Youth in Development Program Coordinator

Currently, departure timelines are not available and the Peace Corps is not issuing invitations to serve. Once we begin issuing invitations, applicants will have a minimum of three to four months’ notice between invitation and departure.

The information provided for each assignment is subject to change.

Project Description

Since 1963 over 5,000 Volunteers have served in Guatemala making it one of the world’s longest standing posts. Volunteers serve in municipalities in one of six departments in the Western Highlands. A country of striking features and a strong indigenous culture, Guatemala's natural beauty and powerful identity stand prominent among countries of Central America. Indigenous populations make up about half of the population, with a high concentration in the Western Highlands. More than 20 indigenous languages are spoken alongside Spanish, the official tongue. Strategically located, with substantial natural resources and a young multi-ethnic population, Guatemala has enormous potential to generate growth and prosperity for its people. However, poverty and inequality in the country are persistently high, and high rates of childhood stunting and lack of opportunities for youth, women and the indigenous populations threaten Guatemala’s ability to reach its full development potential. Peace Corps Guatemala responds to these inequalities through strategic governmental collaborations and community empowerment within four project areas: Youth in Development, Maternal and Child Health, Community Economic Development, and Rural Extension.

Over 50 percent of Guatemala’s population is currently under the age of 25. This poses both a challenge and an opportunity. Some youth lack sufficient information to make informed decisions about their health and wellbeing. Parents, service providers and community leaders can empower youth to be positive agents of change in their communities. This can be accomplished through projects that promote good health, encourage youth to stay in school and that improve their economic prospects.
The Youth in Development program seeks to work with Guatemalan youth in their transition to become healthy, productive, civically engaged adults. To reach this goal, Volunteers will work with youth and key community members to strengthen the knowledge and skills in the areas of health, well-being and life skills. Projects will promote and strengthen community engagement and build capacity among educators and community leaders in the implementation positive youth development methodologies.

Volunteers will work with youth between the ages of 12 to 18 and their communities to implement positive youth development activities. The Volunteers’ primary role is to serve as a Program Coordinator and lead youth development efforts in and outside of school. The settings in which the Volunteer will mostly engage with are public Middle Schools. The Volunteer serves as a trainer, as a teacher and as a mentor to design and implement health and life skills training directly to Guatemalan youth. Topics include: life skills development, sexual and reproductive health, substance abuse prevention, service learning, leadership, community engagement and organizational development. Common Volunteer activities in the school setting include but are not limited to: life skills classes, youth clubs, rallies, school fairs, school assemblies, fine arts and work with student council. Common Volunteer activities outside of the school setting include but is not limited to: participation in local community meetings, sports, church groups, women’s groups, environmental clubs, and work with NGOs.

A large part of the role is working directly with youth and adults in both traditional and non-traditional learning environments, and being sensitive and flexible to cultural norms. Volunteers will also coordinate with adults in the community who are working in youth development. This is done by identifying key community actors and developing/strengthening a network for youth support both in their schools and community wide.

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 through the Youth in Development Program and meet one or more of the following criteria:

• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any field
• 5 years' professional work experience

Desired Skills

Competitive candidates will have at least one year of experience where they were able to demonstrate competency in three or more of the following (in order of priority):

• Developing, designing and/or delivering life skills workshops through areas such as but not limited to health, education, formal / informal teaching, guidance counseling, mentoring, recreation and sports, fine arts, or community organized events.
• Transferring knowledge and skills to youth in one or multiple settings such as but not limited to schools, community centers, youth groups and non-profit organizations.
• Experience working with local networks to promote positive youth engagement coordinating and facilitating individual and group activities and/or training sessions to youth and adults in the community on various topics.
• Emotional maturity and professionalism necessary to serve as a positive role model for youth.
• Strong communication and interpersonal skills to establish solid working relationships with important local stakeholders in an intercultural environment.
• Demonstrated professionalism both working independently and as part of a team.
• Strong ability to maintain flexibility and structure in unstructured environments.
• Strong ability to manage self-expectations in relation to community development, serving others and work ethics in professional environments.

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).

