Healthy Schools Coordinator

Before You Apply

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Project Description

Guatemala faces high rates of child poverty and malnutrition and many students do not go on to attend middle or high school. Volunteers provide critical support in rural elementary schools to ensure that children attain the skills and habits necessary for their success in their school and communities. Healthy Schools Coordinators train educators on health topics and participatory teaching methods. Rather than teaching students directly, Volunteers use a “train the trainer” model to ensure that local schools have the necessary tools to pass along healthy habits to future generations that will contribute to a healthier Guatemala.

Volunteers work with multiple elementary schools within a designated school district. They collaborate with district superintendents, teachers, and health educators to assess the resources and needs of each school and to prioritize relevant health-related topics. With the support of Healthy Schools Coordinators, schools have chosen to focus their efforts on topics ranging from handwashing and tooth brushing to gender equity and violence prevention. In addition, Volunteers will use their community organizing and networking skills to engage parents and other community members. A large part of the role is working directly with community based organizations in and out of school settings. Volunteers support the development of Healthy Schools committees, parent organizations, and student health promoter groups. Volunteers are expected to play a facilitator role to minimize community dependency on their skills and to improve the sustainability of the project in the schools and community.

Required Skills

Qualified candidates will have an expressed interest in working in the health sector and one or more of the following criteria:
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any field
• 5 years' professional work experience

Desired Skills

Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:
• Ability to form, motivate, and facilitate groups of adults.
• Experience and/or interest in health education or outreach.
• Community involvement in planning, organizing, counseling, or leadership within the past four years.
• Experience teaching or providing trainings to adults.
• Enjoy working in a child-centered environment and have a positive attitude.
• Self-starter, open-minded, friendly, and persistent in the face of challenges.
• Strong communication and interpersonal skills.

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 level of oral and written proficiency in Spanish for site placement by the end of Pre-Service Training (PST). Most Volunteers will work directly in Spanish and some may work in Spanish with a Mayan language interpreter. Volunteers serving in areas where Mayan languages are spoken will study the local language once they arrive in their community to assist with integration into the community and basic communication.

Living Conditions

Most Volunteers live in medium-sized to larger rural communities (3,000 - 40,000 people). Volunteers are placed in the Western Highlands of Guatemala which is quite mountainous and due to the altitudes, it can be cool to cold at night. The majority of communities do have electricity and almost all have running water, but that does not guarantee a steady, continuous supply of either. Fruits, vegetables, and meats are available either in site or in nearby communities. Local cell phones are required for all Volunteers and will be provided by Peace Corps. Most Volunteers have access to internet in their communities either in a local internet café or by purchasing a small modem that can provide basic internet service.

Volunteers are required to live with a host family during the 10-week Pre-Service Training (PST) and during the 2 years of service to increase integration and for continuous orientation to the local safety and security concerns. It is important that applicants be not only willing but eager to interact and live with a Guatemalan host family. Most Volunteers cook for themselves during service, but some may opt to eat with their host family or in small restaurants.

Guatemala is a very traditional and religious society. People’s roles in regards to gender, work, and society are much more clearly defined than in the U.S. Volunteers must be aware, tolerant, and respectful of their practices, customs, and way of life.

Security Policies:

The security environment in Guatemala requires Volunteers to follow policies in order to mitigate potential safety and security risks, such as those related to transportation and travel. As a result, Peace Corps Guatemala has implemented a comprehensive and strict transportation and travel policy for Trainees and Volunteers. We are looking for mature applicants that are willing to comply with this policy, which includes utilizing identified transportation methods, restricted travel zones, day-light travel only, and using appropriate overnight accommodation. All communities are accessible by public transportation and/or use of the Peace Corps Guatemala shuttle system. Volunteers on official travel or personal leave MUST adhere to these transportation and travel policies.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Guatemala: 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

In Guatemala, couples can serve together in the same sector or in different sectors. Therefore, your partner must apply and qualify for one of the following positions:

Healthy Schools Coordinator
Youth in Development Facilitator

During Pre-Service Training (PST), couples will be placed in separate communities and can visit one another on weekends. Each partner will live with a host family. Once in their permanent community, couples will live together with a host family for the duration of service. This could be a private room in a family home or a separate unit within a family residential compound. Couples will be separated for workshops and conferences for up to two weeks at a time due to in-service training events.

Medical Considerations in Guatemala

  • Guatemala may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: asthma, including mild or childhood; insulin-dependent diabetes; ongoing counseling.
  • The following medication(s) are not permitted for legal or cultural reasons: none identified.
  • Volunteers who should avoid the following food(s) may not be able to serve: none identified.
  • After arrival in Guatemala, Peace Corps provides and applicants are required to have an annual flu shot,  to take daily or weekly medication to prevent malaria, and to receive mandatory immunizations.

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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