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Peace Corps Volunteer

Climate Change Awareness and Action Facilitator

Project description

Climate change poses a significant and urgent threat to humanity. Since 2006, Peace Corps Mexico has worked in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) to strengthen the resilience of individuals and rural communities in Mexico in the face of climate change. Peace Corps Mexico supports community-based efforts to instill a deep appreciation for the environment and local ecosystems within individuals and communities, while empowering them to take action to enhance local resilience. The program works with community members of all ages, from children to adults, with a focus on integrating a gender and youth perspective.

The program is guided by two core objectives. The first seeks that community members have greater knowledge and capacity to address the adverse local impacts of climate change on both people and the natural environment, while the second strives to facilitate actions that reduce these adverse impacts and promote increased resilience within the community.

To achieve the first objective, Volunteers engage in a range of activities. They co-facilitate educational activities through classes, workshops, environmental fairs, or talks that enhance individuals' understanding of local climate change impacts and seek to foster an appreciation for nature, which may include collaboration in the development of environmental education resources. Additionally, Volunteers co-train sessions to equip individuals with techniques to increase their resilience to climate change such as vegetable gardening for food production or the construction of cisterns to harvest and store rainwater.

To accomplish the second objective, Volunteers support the efforts of SEMARNAT and the community to implement sustainable soil and water conservation practices, as well as basic practices for responsible waste management such as composting, recycling, etc. Furthermore, Volunteers support the implementation of locally appropriate biodiversity conservation practices to preserve the unique ecosystems that surround rural communities such as monitoring biodiversity with the use of camera traps, creating gardens for pollinators, etc.

The focus of any Volunteer’s work will depend on local priorities as defined by SEMARNAT and the community, and as revealed through the “discovery” phase of a Volunteer’s service. Peace Corps Mexico Trainees visit their assigned communities during the fourth week of Pre-Service Training, which provides invaluable insight into the reality of their community and informs the remainder of their training.

Volunteers live in rural communities or small cities, and work under the supervision of SEMARNAT. They collaborate with local stakeholders—including community leaders, schools, and local organizations—to carry out program activities effectively and to ensure a lasting impact.

By joining the Climate Change Awareness and Action Program, you will have an opportunity to make a tangible difference in the lives of individuals and communities in Mexico, not only for today but into the future. You will play a crucial role in building resilience, fostering environmental stewardship, and empowering local stakeholders to take meaningful action against climate change. Together, we can create a sustainable future and inspire positive change.

Climate change activities

As the impacts of climate change become ever more evident, the social, economic, and environmental conditions faced by local communities will become increasingly problematic, particularly for vulnerable households in low-lying areas and historically marginalized communities. As a Peace Corps Volunteer, you will be trained to use a participatory approach and tools to identify locally determined priorities and conditions, including those related to the impacts of climate change. The types of interventions undertaken will be guided by national and local priorities for climate change adaptation as identified in your country’s National Adaptation Plan (NAP) and those environment-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs 6, 12, 13, 14 & 15) that have been identified for local action. As an Environment Volunteer, you will be trained to use this knowledge to work with government, local, and community stakeholders to mitigate some of the adverse impacts of climate change while promoting resiliency, and engaging in projects and activities that:

• strengthen the ability of vulnerable households and communities to respond to extreme weather events such as cyclones, hurricanes, and typhoons;
• enhance local and community capacities for effective implementation of NAP and SDG priorities;
• reduce greenhouse gas emissions through promoting the expansion of renewable energy technologies;
• support the development of sustainable mechanisms that incorporate the “3 Rs” (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) of effective solid waste management practices; and
• work with Volunteers in other sectors to integrate climate change adaptation practices into their activities (e.g., work with Health Volunteers to reduce respiratory health issues of women and girls through use of improved cook stoves; work with Education Volunteers to mitigate the impact of heat waves on local teaching or establishing tree nurseries and planting trees to reduce the time that students use in collecting firewood).

Required skills

Qualified candidates will have an expressed interest in promoting environmental awareness in schools and communities, 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

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

• BA/BS in Environmental Science, Environmental Studies, Environmental Education, Natural Resources Management, or a related field.
• One or more years of professional work experience in environmental education, environmental or natural resource-related activities, and/or climate change resilience or adaptation activities.
• A basic understanding of environmental issues, ecology, and/or climate change.
• Experience organizing and/or facilitating environmental activities.
• Experience teaching environmental content to all ages.
• Experience with effective classroom management and informal education.

Additional Skills:

• Community mobilization.
• Experience working with children and/or youth.
• Experience with group management/participatory methodology.
• Teaching in formal or non-formal setting, lesson planning, etc.
• Monitoring and evaluation, including the use of data collection and reporting tools.

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). Candidates must meet the minimum language requirements to be considered for an invitation.

