Youth Development Specialist

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Project Description

Currently the only country in the North Africa/Middle East region hosting a Peace Corps program, the Kingdom of Morocco is located in North Africa and blessed with an abundance of natural resources, beauty, and warm hospitality. Morocco is a country in transition politically, socially, and economically, and the youth population in Morocco represents a dynamic demographic with enormous potential. Youth development has become a major focus for the government of Morocco, as unemployment of educated youth is high, and many youth are seeking opportunities to advance their skills for their future.

In this project, Peace Corps Volunteers in Morocco address challenges facing young people in their communities, as they empower youth to build life skills and engage as active citizens through a variety of formal and informal avenues. Volunteers are assigned to youth-serving organizations to address topics that are interesting and engaging and foster positive youth development. Volunteers work with local youth in rural, semi-urban, and urban communities throughout Morocco. Volunteers aim to strengthen the personal development of young people by building life skills, empowering them to be positively engaged in their communities, and improving communication skills in English. As a youth development Volunteer, you will be assigned to a community which will include one or more of the following: a youth center (Dar Chabab, literally “House of Youth” in Arabic), a women’s center (Nedi Neswi), school dormitory, or other associations working with youth.

Volunteers conduct needs and resources assessments with youth in their communities and mobilize youth to use their assets to address identified needs. Volunteers will work with community partners to conduct fun activities, classes, clubs, and camps to attract youth to extracurricular activities based on their needs and interests. These activities are designed to build life skills among youth. Volunteers will also guide and mentor youth actively to engage in their communities by participating in volunteer opportunities and co-facilitating service-learning and larger community projects. At the request of the Ministry of Youth and Sports and local communities, Volunteers will also conduct activities in English as a way to improve communicative English skills. This is a key way to attract youth to engage in life skills through activities they enjoy, such as theater, music, crafts, art, and sports, using English.

Because you are an American, the youth in your community will be curious about you and interested in learning from you. Volunteers in this assignment should expect to teach English and work directly with youth in classes, clubs, and camps to organize activities related to the community’s interests and needs. Teaching English is a particularly effective way to learn about your new community and begin working with young people. It provides you with a legitimate role from the very start, the opportunity for rapid integration as a Youth Development Specialist, and a springboard for the implementation of activities outside the classroom. Most Volunteers hold at least one English class per week for their community during at least the first few months of service, including various groups of people and proficiency levels. Many Volunteers also tutor youth in English one-on-one or in small groups in their communities. When you arrive to your community, you are also expected to network in your community and to meet and collaborate with other organizations and associations that provide services for youth. As you are building relationships critical to your success in the community, there will likely be many possibilities for sharing your hobbies and interests with youth, as well as building on their interests and skills to conduct a variety of activities in the community, including the creation of volunteerism opportunities and service-learning projects. Since your work is largely unstructured, you will be responsible for building strong relationships with youth and community leaders in order to attract youth and then establish activities that keep youth engaged. It is from your connections and relationships in the community that your work activities will be sustained.

Girls’ education is a priority for Morocco. Volunteers and their counterparts place special emphasis on meeting girls’ and young women’s needs through education, health and fitness, and empowerment-related activities. There will be many opportunities for you to become involved in projects addressing this area, as well as other areas of community development and youth enrichment.

Peace Corps Morocco provides high-quality language and technical training that starts the day you arrive. During pre-service training (PST), you will be introduced to the key principles of positive youth development and methodologies for attracting youth and building life skills through classes, clubs, camps, and mentoring. You will also learn about community integration, participatory community assessments, and tools for communicating and engaging across cultures. Peace Corps Morocco is committed to providing all Volunteers with relevant professional and cultural training for effective service in their communities.

Required Skills

Qualified candidates will have an expressed 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
All successful applicants to Peace Corps Morocco must have demonstrated enthusiasm and desire to work with youth.

