Youth Development Promoter

Project Description

Youth in Development (YD) Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) work with youth ages 10-19, especially those in the second (ages 10-13) and third cycle (ages 13-16) of the Costa Rican Education system. The project goal is to equip youth to be healthy, productive, and active citizens. In support of this goal, PCVs will collaborate with partners (youth service providers, parents, youth leaders, community leaders, and/or other organizations or NGOs) on specific program activities across three project objectives:


a) Strengthen youth wellbeing: PCVs support partners in designing, implementing, and facilitating workshops, clubs, camps, and similar spaces regarding life skills, gender equality, sports, arts, and/or recreation activities in the school or community.

b) Strengthen opportunities for youth community engagement: PCVs support partners in designing, implementing, and facilitating activities to promote active youth participation in community life by engaging them as leaders and participants of Volunteer opportunities, service learning, and awareness activities in both schools and communities.

c) Strengthen youth support systems: PCVs support partners in designing, implementing, and facilitating activities that promote positive youth development, and activities that foster a supportive environment for youth through positive interactions and communications with parents and caregivers.

All assignments have a strong focus on preventative activities, which includes empowering youth through education, community-based activities, and furthering children’s rights.

PCVs 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. The program prioritizes under-resourced communities. Each Volunteer typically works in two public schools, or a school and another organization serving youth.

PCVs will perform a participatory community assessment of 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. 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 on their progress and results to the YD program staff and their community partners. PCVs are expected to work full time to address community and partner needs, which might include working weekends. PCVs and the assigned institutions will coordinate a work schedule according to the projects identified in the Work Plan.

COVID-19 Volunteer Activities

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 expressed interest in working directly with adolescents (10-14) and youth (15-24), and one or more of the following criteria:

• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any field OR
• 5 years professional work experience in the youth sector.

Desired Skills

Competitive candidates will have at least one or more of the following criteria:

• Master’s degree in Social Work, Psychology, Education, Youth Development, Applied Behavioral Science, or related field.
• Bachelor’s degree in Social Work, Psychology, Education, Youth Development, Applied Behavioral Science, or related field, AND at least 3 months experience working with youth and/or families.
• 3 years of professional experience working with and/or families from under-resourced communities.
• 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).

PC/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 an Intermediate-High score 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 an 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.

Living Conditions

Housing:

All PCVs are required to live with a host family for three months of Pre-Service Training and the initial six months in their community of service. Living with a family has multiple benefits, including community integration, a 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 limited privacy, 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 embrace its challenges to maximize the rewards.

After the initial six months in the community of assignment, PCVs are eligible to live independently if they can identify a living situation in the community that meets Peace Corps’ (PC)’s housing criteria and receive PC approval. Some communities do not have a live-alone option and therefore PCVs must be open to the possibility of living with a host family during their entire service.

Community Assignment:

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 and experience match the community and institutional needs and reality. PCVs must be willing to serve where needed most.

PCVs are placed in a variety of communities that vary in size and geographical characteristics, from remote, rural, indigenous communities to semi-rural towns, to peripheral cities. These communities will have limited resources, and limited access to the capital, with a combination of walking and public buses often requiring 2 to 8 hours of travel to reach San Jose.

PCVs should expect tropical living conditions. This includes high levels of heat and humidity, a heavy rainy reason, tropical insects and animals, mountainous terrain, and unpaved roads. PCVs should also expect limited access to electricity, phone service, and internet service.

PCVs working in Costa Rica’s under-resourced communities may find the work and the environment to be very challenging both physically and emotionally.

Professional Appearance:

Most people in CR take great pride in being neat, clean, and well-groomed even on informal occasions. Work with schools and other professionals requires 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 tends 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 U.S. 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.

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.

Couples Information

Costa Rica is happy to receive couples within the same sector. We will identify sufficient work opportunities within the same community for both Volunteers. Therefore, both partners must qualify and apply for:

Youth Development Promoter.

Generally speaking, Volunteer couples should expect similar living conditions for them as for single Volunteers. Couples will live with the same host families during the 3 months of Pre-Serving Training, and the first 6 months in their community of service.

Couples may work at the same school(s) or work at different institutions serving the same community.

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.

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 couple 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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