Community Organizational Development Volunteer

Project Description

Kosovo is a relatively new nation rich in history, cultural diversity, natural beauty, and hospitality. A mountainous country with ample hiking trails and centuries old cultural heritage sites, Kosovo is home to Albanian, Bosniak, Serb, Turkish, Roma, Askhali, Egyptian, Gorani communities. Peace Corps Volunteers serving in Kosovo are participating in a significant and exciting period of growth and development in this fascinating and complex multicultural nation. Kosovo declared independence in 2008 and its citizens, including its vibrant young population, are working to strengthen and create better opportunities for their futures. The people of Kosovo are hospitable towards Americans and the Peace Corps Volunteers who leave lasting impacts on their communities. Since 2014, Volunteers have worked alongside counterparts in public schools and non-governmental organizations across Kosovo. Together, they have inspired students and expanded opportunities for youth and women. Kosovo is a small, emerging nation with tremendous potential and opportunities for creating positive change.

Community Organizational Development Volunteers work with local government and civic society organizations to promote citizen participation, especially among youth and women. Volunteers work in partnership with community members to strengthen the organizational capacity of local institutions and non-governmental organizations. They also encourage volunteerism through community-based projects. To support the economic upward mobility of youth and women, Volunteers organize employment skills trainings including networking, resume writing, interviewing, etc.

Volunteer duties often consist of the following:
• Co-facilitate with local partners a community-needs assessment to determine local needs and priorities;
• Co-facilitate community-based projects based on locally-identified needs;
• Plan and facilitate extracurricular programs that strengthen employability skills;
• Coordinate youth programming including clubs, camps, sports and other extra-curricular activities that support life skills, leadership, and volunteerism;
• Implement workshops to raise awareness about key issues and concerns in the community, such as, environmental protection, gender equality and property rights;
• Support organizations’ preparation and submission of project and grant proposals;
• Mentor youth and/or women in life skills and employability skills.

Other expectations include:

• Demonstrate independence, self-initiative, flexibility, open-mindedness, and commitment to serve.
• Possess an attitude of humility and curiosity towards other cultures.
• Exhibit adaptability and a willingness to sensitively communicate when confronting challenges.
• Demonstrate empathy and a willingness to view situations from multiple perspectives.

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.

Required Skills

Competitive candidates should have one or more of the following criteria:

• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline and 2 years’ management or organizational development experience with nonprofit organizations

• Master of Arts/Master of Science degree with an emphasis in non-profit management, public administration, or organizational development

• 5 years’ professional work experience with nonprofit organizations in a management or organizational development capacity

Desired Skills

• Experience in public administration and/or working with non-governmental organizations.
• Experience with organizational development or business management (marketing, financial management, etc.)
• Experience working with formal or informal youth and/or women’s groups/organizations.
• Experience planning and organizing non-formal educational activities (clubs, camps, service learning, sports activities, etc.) for youth
• Experience working on gender equality/women’s and girls’ empowerment initiatives or programs
• Experience developing employment skills training (networking, resume writing, interviewing, etc.) for youth and/or women
• Experience in fundraising and grant writing

Required Language Skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position.

While there is no language requirement for acceptance to serve in Peace Corps Kosovo, some communities have no English speakers, so all candidates should come fully prepared to learn the local language(s). There is great emphasis placed on Volunteers' language acquisition. All Peace Corps Volunteers are required to learn either Albanian or Serbian based on the language of the community where they will serve. Most Volunteers learn Albanian. Those Volunteers who are interested in learning Serbian and living in a non-majority community can indicate so before Pre-Service Training. Peace Corps encourages and supports language learning throughout Volunteers’ service by providing in-service language training and access to language tutors.

Living Conditions

Most Community Organizational Development Volunteers will live in medium sized towns and/or small cities (population 5,000 – 50,000). While some locations in Kosovo have good infrastructure, others do not. Homes generally have access to electricity, running water, and modest living conditions. Rooms are furnished with very basic furniture, and not every family member has their own bedroom. However, each Volunteer will have their own bedroom. Family members, guests and neighbors spend many hours together in the common rooms of the house during the cold winter seasons. In the summer, patios or balconies are common shared spaces. Social and cultural norms, as well as high rates of unemployment, contribute to the frequent and extensive use of shared living areas as sometimes multiple generations live under one roof.

Volunteers live with host families for a minimum of 9 months of service in their communities in order to facilitate community integration, language acquisition, and cultural adaptation, unless COVID mitigation measures require independent or semi-independent housing arrangements. Living situations may change depending on COVID mitigation protocols. If deemed appropriate, Volunteers may live in independent housing. Host families provide living space with a secure, private bedroom with basic furniture, a shared bathroom and kitchen. Volunteers in Kosovo often choose to live with their host families for 27 months as it as an important continuous learning experience that allows deeper understanding of the Kosovar culture. In general, in small communities and even in larger cities, there are few affordable options available for Volunteers to live independently. Integration with a family is important for community engagement. Kosovars generally live together in larger, multi-generational households with typical gender roles and norms. Concepts of privacy and independence in Kosovo are often different from the norms and expectations of most Americans. Most families will expect Volunteers to spend much of their free time with the family.

Spring and fall months are mild with some rainfall, while summers are hot and dry. Winter lasts from November to March with some snowfall, similar to the Mid-Atlantic area of the U.S. However temperatures may feel colder because few homes have central heating. The majority of homes in Kosovo use wood stoves for heating in just one room of the house where everyone gathers during the cold months. Homes, schools, and office buildings typically do not have central heating or air-conditioning. Cigarette smoking inside households is common.

Kosovo is a conservative culture with traditional gender norms. Kosovars are generally accepting of different religions, but outward displays of religious symbols, such as wearing crosses or hijabs, are discouraged. In smaller communities, there are more conservative views regarding alcohol consumption, sexual orientation, gender identity, dress and social activities. Larger towns and cities may have different views. However, Volunteers of an American racial, ethnic, or national minority or whose religious or spiritual beliefs differ from the majority of the country of service may experience challenges related to curiosity or unwanted attention. Volunteers are encouraged to use these moments as opportunities to deepen local community members’ understanding of U.S. diversity by sharing their values and experiences. Staff will address these topics during Pre-Service Training and identify support mechanisms for incoming trainees such as various discussion panels with diverse Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs), Volunteer-led committees with a focus on diversity and inclusion, peer support networks.

Serving in Kosovo

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Kosovo: 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.

Couples Information

Peace Corps Kosovo can accommodate couples (male-female) serving in different sectors (English Education and Community Organizational Development combination). Under special circumstances, a couple where both are serving in TEFL or COD might be able to be accommodated. During Pre-Service Training, couples are offered the option to either live together or live separately. Living separately during training can assist with quicker language acquisition and cultural integration.

Couples are generally well-regarded and treated with respect. They typically encounter fewer integration issues because marriage between a man and a woman is a common convention. Couples live with a host family for at least 9 months of their service (if COVID conditions permit). They may be extended a bit more privacy in the household.

During their service as Volunteers, couples are placed with host families, but may have more independent living space (an apartment on a separate floor of a large family home).

Medical Considerations

Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.

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