Primary English Literacy Volunteer

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Project Description

The governments of Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia and St. Vincent & the Grenadines are eager to improve the English literacy teaching and learning capacity in their primary schools (a primary school is the equivalent of an elementary school in the United States). The Ministry of Education in each of these island nations have requested Peace Corps’ assistance to reach this goal. Peace Corps Eastern Caribbean comprises these four island nations and has moved to one project area – Primary English Literacy – in response to the request from these countries. It is important to note that Dominica’s development was considerably set back by the devastation of Hurricane Maria in 2017. The country’s recovery will impact which schools and communities are viable sites, the number of Volunteers we can assign to the island, and the standard of living a Volunteer can expect.

This assignment focuses on classroom support for primary school teachers and students in Grades 1-3 using the Eastern Caribbean's standard primary English curriculum and additional resources. Primary Literacy Volunteers begin their service at the start of the school year, working with local co-teachers to assess students’ reading proficiency. Volunteers then collaborate with their co-teachers to design curriculum and activities that will meet the identified needs of the students, and work with their co-teachers to implement the lessons in the classroom. Volunteers promote literacy instruction best-practices with their assigned co-teachers and throughout the school. Volunteers conduct monitoring and evaluation on a regular basis to determine the progress of their students and overall impact of the project.

In addition to classroom teaching, Primary Literacy Volunteers share resources, develop teaching materials with local teachers, and become involved in community and school-based projects. These include working with schools to develop and regularly use libraries, establishing after-school programs such as book clubs and readers’ theater, and engaging parents and other community members in English literacy through initiating family literacy activities and inviting parents to school-based events. Volunteers co-plan and co-facilitate these activities, engaging with parents and the community.

In addition to the primary literacy work, Volunteers will also be involved in substantial secondary youth development activities in their schools and communities. This may be anything from working with teachers and students exploring how to use technology effectively in the classroom, to starting or working with existing sports clubs, leadership camps, youth environment clubs, or computer clubs, and more. Primary Literacy Volunteers in the Eastern Caribbean are expected to be involved in these youth development activities during the school summer break, as well as throughout the year.

Training will be held in St. Lucia for 5.5 weeks. Volunteers start off as trainees and training. The specific island of service will be determined and conveyed during the 5th week of training. The remaining 3 weeks of training take place on the assigned island of service.

Required Skills

Qualified candidates will have a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline;

AND

3 months, 10 hours/month, or 30 hours of tutoring experience in literacy, English or foreign language with elementary school, middle school, high school students or adults.

Desired Skills

Respect for and acceptance of diversity & cultural differences amongst fellow Volunteers and Host Country Nationals
The ability to adapt to unfamiliar customs and norms to improve intercultural competence.
Commitment to working with primary (elementary school) students and teachers to improve literacy skills in the classroom
Experience engaging parents in their children’s’ education.
Experience with designing training curriculum, facilitating a workshop, classroom, or after-school program
Willingness to learn a Creole language

Required Language Skills

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

English is the official language in all of the Eastern Caribbean Countries. Volunteers will find that Caribbean English differs from American English. Volunteers will be required to learn the nuances between Caribbean English and American English. The mother tongue (or unofficial languages) of the Eastern Caribbean is Creole. Each country has a unique creole that Volunteers must learn in order to carry out the mission and goals of Peace Corps.

Volunteers are required to learn St Lucian Creole during training to model respect of the culture and integration into the training community. Volunteers must have the capacity to learn oral Creole languages. Once assigned to their island of service, Volunteers will receive specific language training to the Creole of that country over the course of eight weeks. After language training, Volunteers will be required to demonstrate motivation for self-directed language learning with a language tutor for the first six months of service.

Living Conditions

Volunteer sites are located on the islands of St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica, and Grenada. Volunteers must be prepared for extensive walking in areas of difficult terrain and steep hills, and carrying personal belongings, groceries, etc. on minibuses/vans that serve as the main mode of transportation. Weather in the Eastern Caribbean can be hot and humid. Trainees live with host families during training. Trainees will occupy a private room in a family home and most will share a bathroom, meals, and common spaces with their host family. After training is complete, Trainees are sworn-in as Volunteers. Most Volunteers live in basic apartments with minimal utilities provided. Mobile phone service is generally accessible throughout the islands, but full reception is not guaranteed in all areas. Internet is not guaranteed in the Volunteer’s home and internet speed may be similar to “dial-up”.

Peace Corps is committed to creating a supportive and inclusive environment for Volunteers of all backgrounds throughout service.

Diversity
Volunteers who are of an American racial, ethnic, or national minority may find they experience a high degree of curiosity or unwanted attention from host country nationals. Please be aware that American concepts of politeness and appropriate behavior are not universal. Ethnically, nationally, or racially diverse Americans may be asked where they are “actually from” or if they are “really” American. Many Volunteers have been able to turn these encounters into learning experiences deepen local community members’ understanding of Americans. African Americans may blend in with the local population, but may be confused with “returned residents” displaying different accents. Asian Volunteer may receive unwanted attention in the form of name calling, like “Chin Chang”.

Religion
Religion plays an integral role in shaping social practice in the Eastern Caribbean--for example reciting of prayers in schools and at official events--as well as laws relating to sexual orientation, gender identity, and sexual and reproductive health rights. A Volunteer may also experience proselytizing or general pressure to engage in religious discourse. Peace Corps Eastern Caribbean simply expects its Volunteers to respect our host country’s religious beliefs and practices.

Gender and Sexuality
Eastern Caribbean countries are generally tolerant and laws surrounding homosexuality are not enforced; nonetheless, homosexuality is not culturally accepted. Volunteers will need to be mindful of cultural norms and exercise discretion when it comes to revealing their sexual orientation and gender identity or becoming involved in romantic relationships in their host community. In addition, female Volunteers often experience unwanted attention, including cat-calling and inappropriate sexual comments.

Staff along with currently serving Volunteers will address these topics during training, and identify support mechanisms for incoming trainees.

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

Eastern Caribbean accepts couples who both qualify to serve as Primary English Literacy Volunteers.

During training and throughout Peace Corps service, couples will have similar living conditions as single Volunteers. Couples will live together with a host family during training. Couples are not assigned to work at the same school; one partner will travel by bus to another school / community for their service. We cannot guarantee a particular type of living arrangement, and expect all Volunteers to be flexible and adaptable.

Medical Considerations in Eastern Caribbean

  • Eastern Caribbean may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: 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 Eastern Caribbean, Peace Corps provides and applicants are required to have an annual flu shot and 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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