Youth Development Promoter
Peace Corps Costa Rica’s Youth In Development Volunteers (hereafter, Volunteers) 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 aims to equip youth to be healthy, productive, and active citizens. In support of this goal, Volunteers 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: Volunteers 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: Volunteers support partners in designing, implementing, and facilitating activities to promote 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: Volunteers 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 strongly focus on preventative activities, including empowering youth through education, community-based activities, and furthering children’s rights.
Volunteers work in communities identified in collaboration with our host country agencies (the Ministry of Public Education and other government institutions) which 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.
Volunteers 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 Volunteer will create a work plan for service in collaboration with local professionals and community leaders. Volunteers typically support ongoing youth-oriented programs in schools and the community, bringing new ideas, approaches, and/or techniques to those spaces. Volunteers also support creating new youth-oriented prevention programs, coordinating with partners to ensure relevance and sustainability. Volunteers must be proactive, self-driven, and motivate others about advancing youth development.
Volunteers continuously monitor and evaluate the activities in their Work Plan, and every six months submit work reports on their progress and results to program staff and their community partners. Volunteer works full-time to address community and partner needs, which might include working weekends. Volunteers, 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.
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
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 children 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).
Peace Corps Costa Rica strongly recommends non-native Spanish-speaking candidates to proactively engage in Spanish language learning activities before arrival. This prepares them for service and the intensive language training in Costa Rica.
As Volunteers work fully in Spanish, Trainees must take personal responsibility to achieve an Intermediate-High score on the language proficiency interview by the end of the 12-week Pre-Service Training (PST) to be eligible as Peace Corps Volunteers. This can be challenging for Trainees with very limited Spanish skills at the start of PST. Staff assesses Trainees’ language proficiency at multiple points during PST and creates individualized learning plans to support their progress towards reaching an Intermediate-High level.
Once at their assigned community, Volunteers will need advanced Spanish skills to conducting meetings, interviews, trainings, assessments, and reporting. They are expected to continue actively participate in their language learning journey until reaching an advanced proficiency level.
Volunteers are required to live with a host family for at least nine months, including three months during Pre-Service Training (PST) and at least six months in their assigned community. If suitable housing is available later, they may request independent living. Many communities don’t offer independent living, so Volunteers should prepare themselves to live with a host family throughout their service.
Although living with a family brings challenges (less privacy, new diet, noise, etc.), the homestay experience offers rewards like community integration, safety considerations, increased language skills, building trust and friendships, cultural sharing, and a unique understanding of the Costa Rican culture. Applicants must think carefully about the commitment to live and integrate with a Costa Rican host family, particularly one with limited resources. They must be willing to follow cultural norms and respect family dynamics.
Peace Corps Staff arrange housing with respected host families in the assigned communities. Staff thoroughly inspect homes prior to approval. Most host-family homes have indoor bathrooms and showers but do not have hot water.
Most Costa Ricans take great pride in being neat, clean, and well-groomed, even on informal occasions. Volunteers should always follow the example of Costa Ricans at their worksites and in their communities (e.g., clean and ironed clothes, polished shoes, and groomed hair). Working with schools, government officials, entrepreneurs, and other professionals requires that Volunteers consistently demonstrate a professional attitude and appearance. Professional dress in the workplace is business casual and includes knee-length skirts/dresses, pressed pants, khakis, nice jeans, blouses, collared shirts, or short sleeve polos. Flip-flops, sport sandals, shorts, tank tops, t-shirts, crop tops, and other athleisure wear should only be worn in the home, during recreational activities, or at the beach, but never at work. Revealing attire or the lack of proper undergarments is never acceptable for Peace Corps service.
CULTURE AND DIVERSITY:
While the Peace Corps/Costa Rica (PC/CR) office welcomes and celebrates the diversity of its Volunteers, the culture and beliefs in some communities may produce stigma and discrimination. Volunteers must be mindful of cultural norms and use their judgment to determine how best to approach diversity issues in Costa Rica. Volunteers of a U.S. racial, ethnic, or national minority or whose religious or spiritual beliefs differ from most of their Costa Rican community may experience curiosity or unwanted attention. Many Volunteers have been able to turn these encounters into learning experiences, to share values, and to deepen community members’ understanding of the U.S.
SITE LOCATION & PHYSICAL HARDSHIPS:
Work sites vary in size and geographical characteristics, from remote rural communities to semi-rural, access-limited towns. All communities will have limited resources and services, and local populations may have limited education. Most sites are hot and humid year-round, and many areas are physically challenging, i.e., mountainous terrain, rocky unpaved roads, and extensive mud in the rainy season. All regions of Costa Rica experience a heavy rainy season. As such, Volunteers must prepare for tropical living and coexistence with tropical insects/animals, including mosquitos, cockroaches, spiders, ants, rodents (mice and rats), arthropods, snakes, bats, and many kinds of insects they have not seen before.
Nearly all Volunteer sites are accessible to the capital San José within two to six hours by public transportation. The closest urban center may be as little as 1 hour away by public transportation. Buses are available from all communities at least several days a week. They are both inexpensive and relatively dependable.
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 and will identify sufficient work opportunities within the same community for both Volunteers. This cohort will include two programs: Community Economic Development and Youth In Development. We offer couples the choice of working in the same program or one in each program.
NOTE: Each applicant must apply separately and qualify for their respective program.
Couples can expect similar living conditions for them as for single Volunteers. They will live with the same host family during the three months of Pre-Serving Training; however, they may have Spanish classes in different groups depending on language levels. They will then live with the same family for the first six months in their assigned community. If suitable housing is available later, they may request independent living. Many communities don’t offer independent living, so Volunteers, including couples, should prepare themselves to live with a host family throughout their service.
NOTE: While couples will be working in the same community, they may be assigned to work at different institutions.
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/.
Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.
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