Youth Development Promoter
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact Peace Corps domestically and internationally.
The information provided for each assignment is subject to change, including the tentative departure date.
Youth in Development (YD) Volunteers (PCVs) work with youth ages 10- 19, especially those in second (ages 10-13) and third cycle (ages 13-16) of the Costa Rican Education system. PCVs support and work alongside youth service providers, parents, youth leaders and other community leaders in developing skills and opportunities for positive youth development.
Volunteers work towards the following project goal:
Youth are equipped to be healthy, productive and active citizens.
PCVs will work on specific program activities, collaborating with partners in three project objectives:
a) Strengthen youth wellbeing: PCVs work to help strengthen critical life skills, gender equality and healthy spaces for youth wellbeing. Along with and in support of partners, PCVs carry out activities such as: teaching life skills and gender curricula, facilitating workshops, designing and implementing clubs and camps, and facilitating sports, physical activity, arts or recreation activities in the school or community.
b) Strengthen opportunities for youth community engagement: PCVs work to promote active youth participation in community life by engaging them as leaders and participants of volunteering, service learning and awareness activities. Along with and in support of partners, PCVs carry out activities such as: designing and supporting youth volunteer opportunities in schools and community, facilitating service learning activities, and engaging youth in awareness days.
c) Strengthen youth support systems: PCVs work to promote a supportive environment for youth. They support teachers, professionals, and community leaders in facilitating and carrying out activities that promote active youth participation and wellbeing. Lastly, PCVs co-facilitate activities that promote positive interactions and communication between parents/caregivers and youth.
All assignments have a strong focus on preventative activities, empowering youth through education, community based activities and furthering children’s rights by collaborating with local partners.
Most PCVs will work with children, youth, parents, service providers (teachers, guidance counselors, youth and community leaders, and other professionals), and organizations (schools, community groups, youth groups, and/or other organizations or NGOs).
PCVs are assigned to work in communities identified in collaboration with our host country agencies (the Ministry of Public Education and other government institutions) who request to receive a Youth Development Volunteer. Underdeveloped and under-served communities, and communities with at-risk populations are prioritized. Each Volunteer typically works in two public schools, or a school and another organization serving youth.
All YD PCVs will perform a participatory community diagnosis to assess community resources and needs during the first months of service. Based on that analysis and partner’s requests, each PCV in collaboration with local professionals and community leaders will create a work plan for service. YD PCVs typically support ongoing youth-oriented programs in schools and the community, bringing new ideas, approaches and/or techniques to those spaces. PCVs also lead the creation of new youth-oriented prevention programs coordinating with and including partners to ensure relevance and sustainability. PCVs must be prepared to be proactive, self-driven and to motivate others about the importance of working with and towards youth development.
PCVs continuously monitor and evaluate the activities in their work plan, and every six months, submit work reports to the YD program and to their community partners on their progress and results. PCVs are expected to work full time to address community’s and partners’ needs. Weekly schedules will vary and might include working weekends. PCVs are responsible for coordinating a work schedule with their assigned institutions, according to the projects identified in the Work Plan.
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.
Qualified candidates will have an interest in working with youth and one or more of the following criteria:
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any field
• 5 years' professional work experience
The most important element to become a successful Youth in Development Volunteer is coming with a strong spirit of service to others, and willingness to learn and integrate into a new context. Youth in Development Volunteers should be proactive professionals, who are capable of working as part of a team, motivating others and bringing people together around a common goal.
Competitive candidates will have will have:
• 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, preferably from under-resourced communities
• Academic background and/or professional experience in Social Work/Psychology/Health/Education/Youth Development and, at least one year of experience working with youth in two or more of the following areas:
• Designing and/or facilitating workshops on gender equity, diversity, inclusion or life skills development, such as self-esteem, communication skills, emotional health, and critical thinking.
• Collaborating with teachers, social workers, youth leaders or guidance counselors on designing, planning and implementing positive youth development activities
• Working in a school setting on activities such as teaching an academic curriculum, teaching through experiential education, after-school or tutoring program management, etc.
• Experience with parent/caregiver support or education programs.
• Community organizing with a focus on youth development, such as managing a youth group, using community assessment tools, leading committees/community projects, networking, etc.
• Engaging in and/or facilitating arts, sports, physical activities or recreation for youth.
• Facilitating volunteerism and service learning for youth, such as high school or university level service learning programs, volunteer project design or implementation, mentoring projects, etc.
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).
Peace Corps Costa Rica strongly recommends interested candidates who are not native Spanish speakers to actively engage in Spanish language learning activities before coming to country in order to best prepare them for their service and for the intensive language training they will receive in Costa Rica.
