply religious society. While there are many religions throughout Fiji, Protestantism and Catholicism dominate in the villages where most PCVs live. Religion and culture are inextricable in Fiji, and Peace Corps encourages PCVs to engage in local religious activities as a part of their integration.
• Diversity: Hollywood stereotypes permeate many Fijians’ understandings of U.S. Americans, and PCVs who are of a racial, ethnic or other minority in the United States may encounter a high degree of unwanted attention. This includes facets of colorism and racism, even in the form of strong racial slurs. Many LGBTQIA+ PCVs choose not to reveal this identity to their communities during their service.
Peace Corps Fiji works intentionally to cultivate trust-based relationships and an inclusive, supportive environment for all PCVs, staff, and community members. Staff sponsor a number of Volunteer committees focused on various elements of the Volunteer experience, including diversity and inclusion.
Serving in Fiji
Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Fiji: 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.
Peace Corps Fiji welcomes couples to apply to this program as there are cultural benefits to being married in Fiji. Both partners must meet the qualifying skills and should possess a strong desire to work for the community and economic development of a rural Fijian village.
Couples live together with a host family during Pre-Service Training, and then have their own house together during service. Couples may be separated for in-service training events, which can last up to one week.
Couples serve in the same community, but are expected to develop unique work plans addressing different needs within their community.
Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.
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