English Literacy Resource Volunteer (Primary Schools)

The Peace Corps continues to monitor and assess the COVID-19 pandemic domestically and internationally. The locations and timing of returning Volunteers to service will be determined on a country-by-country basis. The positions and projected departure dates listed below are subject to change.

Project Description

The poet laureate, Derrick Walcott said, "What makes our islands special are their complexity. Part of it is the diverse landscape -- the mountains, valleys, and culture of the sea. Part of it is in its bilingualism; people intertwine Creole with English in a magical, remarkable way. And then there are the customs and the African mythology that one finds here." Living and serving in the Eastern Caribbean, Peace Corps Volunteers gain rare insight and share in that complexity and beauty.

Dominica, Grenada, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent & the Grenadines have requested the support of Peace Corps to improve students’ literacy skills, focusing on Grades K-3. In particular, Peace Corps Volunteers have been invited to collaborate with school counterparts to improve students’ ability to read and write English. While English is widely spoken in the Eastern Caribbean, Creole is very often spoken in the home and community; in turn, young students learn “standard” English as a second language. Improving English skills strengthens these students' ability to learn and achieve in all subjects and, later, apply these skills to their professional pursuits.

As a literacy resource in the school, Volunteers coordinate with counterpart teachers and the school Principal to assess students’ literacy skills and to identify each student’s strengths and areas for improvement. With that information, the Volunteer and counterparts co-design and implement lessons and activities tailored for the students in one-on-one, small group work, team-teaching, or after-school activities.

At the same time, Volunteers collaborate with others to assess the school’s resources and, in consultation with the Principal and community leaders, identify other areas where they can work alongside school and community leaders to support locally-prioritized projects. Examples of these efforts include co-facilitating library initiatives and after-school activities, offering service-learning opportunities, developing instructional technology resources, or conducting community outreach.

After school programs include literacy-focused activities such as book clubs and readers’ theater, teacher-student workshops on technology in the classroom, student-managed library system support, or family literacy activities where parents join children for late afternoon or evening events. Engaging families, and the community, is of great benefit to the students and the school, and collaborative opportunities like these often emerge as Volunteers integrate into the school and community.

It is also encouraged that Volunteers work with counterparts to develop, support, and generate interest in a variety of clubs and camps that address topics such as sports, environment, computers, science, or leadership. The opportunities are as diverse as Eastern Caribbean communities, students, and Volunteers. These secondary projects are often where Volunteers’ passions lie and are as important as literacy instruction to the students and schools.

In addition to primary and secondary projects, Volunteers may be invited to participate in professional development activities such as school-based workshops, Peace Corps trainings, student/teacher observation, and feedback sessions at other schools.

Throughout service, Volunteers will partner with Peace Corps Eastern Caribbean staff to monitor and document progress and to collect data used to assess the impact of the Volunteer's service. This information is used to improve the project and strengthen the Peace Corps' partnerships and accountability to host communities.

To prepare for their service assignment, all Peace Corps Eastern Caribbean Trainees live in Saint Lucia for an initial seven weeks of Pre-Service Training. After this initial phase of training, Trainees travel to their assigned country of service where they train for another four weeks to develop skills and knowledge specific to their host island. Training topics include Ministry initiatives, language, and safety strategies. During these four weeks, Trainees also set up living essentials, including banking and utilities.

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

Qualified candidates will have a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline and a strong desire to teach English

And

• 3 months, 10 hours/month, or 30 hours of tutoring experience in literacy, English or TEFL with elementary, middle, or high school students

Desired Skills

The following qualifications will also make candidates more competitive:
• Commitment to working with elementary school students and their teachers to improve learning and literacy skills in classrooms and after-school programs
• Experience engaging parents in their children's education and/or experience developing partnerships in a community or organization
• Experience with a Learning Management System and/or online learning.
• Lesson planning and/or curriculum design experience; designing distance learning strategies is a plus
• Experience facilitating sessions or learning opportunities
• Leadership experience (e.g., co-facilitation, administrative support, visioning role) in establishing clubs or learning opportunities such as music, theater, academics, sports, and life-skills development
• Respect for and support of diversity and social equity among fellow Volunteers and Host Country Nationals
• Readiness to develop intercultural competencies

Required Language Skills

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

English is the official language in all Eastern Caribbean countries. Volunteers will find, however, that Caribbean English differs significantly from American English, and will have to learn the pronunciation and semantic differences between the two.

Creole has only recently been recognized as a language in the Eastern Caribbean. What was once viewed as a dialect, or a broken version of a “proper language”, is now valued as an important aspect of the nation’s heritage and culture. Each island has a unique Creole. Grenada and Saint Vincent & the Grenadines speak English-based Creoles, each with unique rhythm and idioms. Dominica and Saint Lucia share a French-based Creole, or Kwéyòl, in addition to an English-based Creole.

