Rural Agricultural Development Facilitator

Before You Apply

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Project Description

Guatemala faces high rates of food insecurity that disproportionally affect vulnerable populations living in rural areas. The government of Guatemala is working to meet the challenges of food insecurity by strengthening its national agriculture extension system, which is a system focused on rural development initiatives. Local specialists working within this system have expertise in the areas of agriculture, animal husbandry, home health and economics. While these specialists have strong technical expertise for their position, they often lack formal training on the teaching and group development methodologies necessary to effectively empower communities. Additionally, community promoters, who hold an important role in sharing new knowledge with fellow farmers, do not always understand their role and lack the skills necessary to provide the support and leadership required of them. Therefore, Volunteers do not need to be subject-matter experts themselves. Rather, Volunteers support the work of the specialists and community promotors by providing training, support and mentorship that will help them transfer their knowledge more effectively.

This program is in the beginning stage of the implementation of a new project framework. As part of the first groups of Volunteers, your task is to work towards the project goal: Increase food security among rural households in Guatemala through strengthening the delivery of national rural extension services. Volunteers will accomplish this goal by providing one-on-one and group training to specialists working within the national extension system as well as to community promoters. Training topics range from facilitation techniques and adult experiential learning methods to leadership and organizational skills. Volunteers will use their own facilitation skills to teach the process of participatory community development as well as techniques. In addition to providing trainings, Volunteers will conduct needs assessments, identify gaps in available resources, and develop new materials to support the work of rural development initiatives. Volunteers are expected to play a facilitator role to minimize community dependency on their skills and to improve the sustainability of the project within the national extension system and the greater community.

Required Skills

Qualified candidates will have an expressed interest in working in agriculture and one or more of the following criteria:

• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any field
OR
• 5 years' professional work experience

Desired Skills

competitive candidates will have one or more of the following:

• Experience in agriculture or animal husbandry.
• Experience in home health in rural communities.
• Involvement in rural community planning, organizing, mentoring, or leadership processes within the past four years.
• Experience working in an adult-centered teaching environment.
• Business or organizational management or development experience.
• Willingness to work in unstructured settings.
• 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’ success in this project directly relates to their ability to express themselves in Spanish since Volunteers will be coordinating work with Guatemalan professionals. Therefore, Volunteers must demonstrate an Intermediate level of oral and written proficiency in Spanish for site placement by the end of Pre-Service Training (PST). Spanish self-study before arriving in Guatemala is highly encouraged.

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 communities of Guatemala often characterized by its beautiful mountainous terrain, warm day-time temperatures and cool, brisk nights due to the high altitudes. While most communities have access to electricity and running water, it is not uncommon for scheduled and unscheduled maintenance to limit the hours of availability of either. Fruits, vegetables, and meats are available either in site or in nearby communities. Local cell phones are required for all Volunteers. The phone plan Peace Corps provides includes credit for some local calls and limited internet. Most Volunteers have access to internet in their communities either in a local Internet café or through the purchase of additional internet data.

All volunteers are required to live with a host family during the 10 week Pre-Service Training (PST) and during the duration of their 2 year service. Host families are considered to be key actors in the integration as well as the safety and security of Volunteers. Host families in Guatemala vary, with some Volunteers living with large extended families while others with smaller ones. 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 the community are much more clearly defined than in the U.S. Volunteers are not asked to conform directly to the social/cultural norms, however it is expected that they be aware, tolerant and respectful of the practices, customs and way of life, and they may need to adapt certain behaviors to demonstrate that respect.

Security:
The security environment in Guatemala requires Volunteers to follow specific 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 responsible 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 to continue service in Guatemala. Several parts of the country are off limits to Volunteers because of high rates of violence or drug trafficking.

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 Agriculture sector or one person can serve in the Agriculture sector and the other in the Health sector. Therefore, your partner must apply and qualify for one of the following positions:
Rural Agricultural Development Facilitator
Maternal and Child Health Promoter

Couples will not live together during the ten weeks of Pre-Service Training (PST). Guatemala’s community-based training model places trainees in communities based on their technical program and Spanish level. Special considerations are given to couples so that they live in nearby communities and they will have more flexibility to see each other (e.g., on weekends). Language acquisition and cultural integration increase when each member of the couple lives with a separate host family. Couples will live together for the duration of their service.

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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