Community Economic Development Facilitator
Since 1963, over 5,000 Volunteers have served in Guatemala making it one of the Peace Corps’ longest standing posts. Volunteers serve in municipalities in one of six departments in the Western Highlands. A country of striking features and a strong indigenous culture, Guatemala's natural beauty and powerful identity stand prominent in Central America. Indigenous populations make up about half of the population, with a high concentration in the Western Highlands. More than 20 indigenous languages are spoken alongside Spanish, the official tongue. Strategically located, with substantial natural resources and a young multi-ethnic population, Guatemala has enormous potential to generate growth and prosperity for its people. However, poverty and inequality in the country are persistently high. High rates of childhood stunting and lack of opportunities for youth, women and the indigenous populations threaten Guatemala’s ability to reach its full potential. Peace Corps Guatemala responds to these inequalities through strategic governmental collaborations and community empowerment within four program areas: Youth in Development, Maternal and Child Health, Community Economic Development, and Rural Extension.
In recent years, the Guatemalan government has increased efforts towards poverty reduction and greater economic equality through the implementation of agreements, national policies, and normative and political frameworks. The Community Economic Development (CED) program supports national strategies and creates a space for Volunteers to, along with community partners, support women, youth, and indigenous populations on advancing gender equity and financial inclusion in a culturally appropriate manner. The program has a two-pronged approach: working with local stakeholders to strengthen local and governmental organizations and supporting individuals in leadership positions to transfer essential knowledge and practices, with a focus on personal money management and basic business skills.
Work partners include representatives from the Ministry of Economy (MINECO), Women’s Secretary of the Presidency (SEPREM), Women’s Municipal Office (DMM), local Economic Development Offices (OFE), and not-for-profit organizations. In all facets of the CED program, Volunteers are expected to take the role of a co-facilitator and co-trainer, working side by side with work partners, to promote the sustainability of the program.
Volunteers will co-conduct organizational strengthening activities at local, municipal (county) and/or departmental (state) levels that promote increased collaboration, information transfer and resource sharing between and among project stakeholders. Volunteers will co-facilitate participatory tools and exercises with an assets-based approach to encourage groups to recognize their strengths and be agents of change in their communities.
Volunteers will also support community leaders and groups to implement participatory projects that foster gender equity and financial inclusion in a culturally appropriate manner. This work may include co-conducting an organizational capacity assessment, co-planning and co-training asset-based community development sessions, and co-facilitating project design and management processes. In their day-to-day work, Volunteers play a critical role in accompanying organizations throughout their gradual organizational capacity development process by providing an ongoing and supportive presence.
Volunteers will also support preparation and delivery of personal money management and basic business skills trainings, as well as provide ongoing support to participants as they apply these skills and knowledge shared in the trainings. Trainings may also include topics of gender equity and financial inclusion. Volunteers will co-facilitate participatory tools and exercises with work partners to identify and connect with additional resources.
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.
Qualified candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any field
• 5 years' professional work experience
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 management.
• Masters of Business Administration degree or a Masters of Arts/Masters of Science degree in Business Administration, Marketing, Public Administration, Management, Accounting, Banking, Finance, or Gender Studies.
• Knowledge of Financial Education/Literacy and microfinance.
• Business advising and/or coaching experience.
• At least 1 year of experience working with cooperatives, small or micro businesses, or credit unions involving management or administration, sales and marketing, cost analysis, financial planning, inventory control, and/or bookkeeping.
• Experience employing organizational capacity development strategies including participatory assessment, decision-making, and planning processes with community-based organizations, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), and/or community development projects.
• Experience forming and motivating groups of adults.
• Experience facilitating participatory, asset-based processes.
• Experience and/or interest in business, community development, and outreach.
• Experience teaching or providing training to adults; especially with women, youth, or indigenous populations.
Required Language Skills
Candidates must meet one or more of the language requirements below in order to be considered for this position.
A. Completed 4 years of high school Spanish coursework within the past 8 years
B. Completed minimum 2 semesters of Spanish college‐level coursework within the past 6 years
C. Native/fluent speaker of Spanish
Candidates who do not meet the language proficiency levels above can take the language placement exams to demonstrate their level of proficiency. Competitive applicants typically attain a score of 50 on the Spanish College Level Examination Program CLEP exam or a score of Novice‐High on the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL OPI).
