Health Education Volunteer

Before You Apply

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Project Description

As a Health Education Volunteer you will be assigned to a school (elementary, middle, or high school) to teach and co-teach life skills and sexual health education. You will work closely with teachers to develop four types of curricula: biology, physical education, science/natural science, and elementary education. You will also collaborate with teachers during primary classes, free/project classes, or community events where the school is used as a community center.

The Health Education program has two primary objectives:
1. Support youth to adopt behaviors and practices that contribute to improved sexual and reproductive health.
2. Educate youth to develop the life skills necessary to make responsible and healthy decisions and take actions that positively impact their lives and the lives of those around them.

To achieve these objectives, you will collaborate with students and teachers in several schools within a region to organize community projects, clubs, and camps addressing life skills and sexual health education topics.
Co-teaching and training teachers comprise a significant part of Peace Corps Albania’s Health Education project. You will work alongside an Albanian teacher in classrooms as well as help train teachers regarding youth sexual and reproductive health. Some Volunteers may also liaise with a health education unit or provide staff trainings at community health centers, which have a long history of being under-resourced.

In the summer, you are expected to lead camps and other youth development activities in partnership with schools or non-governmental organizations (NGOs), or facilitate youth-centered projects such as Model United Nations, Girl Scouts, Outdoor Ambassadors (an environmental-themed afterschool program begun by Volunteers), and Girls Leading Our World (GLOW) camps, etc.

Throughout the year, you can teach life-skills and co-facilitate sessions with local counterparts using manuals that are in both English and Albanian. You may also tutor students in various school subjects (including English language), help develop student government in the school, and/or liaise with community members and students to foster youth employability skills. Many Volunteers have found success in collaborating across sectors throughout the summer with Volunteers who live in nearby communities; however, this may not be possible for all Volunteers depending on the geographic location.

Outside the classroom, you may have the opportunity to work closely with health education professionals at health centers or NGOs, or with other health professionals. You may introduce new teaching methods and techniques regarding preventive health education in schools and kindergartens. You may also partner with NGOs and other community-based organizations to provide basic health education, and raise awareness of safe and healthy sexual and reproductive health practices, HIV/AIDS prevention, and other emerging health issues.

You will likely have more than one primary colleague or counterpart, depending on the projects or activities you are involved in. Locating motivated community members to help with these diverse projects will demand a concerted effort on your part. For this reason, it is important that you develop strong relationships in your community and commit yourself to improving your language skills, as well as bring a high level of self-initiative, determination, and a positive attitude.

Volunteers are placed in communities throughout Albania, excluding the capital city of Tirana. The vast majority of Volunteers will live in rural areas, however, in some rare cases Volunteers may be placed in a few of the larger towns where foreign language schools are located.

Required Skills

Qualified candidates will have a strong desire to work as a health education teacher and:

• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline
• 5 years’ professional work experience

Desired Skills

Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following:

• Bachelor of Arts/Science Degree in Education, Nutrition, Health, Public Health, or Nursing
• Teaching, co-teaching, or tutoring primary, middle, high school students, or adults
• Developing and implementing clubs and camps for children, students, or young adults
• Ability to network and develop partnerships in small communities

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 (Shqip) is a challenging language. 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.

You will speak in Albanian for the majority of your service. PST will give you the basis for continuing to develop your language skills during service. Diligent commitment to learning Albanian during PST and throughout your service will help you acquire language skills that will be critical to developing relationships within your communities and the success of your projects.

Following PST, all Volunteers are required to retain a tutor for the initial six-months of service.

Living Conditions

You will live with a host family during Pre-Service Training and for the first six months after training at your permanent community. After that period, you may choose to live with a different host family or may live independently in housing identified by you or your school. In some small towns, it is not possible for Volunteers to move from their host family due to the limited availability of housing options. Peace Corps works with your host agency to ensure that all housing meets Peace Corps’ safety and security criteria.

Housing options in Albania are generally small in scale. You should anticipate living in less space, in closer proximity to others, with far fewer amenities, and less privacy than you are used to. In rural parts of Albania, housing is often scarce and in many communities, it is unusual for anyone, man or woman, to live alone – or to walk alone in the street. Most communities in Albania are conservative and close-knit. Many Volunteers choose to live with a family after the introductory 6-month home stay for many reasons, including convenience, social integration, personal security, or a lack of other housing options.

Most Albanian villages and towns have electricity and running water, but power and water outages are frequent. Houses are not centrally heated and most Albanian families heat only one room with a gas, wood, or an electric heater. Peace Corps will provide you a small space heater for your bedroom, but many Volunteers still spend most of the evening with host family members in the one heated room. Toilets are often squat-style. Volunteers should be prepared to adjust in all ways to living with an Albanian family. It is common, especially in the winter, for families to smoke indoors and spend time as a family in only one room to conserve heat.

Outside temperatures range from 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer to below freezing during the winter, depending on your location. Volunteers should be prepared for a wide spectrum of climates throughout their service.

You will need to modify your standard of living while serving in Albania. This may be more difficult than it seems. Volunteers also often face challenges around the expectations of community members who perceive Americans as wealthy. These expectations are sometimes reinforced by the smart phones, tablets, expensive-looking cameras and AirPods that Volunteers use during service. As a Volunteer you will need to become careful in how you carry yourself and how you use electronics that are not widely accessible to Albanians.

During your service, you will spend most of your time in your community but may travel periodically to the closest larger town to access supplies and services (including an ATM). You should be prepared to walk long distances (several miles) regularly, often on uneven ground. Additionally, you should expect to carry your own luggage. Peace Corps will provide you with several items related to health and safety (water filter, smoke alarm, fire extinguisher, and other items); you should expect to be responsible for transporting these items as well.

Volunteers are not permitted to take leave during Pre-Service Training, during their first three-months at site, or during their last three-months at site.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Albania: 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

Peace Corps in Albania welcomes couples serving together during service. For any couples to be considered, your partner must qualify and be invited to serve as a:

- Organizational Development Volunteer

Albania cannot accept Health and English Education Volunteer couples, nor couples serving in the same sector.

Couples will likely be placed in different host families during Pre-Service Training (PST), which will allow them to study language independently, train with peers from their own programmatic sector, and grow and develop individually before joining their partner once training is complete.

Following PST, couples will be placed in the same host family.

Medical Considerations

Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the clearance process and other health conditions that are difficult to accommodate in Peace Corps service.

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