English Education and Youth Development Volunteer

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.

Project Description

In August 2018, Peace Corps was invited to establish a program in Montenegro. At the request of the Government of Montenegro, the program focuses on English Education and Youth Engagement. This program is managed and supported primarily by Peace Corps Albania staff in Tirana, Albania. Since Peace Corps operates in Montenegro as an extension of the Peace Corps Albania Post (which has been in operation since 2003), the program is now called “Peace Corps Albania and Montenegro.”

Volunteers selected to depart in 2022 will be the second group of Peace Corps Volunteers to serve in Montenegro. Volunteers will depart for service together with other Volunteers who will serve in Albania. They will be initially supported by one program staff member based in Podgorica, Montenegro as well as staff based in Tirana, Albania. Medical and training support, as well as overall leadership of the Montenegro program, will be provided from Tirana, Albania. Therefore, Volunteers will have to cross borders and travel to Tirana for trainings or medical appointments.

Volunteers serving in Montenegro in 2022 will be some of the first Peace Corps Volunteers in this country, therefore they will have an increased level of responsibility beyond the already important role of Peace Corps Volunteers around the world. The selected individuals will not only be effective English teachers, but will also establish the reputation and credibility of Peace Corps. Service in Montenegro will have the additional challenge of navigating greater levels of ambiguity than a Volunteer in an established program. This cohort will help Peace Corps learn what it means to be a Volunteer in Montenegro and build a stronger program. The individuals selected should have demonstrated high levels of initiative and resilience, strong communication skills, and the ability to work well with various stakeholders, including community members, school faculty, and Peace Corps staff.

Due to the aforementioned, your service in Montenegro will require a “pioneer” attitude. This unique opportunity to help build the foundation of the Peace Corps presence in Montenegro will be accompanied by increased attention. You should anticipate considerable interest in your work performance and cultural integration by your Montenegrin colleagues, the Ministry of Education, and the broader public. The highest degree of professionalism is expected.

Volunteers will mostly be assigned to primary (K-9) schools, although some may be placed in high-schools, and will co-teach with one or more Montenegrin English teachers. As an English Education and Youth Development Volunteer, you are expected to cooperate and work alongside your teacher counterpart, whether it be for lesson planning or co-teaching in the classroom. In other words, you are expected to act in accordance with the professional standards followed by the teaching staff at your placement school. This includes arriving to work on time, attending staff meetings, and contributing to a full teaching schedule five days per week.

Your work will focus on improving the English language skills of students and teachers, and introducing new teaching techniques to teachers. You will cultivate other non-traditional learning events such as English clubs or other activities which promote the speaking of English after regular school hours. The Montenegrin school year runs from September through June with breaks around the end-of-year holidays. All Volunteers must adhere to the local school calendar and its holiday schedule as it relates to their primary role. During the summer, you will engage in youth development by implementing activities in your community such as camps or other student-centered events.

Patience, flexibility and good humor will be essential, as all aspects of the program design, training, and operations will be new. During the first three months of training, you will receive instruction in the Montenegrin and Albanian languages. You are expected to fully commit to learning and practicing language skills, as language is an essential element of successful Volunteer service.

Beyond the classroom, you will work towards Peace Corps goals two and three by living and spending time in your Montenegrin community with your host family and community partners. These goals are of great significance to Peace Corps’ work in Montenegro, especially when considering the United States’ complicated role in the Balkans during the 1990s. Earning the trust of the Montenegrin people will be critical to your success as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

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.

Required Skills

Competitive candidates will have a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline, a strong desire to teach English,
AND
A strong desire to work with, develop, and coach youth.