Volunteers need to demonstrate an Intermediate Mid level of oral and written proficiency in Spanish for community placement by the end of Pre-Service Training. Most Volunteers will work directly in Spanish and some will work in communities with Mayan languages with support from a Spanish/Mayan speaking community member. Volunteers serving in areas where Mayan languages are spoken may study the local language once they arrive to their community to assist with integration into the community and basic communication.
Work Site and Housing
Most Volunteers live in medium-sized to larger rural communities (3,000 – 40,000 people). Most communities have electricity and running water, but the supply may be intermittent. Fruits, vegetables, and meats are available on site or in nearby communities. Housing typically consists of cement block structures with a private bedroom and shared kitchen, bathroom, and living rooms. The phone plan Peace Corps provides includes credit for some local calls and limited internet. Most access to internet in their communities either in a local internet café or by purchasing additional internet data.
Host Family Situation
Volunteers are required to live with a host family during the 10-week Pre-Service Training and during the two years of service to increase integration and for continuous orientation to the local safety and security concerns. It is important that applicants be willing and eager to interact and live with a Guatemalan host family. Many Volunteers cook for themselves during service, but some opt to eat with their host family or in small local restaurants.
While Guatemala is generally tolerant, values concerning sexual orientation and gender identity may be different from those in the U.S. Volunteers will need to be mindful of cultural norms, and use their judgement to determine the best way to approach communicating sexual orientation and gender identity in their communities and host countries. Volunteers who are of an American racial, ethnic, or national minority or whose religious or spiritual beliefs differ from the majority of their country of service may find they experience a high degree of curiosity or unwanted attention from host country nationals. Staff and currently serving Volunteers will address these topics during Pre-Service Training, and identify support mechanisms for incoming trainees.
Volunteers are placed in Guatemalan communities which may be quite mountainous and, due to the altitude, can be cool to cold at night. Dressing in layers is the best way to deal with the daily temperature variations. The sunlight is strong, even during colder temperatures.
Personal appearance is important to people in Guatemala, so professional or business casual dress is expected. Dressing appropriately helps Volunteers to gain respect in their host community, facilitate integration, and increase credibility and effectiveness. It is advised to take cues from Guatemalan colleagues, and dress to meet/exceed their standards of professionalism.
Volunteers with visible body piercings must remove them before arriving to Guatemala. Those with tattoos will need strategies to conceal them. In Guatemala, tattoos may be associated with criminal activity. Likewise, having visible body piercings may make it more difficult to integrate into the host community. Keep in mind that Peace Corps/Guatemala staff ask Volunteers to be flexible with regard to personal appearance to facilitate integration in training and during service. Remaining flexible is the key to Peace Corps service in any country.
Guatemala is a traditional and religious society. People’s roles in regards to gender, work, and the community are much more clearly defined along gender roles than in the U.S. Volunteers must be aware, tolerant, and respectful of their practices, customs, and way of life and they may need to adapt certain behaviors to demonstrate that respect.
The cultural and security considerations for alcohol use differ greatly in Guatemala and the United States. Volunteers must understand and evaluate the social and cultural implications of alcohol use in their communities. Peace Corps service has many stressors and it is important for applicants to bring healthy self-care practices and coping strategies that will help them serve positively within country. Additional conversations and guidance on coping strategies will be shared during the Pre-Service Training period
Serving in Guatemala
Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Guatemala: 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/Guatemala is happy to accommodate cross-sector couples. We will identify communities with sufficient work opportunities for both Volunteers. Your partner can apply and must qualify for: Youth in Development Program Coordinator
Couples will not live together during the ten weeks of Pre-Service Training. Guatemala’s community-based training model places trainees in communities based on their technical program and Spanish level. Special considerations are given to couples so that they live in nearby communities and they will have more flexibility to see each other (e.g., on weekends). Language acquisition and cultural integration increase when each member of the couple lives with a separate host family. After training, couples will live together for the duration of their service.
The Peace Corps works to foster safe and productive assignments for same-sex couples, and same-sex couples are not placed in countries where homosexual acts are criminalized. Because of this, same-sex couple placements are more limited than heterosexual couple placements. During the application process recruiters and placement officers work closely with same-sex couple applicants to understand current placement opportunities. For more information please visit: https://www.peacecorps.gov/faqs/lgbtq/.
Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.
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