Youth Development Specialist

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.

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’s economic growth has suffered during the last two years. The unemployment rate remains elevated at 13% and is significantly higher among women and youth. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the effects of the recent drought, a recession has been expected. Morocco is caught between a fragile social system and a threatening economic slowdown, and there are challenges in the continuity of public services. That said, there is hope, even confidence, in Morocco’s ability to overcome crises. The call and proactive instructions from His Majesty Mohammed VI were immediately heard, followed, and executed on a large scale in the early months of 2020 and throughout the pandemic response.

Thirty percent of Morocco’s population is between 15 and 29 years old. While Moroccan youth have been responding to the crisis through public health promotion, volunteering, and innovation, they have been most vulnerable to the disruptions the pandemic has caused, and many are now at risk of being left behind in education, economic opportunities, and health, especially in rural areas.

Volunteers work with their local community partners to assess youth needs and empower them to use their assets and continue to build their life skills and contribute positively to their communities. Volunteers work with their community partners to conduct life skills-related activities in classes, clubs, and camps. They also facilitate volunteering opportunities for the youth and promote service-learning as well as larger community projects. In addition, Volunteers facilitate communicative English activities through a variety of interactive techniques.

Given the current crisis and its impact on education and health, Peace Corps Morocco has been asked by its primary ministry partner to consider additional activities to respond to needs that surfaced before and during the pandemic. Specifically, Volunteers and their community partners will facilitate health education activities and programs that promote effective hand-washing, social distancing, and other positive health issues. Digital and computer literacy is another need that has emerged during this period, and Volunteers are asked to work with their community partners to promote learning about Information & Communication Technology (ICT). It is widely recognized that possessing digital literacy is an important set of life skills to complement and extend the skills and knowledge youth already learn in school. Another area of interest to our partners is entrepreneurship-focused activities and programs that can help prepare youth for the challenges they face in their studies and careers. Some Volunteers with business development backgrounds will be asked to assist in promoting the Government of Morocco’s entrepreneurship initiative.

Volunteers live and work in rural, semi-urban, and urban communities throughout Morocco. They are assigned to a community which will include at least one institution from the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, including a youth center (Dar Chabab, literally “House of Youth” in Arabic) or a women’s center (Nedi Neswi). When Volunteers arrive to their community, they are also expected to initiate and expand their networks through meeting and collaborating with other local institutions and associations that provide services for youth. Since their work is largely unstructured, they will be responsible for building strong relationships with youth and community leaders in order to recruit youth and establish activities and programs that respond to their needs and interests. It is by investing in your connections and relationships that their work 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 Volunteers 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 Volunteers arrive. During Pre-Service Training (PST), Trainees 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. They 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.

SPECIAL NOTICE ABOUT CITIZENSHIP: Candidates who are either dual citizens of Morocco and the U.S., who were born in Morocco, or whose parent(s) is a/are Moroccan citizens are not eligible to serve in Peace Corps Morocco. Under Moroccan law, an individual who meets any of these criteria is considered a citizen of Morocco and would have responsibilities (including payment of taxes) and treated as a Moroccan citizen while in Morocco which may limit the Peace Corps' ability to intervene in any legal matter or emergency situation. If you fit any of the identified categories, we encourage you to consider other assignments.

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 and one or more of the following criteria:
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any field
OR
• 5 years' professional work experience

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.
• Experience using appropriate technology to accomplish work virtually, including technologies to support remote learning and youth programming.
• Demonstrated success working in unstructured or informal assignments; experience applying organizational skills in a community.
• 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 from under-resourced communities.

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; ongoing language support is available in the form of tutoring and additional training. Toward the end of Pre-Service Training and during service, Volunteers may also learn an Amazigh language (Tashelheit, Tamazight, or Tarifit), 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. Communities where Volunteers are assigned vary greatly, depending on the region and climate. Volunteers could live in the desert, the mountains, or a rural village. They could live in many types of accommodations, including apartments and houses. Volunteers may find many amenities such as electricity, hot water, and even internet, but shouldn’t expect consistent connectivity.

Pre-Service Training (PST) fosters the integration of Trainees in their communities through learning the language and becoming interculturally competent. The most effective Volunteers are the ones who are most integrated in their communities and its culture. PST includes a homestay with a Moroccan family, and Volunteers will also stay in host families for at least one month after arriving to their permanent site placements. 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; during PST Peace Corps introduces customs and norms along with ways to adapt.

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 the ability to adapt to and accept local norms and social customs throughout their service.

As foreigners, Volunteers may experience a lot of attention in their communities. 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, 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.

Volunteers of Color, particularly Black and Asian-American Volunteers, routinely experience high levels of unwanted attention, harassment, and discrimination. Black Volunteers have reported high levels of harassment in all areas of Morocco, and a contributing factor is prevailing Moroccan attitudes toward West African immigrants to Morocco. Asian-American Volunteers also receive unwanted attention because of their appearance and were subject to discrimination specifically with regards to the COVID-19 pandemic as the outbreak began in 2020.

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, as well as among the Peace Corps community and with their Moroccan contacts. Staff also plan a pre-service call with invitees before departure. Volunteers of a diverse range of backgrounds have been able to serve successfully in Morocco.

As Peace Corps Morocco continues to learn and revise its activities in a new context, it seeks Volunteers who are creative, flexible, and eager to seek out community needs around which to build a program of work. For additional information, please visit the Peace Corps Morocco website: https://www.peacecorps.gov/morocco/

Serving in Morocco

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Morocco: 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.

Couples Information

Married couples will live together for the duration of Peace Corps service. During Pre-Service Training and for a time in their permanent communities, couples will live together in a homestay environment.

After a period of time, 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 medical clearance process.


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