A person can communicate and operate in the Eastern Caribbean by speaking standard American and British English, but Volunteers will experience greater integration and acceptance when they speak the indigenous language. To speak Creole is more than just a sign of respect, and it is more than an ability to navigate the marketplace. To speak Creole is to support the preservation and elevation of a once undervalued culture. Moreover, Volunteers will be more effective teachers when they are able to communicate with Grade K-3 students in both their first language, Creole, and in English.

All Trainees learn Saint Lucian Kwéyòl in the first weeks of Pre-Service Training to better integrate with the community. Once assigned to an island of service, Trainees receive language training specific to that country. There are also self-directed, online learning modules available to Trainees. After swear-in, all Volunteers are asked to develop a language learning strategy for the first six months of service.

Living Conditions

The islands of the Eastern Caribbean have lush forests and dramatic terrains surrounded by a turquoise sea. The islands are hot and humid with bugs and lizards, steep climbs to reach home and work, and narrow roads. The economic status of the communities where Volunteers are invited to live and work can contrast with the economic status of visitors who come to the islands for tourism reasons. These contrasts can be stressful.

The Peace Corps Eastern Caribbean requires Volunteers to have a commitment to education and social equity while in the intercultural context of Peace Corps service. The people of the Caribbean are warm and thoughtful, but it may take time for Volunteers to integrate and build trust among their host communities.

Trainees live with host families during Pre-Service Training. Host families are diverse—large and small, older and younger, religious and not. For this training period, Trainees have private bedrooms, most share a bathroom, and, of course, Trainees share common space and meals with the host family. Hot water is rare. There may be a fan.

After training, most Volunteers live in small apartments supplied with essential appliances, furniture, and kitchen utensils.

Mobile phone service is generally accessible on the islands, but reception is not reliable. Electricity is available, though storms frequently interrupt service. Internet is not guaranteed and speeds may be comparable to “dial-up” Internet.

Travel between islands is by air and expensive. In contrast, travel on the islands is by minibus and priced for the average worker.

Diversity
Peace Corps is committed to creating a supportive, inclusive environment for Volunteers of all backgrounds. The Peace Corps Eastern Caribbean's Intercultural, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee, made up of Volunteers and staff, was created to train, guide, and support Volunteers as they navigate the Eastern Caribbean culture.

Volunteers may find they experience a high degree of curiosity or unwanted attention. Black Americans or African Americans may blend in or may be confused with “returned residents”. They may experience higher expectations from their communities than other Volunteers who are not confused to be Eastern Caribbean. White and Asian Americans may be taken for rich tourists.

American concepts of personal space, politeness, and appropriate behavior are not universal. Many Volunteers have been able to turn these encounters into learning experiences that deepen local community members’ understanding of Americans, while also deepening the Volunteers' understanding of their own identity.

Religion
Christian religion plays a prominent role in the Eastern Caribbean. Prayers are offered daily in school assemblies and at official events. Laws related to sexual orientation, gender identity, and sexual and reproductive health rights are influenced by conservative perspectives of the church. A Volunteer may experience pressure to engage in religious discourse. Peace Corps Eastern Caribbean expects Volunteers to respect the host country’s religious beliefs and practices.

Gender and Sexuality
Eastern Caribbean countries are generally open and welcoming and laws addressing homosexuality are typically not enforced. However, homosexuality is not culturally accepted and anti-sodomy laws are in place. Gay, lesbian, and non-binary Volunteers must exercise discretion when it comes to revealing their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Women often experience unwanted attention, including cat-calling and sexual comments that one might find unsettling or insulting.

The safety of Trainees and Volunteers is important to Peace Corps Eastern Caribbean staff. In Pre-Service Training, staff explore strategies with Trainees on how to live safely and identify support mechanisms throughout service. Host families also offer invaluable insight into how to manage unwanted attention.

Serving in Eastern Caribbean

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Eastern Caribbean: 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

Couples will serve as English Literacy Resource Volunteers, but will not work in the same school.
Partners must apply and qualify to serve as a
English Literacy Resource Volunteer (Primary Schools).
During Pre-Service Training and the two years of Peace Corps service, the living conditions of couples will be similar to those of single Volunteers. Couples will live together with their host family during Pre-Service Training. During service, because couples do not work at the same school, one partner may have to travel by bus to a nearby school to teach. Both partners' schools are generally located within 30 minutes of the Volunteers' home community.

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 couples 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/.”

Medical Considerations

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


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