Volunteers need to demonstrate an Intermediate Mid level of oral and written proficiency in Spanish for community placement by the end of Pre-Service Training. Most Volunteers will work directly in Spanish and some will work in communities with Mayan languages with support from a Spanish/Mayan speaking community member. Volunteers serving in areas where Mayan languages are spoken may study the local language once they arrive to their community to assist with integration into the community and basic communication. Some will have the opportunity to study the local language once they arrive in their community to assist with integration into the community and basic communication.

Living Conditions

Work Site and Housing
Most Volunteers live in medium-sized to larger rural communities (3,000 - 40,000 people). Most communities have electricity and running water, but the supply may be intermittent. Fruits, vegetables, and meats are available on site or in nearby communities. Housing typically consists of cement block structures with a private bedroom and shared kitchen, bathroom, and living rooms. The phone plan Peace Corps provides includes credit for some local calls and limited internet. Most Volunteers have access to internet in their communities either in a local internet café or by purchasing additional internet data.

Host Family Situation
Volunteers are required to live with a host family during the 10-week Pre-Service Training (PST) and during the two years of service to increase integration and for continuous orientation to the local safety and security concerns. It is important that applicants be willing and eager to interact and live with a Guatemalan host family. Many Volunteers cook for themselves during service, but some opt to eat with their host family or in small local restaurants.

Diversity Challenges
While Guatemala is generally tolerant, values and morals concerning sexual orientation and gender identity may be different from those in the U.S. Volunteers will need to be mindful of cultural norms, and use their judgement to determine the best way to approach communicating sexual orientation and gender identity in their communities and host countries. Volunteers who are of an American racial, ethnic, or national minority or whose religious or spiritual beliefs differ from the majority of their country of service may find they experience a high degree of curiosity or unwanted attention from host country nationals. Staff and currently serving Volunteers will address these topics during Pre-Service Training, and identify support mechanisms for incoming trainees.

Volunteers are placed in Guatemalan communities which may be quite mountainous and, due to the altitude, can be cool to cold at night. Dressing in layers is the best way to deal with the daily temperature variations. The sunlight is strong, even during colder temperatures.

Personal appearance is important to people in Guatemala, so professional or business casual dress is expected. Dressing appropriately will help you gain respect in your host community, facilitate integration, and increase your credibility and effectiveness. It is advised to take cues from your Guatemalan colleagues, and dress to meet/exceed their standards of professionalism.

Volunteers with visible body piercings or tattoos will need strategies to conceal them. In Guatemala, tattoos may be associated with criminal activity. Likewise, having visible body piercings may make it more difficult to integrate into your host community. Keep in mind that Peace Corps/Guatemala staff will ask you to be flexible with regard to your personal appearance to facilitate integration in training and during your service. Remaining flexible is the key to Peace Corps service in any country.

Cultural Considerations
Guatemala is a very traditional and religious society. People’s roles in regards to gender, work, and the community are much more clearly defined along gender roles than in the U.S. Volunteers must be aware, tolerant, and respectful of their practices, customs, and way of life and they may need to adapt certain behaviors to demonstrate that respect.

The cultural and security considerations for alcohol use differ greatly in Guatemala and the United States. Volunteers must understand and evaluate the social and cultural implications of alcohol use in their communities. Peace Corps service has many stressors and it is important for applicants to bring healthy self-care practices and coping strategies that will help them serve positively within country. Additional conversations and guidance on coping strategies will be shared during the Pre-Service Training period.

Serving in Guatemala

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Guatemala: 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

Peace Corps/Guatemala is happy to accommodate cross-sector couples. We will identify communities with sufficient work opportunities for both Volunteers. Your partner can apply and must qualify for: Community Economic Development Facilitator, Youth in Development Program Coordinator

Couples will not live together during the ten weeks of Pre-Service Training. Guatemala’s community-based training model places trainees in communities based on their technical program and Spanish level. Special considerations are given to couples so that they live in nearby communities and they will have more flexibility to see each other (e.g. on weekends). Language acquisition and cultural integration increase when each member of the couple lives with a separate host family. After training, couples will live together for the duration of their service.

Medical Considerations

Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.

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