Spanish is essential for a successful and satisfying service. Candidates who have more than the minimum Spanish required are better able to integrate into their communities and work environment. There is high quality, but limited, in-person language instruction during Pre-Service Training. Trainees are expected to integrate as much as possible within their host families, maximizing exposure to Spanish throughout the ten-week training program. Every Trainee will take a Language Proficiency Interview (LPI) exam at the end of Pre-Service Training and must achieve an ACTFL-certified level of Intermediate-Mid rating in order to swear in as a Peace Corps Volunteer. For that reason, candidates are strongly encouraged to work on improving their language skills before departing for Peace Corps Mexico.

Living conditions

Most Volunteers are assigned to small rural communities (200 to 5,000 people) or small to medium-sized towns (up to 50,000 people) in central Mexico. Some cities or towns may be more progressive, while rural areas and small towns tend to have more traditional and conservative values; this could be quite different than what most Volunteers are accustomed to and require significant adaptation.

A Volunteer community could be located up to 10 hours from the Peace Corps Mexico Office. Routine travel could range from a short walk or bike ride of 15-20 minutes to several kilometers. Travel to a larger community that provides access to services, better communication, and transportation could take up to two hours by vehicle, depending on road conditions. However, all assigned communities are located within a one-hour walking distance from public transportation.

All Volunteer communities have some form of communication, whether landline or cell phones, telephone booths, satellite phones, or internet access. However, due to the isolation of certain communities or adverse weather conditions, service can be slow or intermittent and may even be inactive for several days. Nevertheless, there is always a larger community within a two-hour distance where communication is more reliable. In most of central Mexico, especially in mountainous areas, it can be cold in the evening throughout much of the year. Daytime highs can be very hot, but a jacket and hat can be useful in the evening. Temperatures can range from freezing to the upper 90s. Layering is a good strategy year-round, and Volunteers should be prepared for rainy weather.

To promote community integration and language learning, host family stays are required during the 10-week Pre-Service Training (PST) and during the first three months of service. A host family could be a couple with children, a grandmother living alone, a single parent who works all day, or any other type of family. After living with a host family for the first three months, some Volunteers decide to live independently in apartments or small houses, if suitable and affordable housing is available. Other Volunteers continue to live with a host family. Additional information on living conditions can be found at: https://www.peacecorps.gov/mexico/preparing-to-volunteer/living-conditions/

Through inclusive recruitment and retention of staff and Volunteers, the Peace Corps seeks to reflect the rich diversity of the United States and to bring diverse perspectives and solutions to locally defined priorities in Mexico. Additionally, ensuring diversity among staff and Volunteers enriches interpersonal relations and communications for the staff work environment, the Volunteer experience, and for the communities in which Volunteers serve. Our definition of diversity can include, but is not limited to, race, ethnicity, gender identity, age, religion, education, and ability. During PST, multiple sessions and guidance will be provided to discuss diversity and inclusion. For more specific information about serving as a diverse Volunteer in Mexico, please visit https://www.peacecorps.gov/mexico/preparing-to-volunteer/diversity-and-inclusion/

SPECIAL NOTICE ABOUT CITIZENSHIP: Candidates who are either dual citizens of Mexico and the U.S., or who were born in Mexico and became U.S. citizens after 1998, are not eligible to serve with Peace Corps Mexico. Volunteer safety is of paramount importance, and the protections of U.S. citizenship promote Volunteer safety. Under Mexican law, anyone born in Mexico who became a U.S. citizen after 1998, or anyone holding dual U.S. and Mexican citizenship, is considered a citizen of Mexico and not of the United States. If such an individual were to face a legal, safety, or other emergency situation in Mexico, the Peace Corps' ability to intervene would be limited. If you fit either of these categories, we encourage you to look at other opportunities with Peace Corps.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Mexico: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and health/crime statistics in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Medical considerations

Before you apply, please review medical clearance and legal clearance to learn about the process.

Couples information

Mexico can accommodate couples that serve together in the same sector. In this case, both partners must apply and qualify for:

Climate Change Awareness and Action Facilitator

Couples can have a very positive and productive experience serving in Mexico. During the 10-week Pre-Service Training, couples have the option of living with the same host family or living separately in order to maximize Spanish language learning.

During their first three months of service in their community, couples live together with the same host family. After this time, couples may choose to stay with the host family, or rent an apartment or small house.
Some couples may encounter challenging situations such as being asked questions about having children or be the subject of comments or jokes about being monogamous. During Pre-Service Training, staff and Volunteers address these issues, and Volunteers develop their own strategies for resilience and to adapt to such realities.

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. In the case of Peace Corps Mexico, the Climate Change Awareness and Action Program is unable to accept same-sex couples at this time because Volunteers are placed in communities that tend to maintain conservative values, which could threaten the Volunteers’ well-being or ability to work. 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/.

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