Since Youth Development Volunteers work fully in Spanish, Trainees must be able to achieve a score of Intermediate-High on the language proficiency interview by the end of the 12 week Pre-Service Training (PST) in order to be eligible to swear-in as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Trainees are tested at multiple points throughout PST, and work together with staff to develop an individualized language learning plan designed to get them to Intermediate High level.
In their community, Peace Corps Volunteers must perform tasks like conducting meetings, interviews and assessments with community members, facilitate and co-facilitate trainings or workshops, as well as reporting the main outputs to counterparts and community members in Spanish. Due to the complexity of tasks, PCVs are encouraged to continue their language learning process until they successfully reach the advanced proficiency level. Reaching this level can be difficult for PCVs who begin PST with very low levels of Spanish.
All PCVs are required to live with a host family for Pre-Service Training and the initial 6 months. Living with a family has multiple benefits, including community integration, sense of security, increased language skills, friendship, cultural exchange, and gaining a unique understanding of Costa Rican (CR) culture. It could also present challenges such as lack of privacy, limited control and choice over diet, different family dynamics, rules and expectations. CR cultures are family-oriented. Families often expect PCVs to integrate into and respect their existing environment & norms. It is important that applicants think carefully about this requirement and are willing to do the work and embrace its challenges to maximize the rewards.
After the initial 6 months in the community of assignment, PCVs are eligible to live independently if they can identify a living situation in the community that meets PC’s housing criteria & receive PC approval. Some communities do not have a live-alone option and PCVs must be open to the possibility of living with a host family during their entire service.
After fulfilling all Pre-Service Training requirements and being cleared to swear in as a Peace Corps Volunteer, you will be assigned to serve somewhere in the country. PCV assignments are community- and institution-based, meaning that we will assign you based on how your skills, experience and assets match the community and institutional needs and reality. YD PCVs must be willing to serve where needed.
PCVs are placed in a variety of communities that vary in size and geographical characteristics, from remote, rural, indigenous communities to semi-rural resource-poor and access-limited towns, to peripheral cities. Most PCVs will be working in rural communities or small towns with limited resources, where their support is needed the most. Most communities are accessible to the capital within 2 to 8 hours by public transportation. Some communities will have limited transportation options that could vary from one bus a day to having a 2-hour walk to the closest bus.
Communities often have high levels of heat/humidity. Some might have limited access to electricity and phone service. Internet service is not always available.
Each community assignment will have its pros and cons. It is up to each PCV to adapt to the local reality and do their part to make it a positive experience.
It is important to note that PCVs working with at-risk or under-served populations may find the work and the environment to be very challenging both physically and emotionally.
Most people in CR take great pride in being neat, clean, and well-groomed even on informal occasions. PCVs should follow the example of partners at worksites and communities (Ex.: clean, ironed clothes; polished shoes, & groomed hair). Work with schools and other professionals require that PCVs demonstrate a professional attitude and appearance at all times. PCVs have to abide by the dress code and policies in the public school system, which tend to be conservative. PCVs should come prepared to use a business casual dress code while working.
Culture and Diversity
While the Peace Corps/Costa Rica (PC/CR) office welcomes and celebrates the diversity of its PCVs, the culture and beliefs in some of the communities where PCVs serve may produce stigma and discrimination. PCVs 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 country. PCVs who are of a US racial, ethnic, or national minority or whose religious or spiritual beliefs differ from the majority of their country of service may experience curiosity or unwanted attention. Many PCVs have been able to turn these encounters into learning experiences, share values, and deepen community members’ understanding of the U.S. PC/CR has committees in place to support and celebrate the diversity of PCVs.
Serving in Costa Rica
Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Costa Rica: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and safety — including crime statistics [PDF] — in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.
Costa Rica is happy to receive couples within the same sector. We will identify communities with sufficient work opportunities for both Volunteers. Therefore, both partners must qualify and apply for the Youth Development Promoter position.
Generally speaking, Volunteer couples should expect similar living conditions for them as for single Volunteers. The only variation is they will live with the same host family during Pre-Serving Training and once in their community.
Couples may work at the same school(s) or work at different institutions serving the same community. As with all Volunteers, couples are required to live with a host family for the first nine months in country (3 months during PST and 6 months in their community of assignment).
After an initial six months in your assigned community, Volunteers are eligible to live independently if they receive approval by Program Managers and can identify a living situation in the community that meets Peace Corps’ housing criteria. Some communities do not have a live-alone option and all Volunteers, including couples, must be open to the possibility to living with a host family during their entire 27 months of service.
Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.
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