Youth and Families Development Promoter

Project Description

Ecuador is a country synonymous with diversity. Although geographically small, Ecuador’s four regions are home to some of Earth’s greatest biodiversity. Ecuadoreans match this distinctive diversity in their local cultures and values like friendliness and hospitality are found throughout the country. Peace Corps Volunteers in Ecuador collaborate with Ecuadoreans to understand and support local priorities. Along with specific programmatic work, throughout their service, Volunteers also engage in intercultural exchange with their host communities, learning and sharing invaluable skills and new insights while working alongside Ecuadoreans in this rich geographic and cultural tapestry.

The goal of the Peace Corps Ecuador Youth and Families Development Project is to support youth to become healthy, productive, civically engaged adults with the support of their families. Volunteers work hand-in-hand with community counterparts to implement positive youth development and community programs with at-risk youth between the ages 10-25 and their communities. Co-designed projects focus on topics such as: life-skills development, leadership activities, developing self-esteem, substance abuse prevention, service learning, vocational training, income generation, HIV/AIDS awareness, parenting skills development, community mobilization, organizational development, and stay-in-school programs.

The Youth and Families Development project has 4 objectives:
1. Increase the knowledge and skills of youth to improve their life skills and well-being;
2. Expand opportunities for youth community engagement;
3. Increase youth employability skills; and
4. Strengthen the skills of parents/caregivers to support positive youth development.

Volunteer and counterpart activities under these objectives could include the following:
• Co-facilitating trainings for youth in life skills, such as self-esteem, goal-setting and values, decision making, communication, leadership, alcohol and substance abuse prevention, gender equality, and sexual education and HIV/AIDS prevention;
• Co-leading and supporting youth in clubs, camps, sports, art, recreation and physical activity as an alternative outlet where youth can exercise positive behaviors;
• Co-designing and facilitating a Training of Trainers (agency staff, community members, teachers, youth leaders, social workers, etc.) workshop, on using positive youth development approaches, facilitation skills, volunteerism, service-learning, advocacy, community assessment, and project design and management;
• Coordinating to improve organizational capabilities, helping to initiate and organize community development activities;
• Supporting youth in the attainment of employability and vocational skills;
• Tutoring youth in after-school and literacy programs that help them to improve reading and comprehension skills; and
• Training families and community members on parenting skills, and positive youth development.

As a Peace Corps Volunteer, you will participate in the Peace Corps monitoring, reporting, and evaluation (MRE) process. All Volunteers receive MRE training and submit regular reports. The MRE system helps Peace Corps monitor its progress, report its accomplishments, and evaluate and improve its impact. The opportunity to learn and practice professional MRE skills is among the many valued and tangible benefits of Peace Corps service.

In addition, Volunteers participate in the Peace Corps' monitoring, reporting, and evaluation activities. All Volunteers receive training related to these efforts and submit regular reports. Combined, these monitoring, reporting, and evaluation efforts help Peace Corps Ecuador monitor the collaborative work of Volunteers and their host communities, report accomplishments, and evaluate and improve results. The opportunity to learn and practice professional monitoring and evaluation skills are among the many valued and tangible benefits of Peace Corps service.

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 an expressed interest in working with Youth in Development 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

• Master’s degree in Social Work, Psychology, Education, Youth Development, Applied Behavioral Science or related field.
• Bachelor’s degree in Social Work, Social Studies, Psychology, Education, Youth Development, Applied Behavioral Science or other related field and at least 3 months of experience working with youth and/or families.
• 3 years of professional experience working with youth and/or families from underserved communities.
The most important element of being a successful Youth and Families Development Volunteer is an open, positive, and respectful attitude, along with a willingness to learn and adapt.

Ecuador strongly prefers applicants who have experience volunteering or working with at-risk youth and their parents and promoting life skills, vocational skills, substance abuse prevention, youth leadership and development, gender empowerment, literacy, parenting skills, HIV/AIDS prevention and sex education, small business development, and financial literacy using non-formal and experiential education methodologies.

