Youth Development Facilitator

Project Description

As part of the first group of Youth Development Facilitators in Panama, Volunteers will contribute to national priorities and work towards the following project goal: Panamanian youth are equipped with the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to successfully navigate life challenges, make positive contributions in their communities, and pursue employment opportunities. The Youth Leadership Development (YLD) project works in collaboration with community members to reach youth ages 12 to 19 by co-facilitating the development of life skills, employability skills, and community engagement.
YLD Volunteers enhance existing school or community-based programs by strengthening local efforts to support youth development activities. YLD Volunteers work at secondary schools (U.S. equivalent of 7th – 12th grades) with school counselors, social workers, teachers, health promoters, and community members to co-plan and co-facilitate life, vocational, and community engagement skills activities like in-school workshops, camps, clubs, courses, service learning projects and awareness days. Volunteers will be seen as role models and will have the opportunity to coach/mentor youth to develop personally and professionally. They will also support youth service providers in facilitating positive youth development activities. They will be responsible for organizing their calendars based on input from school staff and community members and effectively communicating their responsibilities to various stakeholders.

An important component of the job will be promoting equal access and inclusion through considering the dynamics of gender and culture. Youth Development Facilitators work with community members to co-facilitate and mentor youth on the following: positive self-concept, communication, conflict resolution, goal setting, leadership, employability skills, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for employment, gender equity and inclusion, etc.

Training and coaching may be one-on-one, in classrooms or afterschool programs, during club meetings, or other forums. Below are activities that may be identified by the school and/or community as part of a Volunteer’s role:
• Co-plan and co-facilitate youth clubs that incorporate life skills development
• Co-plan and co-facilitate youth camps on life skills development that are linked to youth clubs
• Promote leadership and life skills among youth through co-planning and co-facilitating extra-curricular activities like organized sports groups, performing arts events and other clubs/classes/events
• Co-teach life skills development curricula in school-based program
• Co-plan and co-facilitate youth participation in activities or events related to awareness days (e.g., World AIDS Day, International Youth Day, International Day of Persons with Disabilities)
• Co-plan and co-facilitate youth participation in a service-learning project as part of a school activity, club, or youth program
• Co-teach youth in vocational and employability skills in an educational or instructional setting, developing professional skills like résumé writing, interview skills, and ICT for employment workshops
• Mentor/coach youth on life skills and/or employability skills

Volunteers work with service providers to promote a supportive environment for youth by implementing or strengthening positive development programs.
Sample activities include:
• Sharing information with youth service providers to promote positive youth development programs
• Co-plan and co-facilitate positive youth development programs
• Provide and receive feedback regarding positive youth development programs
• Working with adults to enhance opportunities available for youth development programs

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
• 5 years of professional experience as a youth mentor, coordinating/leading youth programs, etc.

Desired Skills

Competitive candidates will meet one or more of the following criteria:

• Experience with public speaking, or facilitating classes/workshops/presentations or performing arts, both in person and virtually
• Experience working with children/youth in formal/non-formal educational settings (camps, clubs, extra-curricular activities, etc.)
• Experience teaching, coaching, or mentoring adults and youth in formal and informal settings
• Experience leading/participating in volunteer work or service learning projects with youth (high school or university level service learning programs, volunteer project design and implementation, mentoring projects, etc.)
• Academic background and/or professional experience in psychology, health, sociology, education, social work, or counseling
• Previous experience working with Spanish-speaking populations

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-mid level of oral and written proficiency in Spanish for community placement by the end of Pre-Service Training.

Intermediate-mid level speakers are expected to be able to: create with language; start, sustain and close simple conversations at the sentence level and connect them. Ask questions and answer simple questions.

Living Conditions

YLD Volunteers are placed in urban, semi-urban, and rural Spanish-speaking communities. Volunteers typically live in a common Panamanian-style home made of simple concrete block and cement floors. Other housing possibilities include stilted wood houses, adobe structures with mud floors, and furnished apartments. Most communities for YLD Volunteers have regular to semi-regular electricity, cell phone signal, and potable water. Some communities may not have electricity but solar panels can be purchased in Panama or a community member/the local store may offer charging at a price.
Peace Corps/Panama examines each community before selection to ensure that basic health and safety criteria are met. Volunteers will be required to live with a host family during their first three months of service who have been approved following COVID guidelines. After these three months, they may opt to live in pre-approved local housing that meets Peace Corps/Panama’s housing criteria.

Food and Diet:
The Panamanian diet varies according to the region and the ethnic makeup of the population. Most often the diet consists of rice, beans, bananas or plantains, yucca (cassava), and corn. Rice and beans (kidney beans, lentils, and black-eyed peas) is a staple dish. Corn is served in many guises but is usually ground, boiled, or fried. Sancocho is a traditional soup prepared with root vegetables and chicken. Most rural areas have an array of fruits available; including mangos, papayas, pineapples, avocados, oranges, and guanábanas (soursops). The availability of garden vegetables, such as tomatoes, sweet peppers, and cucumbers, varies according to the region and the season. The most common meats are chicken, pork, and beef, which are often deep-fried or stewed. Fish is available sporadically in coastal regions and riverside communities. Larger towns and cities have at least one chain restaurant that will be familiar, such as McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut, Subway, or Dairy Queen.
Some Volunteers are vegetarians, but few Panamanians follow these diets. Many Volunteers start a garden in their community, and sometimes buy food in Panama City or a provincial capital. Most have supermarkets where you can buy a wide variety of foods and imported goods.

Computer, Phone and Internet Access:
Internet access in Panama is spreading. All provincial capitals and other large towns have internet cafes. Connection speeds tend to be slow, but the service is reasonably priced and otherwise reliable. Internet access for Volunteers is available at the Peace Corps/Panama office and potentially at the school. Peace Corps Panama does not provide Volunteers with a cell phone or data but Panama offers many cheap data plans. Many Volunteers bring an unlocked cell phone from the United States or buy one in country. Should you choose to bring electronics, it is your responsibility to maintain and insure them.

Serving in Panama

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Panama: 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.

Medical Considerations

Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.

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