Desired Skills

Competitive candidates will possess the following skills or experience and one of the education qualifications:

• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in English, TEFL, TESOL, ESL and TESL, or foreign language with six (6) months classroom teaching experience at the primary, middle, or secondary level in English, TEFL, TESOL, ESL, TESL, or foreign language.
• Master of Arts in Teaching English, Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL), Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), English as a Second Language (ESL), Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL), foreign language, or Applied Linguistics.
• Master of Education with graduate or undergraduate concentration in English, TEFL, TESOL, ESL, TESL, or a foreign language.
• Experience with curriculum development or teacher professional development workshops.
• Demonstrated experience in planning and organizing activities for children and young adults.
• Demonstrated independence, self-initiative, flexibility, open-mindedness, and commitment to service.
• Strong sense of responsibility and desire to be among one of the first groups of Peace Corps Volunteers serving in Montenegro.
• Ability to navigate challenging and ambiguous situations, including a willingness to fail and share these failures to help organizational and individual learning.

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 and Montenegrin are challenging languages. 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.

During PST, you will learn the basics of both the Montenegrin and Albanian languages. The reasoning behind this is twofold. First, you will have to occasionally travel to Albania for trainings, medical checkups and administrative appointments, so knowing basic Albanian will be important. Second, some Volunteers will be placed in Albanian minority communities where Albanian is predominantly spoken. These Volunteers will dedicate more time to learning Albanian than others. Still, it is good to know that the majority of Montenegrin-Albanians are fluent in Montenegrin as well. PST will give you the basis for continuing to develop your language skills during service.

Following PST, all Volunteers are required to retain a tutor for the initial 6 months of service to strengthen conversational learning of the language. The amount of time and energy that you invest in your language acquisition will pay off in terms of your integration at site and your successful service.

Living Conditions

While Montenegro has a growing tourist economy along the coast, Volunteers will be placed in under-served communities with the greatest need. Volunteer sites are likely to be off the main roads in small communities (as few as 500 residents or up to 5,000 residents) with access to fewer resources than coastal cities or the capital. Transportation options in and out of your community may be limited, therefore it may not be easy to travel from community to community. You will be expected to walk or take public transportation (where available) to your assigned workplace. Moreover, you may live up to 45-50 minutes from your assigned work place, therefore you should plan to arrive at your work site in a timely manner. All sites will meet Peace Corps safety and security requirements.

All Volunteers in Montenegro will live with host families during their initial pre-service training and for an additional six months at a minimum during their service. Some Volunteers may potentially live with a host family for their entire 27-month service. Living arrangements will be in in modest living quarters. While you will have your own room, you will have less privacy than what you are used to due to societal norms for communal activities. Kitchen facilities and bathrooms will be shared with host families. Communities in Montenegro are often conservative and close-knit. While both your site and housing will meet Peace Corps safety and security requirements, housing will differ depending on local conditions and will vary from Volunteer to Volunteer. Electricity and running water may not be consistently available at times, and in some cases internet access, besides internet on your mobile phone, may not be available within your host family’s home.

Cigarette-smoking indoors and outdoors is very common in Montenegro, similar to other Balkan and European countries. In addition to cigarette smoking, there can be heavy amounts of smoke from coal-burning and woodstoves for heating during the winter. The air quality may be further affected by the burning of trash.

As an agency, Peace Corps is committed to creating a supportive and inclusive environment for staff and Volunteers. Community members may have preconceived notions on how all Americans should look or behave, and may be unaware of the rich diversity in the U.S. In your community, you should anticipate attention and curiosity about visible and non-visible diversities. While this attention is not typically ill-intentioned, it can be challenging to navigate at times. Peace Corps has experience in working with diverse Volunteers in the Balkans, and the staff in Albania and Montenegro work with Volunteers to understand how this will affect you in Montenegro.

Volunteers are not permitted to take leave during Pre-Service Training, as well as during their first 3 months and last 3 months in their community.

Serving in Montenegro

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Montenegro by reviewing our information on Montenegro and Albania: Get details on culture, communications, housing, and safety — including crime statistics for Albania [PDF] (statistics for Montenegro not yet available) — in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Medical Considerations

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


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