Additional desired skills include facilitation, organizational, assessment, and leadership 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 work in the Spanish language, and Spanish is necessary for day-to-day activities and interactions in the community. To successfully swear in as a Volunteer, Trainees must demonstrate an intermediate level of oral proficiency in Spanish at the end of the 10-week Pre-Service Training. Peace Corps Trainees receive a significant amount of training and support to assist in their acquisition of Spanish. Trainees who arrive for training with low levels of Spanish find reaching an intermediate level of oral proficiency more challenging than those who arrive in-country with higher Spanish proficiency levels. Therefore, Peace Corps Ecuador encourages applicants to work on their Spanish prior to departing the United States for Ecuador.

Living Conditions

During the 10-week Pre-Service Training period, Trainees live with an Ecuadorian host family. After swearing-in, Volunteers are also required to live with a host family in their host community for at least their first four months of service. Host families are chosen with the help of host country co-workers prior to the arrival of the Volunteer to the community.

In Ecuador, living with your family is the norm for most adults, including college-educated, professionals.
Generally, adult children live with their parents until they marry and start a family of their own. Living with a host family increases a Volunteer's safety, acceptance, credibility, integration, and language acquisition while serving in Ecuador.

Youth and Families Development Promoters work sites are community- and institution-based. These Volunteers serve throughout the country at sites aligned with their skillsets and the expressed needs of the communities that will host the Volunteers. Therefore, Volunteers are assigned to communities with a wide variety of geographical and climatic settings. Volunteers may be assigned to a community in the Andean highlands, Amazon region, or the coastal lowlands. Most work sites are in marginal, urban neighborhoods, meaning somewhat rural neighborhoods on the outskirts of larger metropolitan areas. Other sites are in smaller communities or in rural communities.

Volunteers working in larger cities do not live in the communities where they work, but rather commute to and from their respective workplaces every day. These Volunteers may need to invest intentional efforts toward developing a strong sense of community both where they work and where they live. On the other hand, some Volunteers report that they enjoy the sense of independence and anonymity that comes from living in a larger city. That being said, each job location will have unique opportunities and challenges. It is the responsibility of each Volunteer to adapt to the circumstances and work with the host community to make Peace Corps service a positive experience for all involved.

While Ecuadoreans are generally tolerant, and the Peace Corps/Ecuador office is an open, non-judgmental place for all Volunteers, values and mores concerning diversity (race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, etc.) may be different from those in the United States. Volunteers will need to be mindful of cultural norms and use their judgment to determine the best way to approach diversity issues in their communities and host countries.

Volunteers who are of an American racial, ethnic, or national minority or whose religious or spiritual beliefs differ from the majority of their country of service may find they experience curiosity or unwanted attention from host country nationals. 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, share American values, and deepen local community members’ understanding of Americans. Peace Corps Ecuador has support groups in place for diverse Volunteers and seeks to support Volunteers of all backgrounds.

Finally, Volunteers have found it helpful to bring a laptop or tablet to Ecuador. Internet access continues to expand in Ecuador, and having a personal computing device often makes it easier for Volunteers to access and share technical resources in support of their service. There will also be assignments during Pre-Service Training where having a personal computing device will be helpful for Trainees. However, bringing a device is not a requirement for this program. Volunteers may also complete assignments and access resources through small computer labs at the Peace Corps Ecuador Training Center, the Peace Corps Ecuador office, local internet cafes, and other access points.

Serving in Ecuador

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Ecuador: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, health, and safety -- including health and crime statistics -- in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Couples Information

Peace Corps Ecuador welcomes cross-sector couples to apply. This means the partner of an applicant to this program should apply and must qualify for:
Health and Wellness Promoter.

Generally speaking, Volunteer couples should expect living conditions to be the same for them as for single Volunteers. Every effort will be made for couples to live together with a single host family during Pre-Service Training, but there is always a chance that they may have to live apart during Pre-Service Training due to space or other limitations.

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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