Desired Skills

• Formal or informal classroom teaching experience, particularly English teaching.
• Experience working with youth ages 12 - 29 in after-school activities or other areas of non-formal education. Highly competitive applicants will have experience with youth in summer camps, clubs, sports, music, art, theater, volunteerism, and service-learning.
• Demonstrated success working in unstructured or informal assignments; experience applying organizational skills in a community.
• Mature interpersonal skills, a willingness to suspend judgment, and the ability to adapt to and accept local norms and social customs are important skills to maximize success. Peace Corps introduces customs and norms along with ways to adapt during Pre-Service Training. Morocco is a traditional, family-centered society with patriarchal leanings and, by most American standards, fixed views on gender roles and expectations.

Required Language Skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position.

During Pre-Service Training, all Trainees will learn Moroccan Arabic, also called Darija, which is distinct in some ways from classical Arabic. All Trainees are expected to achieve a Novice High level of proficiency by the end of Pre-Service Training. Volunteers are expected to build on their language skills throughout service and to be successful; ongoing language support is available in the form of tutoring and in-service training. Toward the end of Pre-Service Training and during your service, you may also learn an Amazigh language (Tashelheit, Tamazight, or Tarifeet), depending on the language most commonly spoken in the community to which you are assigned.

Living Conditions

Morocco is a beautiful country with a rich history, unique traditions and culture, and wonderful cuisine. The sizes and profile of sites where Volunteers are assigned vary greatly, depending on the region and climate. You could live in the desert, the mountains, or a rural village. You could live in many types of accommodations, including apartments and houses. You may find many amenities such as electricity, hot water, and even internet, but don’t expect consistent connectivity.

For the duration of Pre-Service Training (PST) and when you first arrive at your site, you will be staying with a host family. The experience of living with a Moroccan family is often one of the most rewarding aspects of Volunteer service. Host families offer Volunteers a deeper understanding of local culture, traditions, and customs and help them to become an integral part of the community. The ability to adapt to unfamiliar customs and family norms is an important skill to have or obtain; Peace Corps introduces customs and norms along with ways to adapt during PST.

Morocco is a traditional, family-centered society with hierarchical and patriarchal leanings, and, by many American standards, fixed views on gender roles and expectations. Therefore, Volunteers must have mature interpersonal skills, a willingness to suspend judgment, and ability to adapt to and accept local norms and social customs throughout their service.

Morocco includes a variety of styles of dress, blending Western and traditional clothing. Generally, great importance is attached to neatness and proper dress, particularly in the professional fields. Volunteers should dress neat and professionally, both on and off the job and respect host country attitudes towards personal appearance. Dress for women requires much more coverage than would be necessary in the U.S. Some workplaces and communities are far more conservative than others, but we advise that you come prepared for the most conservative scenario, with at least one professional outfit that covers you from elbow to ankle. Youth Development Specialists can be positive adult role models, so dress / appearance is extremely important.

As foreigners, Volunteers may experience a lot of attention in their communities; racially diverse Volunteers will likely face additional unwanted attention. Same-sex relationships are against the law, and sexual orientation and gender identities are considered taboo topics in Morocco. Volunteers must be discreet about their sexual orientation and gender identity within their host communities. All Peace Corps Morocco Volunteers receive training on appropriate measures to mitigate and respond to harassment. However, in Morocco, as in many parts of the world, people frequently associate Americans with white skin, blond hair, and blue eyes. Volunteers who do not fit these stereotypes often face additional challenges while integrating into their communities.

Peace Corps is committed to creating a supportive and inclusive environment for Volunteers of all backgrounds throughout service. Peace Corps Morocco has a variety of support structures, including a Volunteer Support Network and a Diversity Committee, to ensure Volunteers are able to discuss their concerns with peers and staff throughout service confidentially. Volunteers of a diverse range of backgrounds have been able to serve successfully in Morocco.

Volunteers who are flexible, enthusiastic to integrate into their host communities, and motivated to contribute to the development of others will be able to form deep and meaningful relationships and find great satisfaction in their work. Volunteers who take deliberate steps to seek out new people and relationships will find the most success culturally and professionally.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Morocco: 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

Married couples will stay together with a host family during training and for a period after swearing in as Volunteers. Following the mandatory host family stay, married couples may choose to move into separate housing. Please note that married couples may have separate work assignments with different organizations, but will be placed within the same community.

Medical Considerations

Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the clearance process and other health conditions that are difficult to accommodate in Peace Corps service.

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