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Peace Corps Volunteer

Community Economic Development Facilitator

Project description

Candidates who are dual citizens of Colombia and the U.S. or who were born in Colombia and became U.S. citizens after July 4, 1991, are not eligible to serve in Peace Corps Colombia.

Imagine yourself using your Spanish as you work with youth to develop life skills and set goals for their future. Can you see yourself biking to the local market, hearing boys and girls shout greetings as they ask about their next entrepreneurship lesson? Can you envision supporting a group of small business owners as they improve their management skills and pick a name for their new business product? If the answer is yes, Peace Corps wants you to share your passion, flexibility, and resiliency to support business and community initiatives in Colombia as a Community Economic Development (CED) Facilitator.
CED Facilitators collaborate with community partners to connect, support, and build the capacity of a wide array of stakeholders including community leaders, governmental employees, women’s and youth groups, teachers and students, local businesses, and community-based organizations. Volunteers collaborate with local partners to:
• Entrepreneurship – Co-facilitating training sessions to develop an entrepreneurial mindset and soft skills in youth and adults.
• Business Advising – Advising rural small businesses on basic management practices.
• Personal money management – Promoting strengthened personal finances through Community Savings Groups (CSGs) and financial literacy training.
Whether you are placed on the Caribbean Coast or in the Andean Region of Colombia, as a CED Facilitator Volunteers will engage with the Colombian Ministry of Education (MEN) through work with teachers and youth in the final two years of study at public high schools to promote an entrepreneurial vision, create a culture of savings, develop soft skills, and provide vocational orientation.
CED Facilitators also work in close coordination with the Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje (SENA), a national public institution focused on technical and vocational training for rural development. Volunteers work with SENA trainers to promote and support entrepreneurship and business development with local youth, informal groups, and business owners.
In rural Colombia, a small business can be very small, and often best described as a micro-enterprise. Volunteers may work with informal businesses such as a single mother with a juice stand, a farmer selling yucca at a local market, or a new enterprise led by youth. Sometimes it takes up to a year to build-up relationships that allow Volunteers to begin business consulting activities. Patience is essential!
Leveraging your own unique skills and interests, Volunteers may also organize youth leadership groups, teach technology classes, lead environmental awareness workshops, coach sports, teach English classes, or organize community-wide recycling projects alongside community partners.

Required skills

Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any business discipline
• 5 years professional experience in business management

Desired skills

Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:
• Master of Business Administration degree or a Master of Arts/Master of Science degree in Business Administration, Public Administration, Management, Accounting, Banking, Economics or Finance
• Work experience in entrepreneurship, financial literacy, small business and willing to work as a business mentor, trainer, or facilitator in high schools in rural and/or semirural communities, especially with youth and women.
• Experience working with youth (involvement in schools, clubs or with youth groups in activities related to vocational development, entrepreneurship, employability, soft skills, financial literacy, or business skills in a mentor/co-teacher role).
• Community organizing experience (promoting community groups, using participatory community assessment tools, leading committees/community projects, project design and management, proposal writing, fundraising, etc.).
• Experience creating and maintaining local networks with different stakeholders and interest groups.
• Experience designing work plans and self-directing their project work, under minimal supervision.
• Experience working with diverse rural community groups and in grassroots development.
• Experience working with women’s economic empowerment and/or women’s groups

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 are required to work exclusively in Spanish. Trainees must demonstrate a minimum Spanish level of intermediate-mid after 11 weeks of training. Language acquisition will be a high priority for those that complete training with the basic required Spanish level. Volunteers will be expected to reach a high level of Spanish during service and acquire professional and business vocabulary.

Living conditions

All work sites are in small and medium-sized rural communities, usually no more than six hours from a major city in the Caribbean or Andean regions. In the Caribbean region communities are hot and humid throughout the year with frequent electricity outages and water shortages. Seasons are divided into dry months with no rainfall and months of frequent rain and high humidity. The Andean climate is cooler, especially at night with rainfall throughout the year and fluctuating temperatures (45 -75 degrees Fahrenheit) depending upon the time of year.
Volunteers commute by public bus to attend training/working activities. Some Volunteers also use bicycles. Significant walking may be required when implementing projects in nearby rural communities.
Volunteers live with Colombian host families for the entire 27-month service to promote community integration and effectiveness. The host family stay is often one of the more rewarding components of Peace Corps service and an important means of cultural integration. As such, we ask Volunteers to be flexible and committed to building strong relationships with host families. Married couples will be placed with separate host families during training but will live together in independent housing during service.
Volunteers are expected to spend the majority of their time in the communities where they live and work. Because of this commitment to integrating into their communities, Volunteer travel and vacations are limited to when local schools are closed and/or organizations are not functioning.
Volunteers may be challenged by unequal gender norms, including that women perform most of the domestic labor (cooking, cleaning, and childcare) and have limited economic opportunities. Colombia is a predominantly male-dominated culture, especially in rural areas. Female Volunteers can expect to receive overt expressions of unwanted attention including catcalling and sexist remarks. Male Volunteers may also receive unwanted attention in more subtle ways, for example catcalling and standing out in their community/being the focus of attention. Peace Corps will provide various strategies and training on how to adjust.
Peace Corps Colombia is an open, non-judgmental place for Volunteers. However, values and mindsets about diversity (race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc.) in rural communities may vary significantly from those in the U.S. Volunteers need to be mindful of cultural norms and use their best judgment to determine the appropriate way to approach diversity issues in their communities. We ask Volunteers to be open to Colombian diversity, including approaching others’ cultural values and views on different aspects of life with curiosity. Volunteers who are noticeably different may receive unwanted attention and in some cases face discrimination by community members based on their identity. Peace Corps will address these issues in training and provide support during service.
The Colombian diet primarily consists of corn, rice, potatoes, yucca and other carbohydrates. However, there is a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. It is not very common to find vegetarians in rural communities. Volunteers may need to be flexible.
SPECIAL NOTICE ABOUT CITIZENSHIP: Candidates who are dual citizens of Colombia and the U.S. or who were born in Colombia and became U.S. citizens after July 4, 1991 are not eligible to serve in Peace Corps Colombia. Under Colombian law, anyone born in Colombia who became a U.S. citizen after 1991 or anyone holding dual U.S. and Colombia citizenship is considered a citizen of Colombia, and not of the United States. If an individual faced a legal, safety or emergency situation in Colombia, the Peace Corps' ability to intervene would be limited. If you fit one of these categories, we encourage you to look at Peace Corps Volunteer assignments in other countries.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Colombia: 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

Peace Corps Colombia encourages couples to apply. Partners that qualify for Peace Corps service in Colombia will be assigned to the same community but will have distinct projects during their two-year service. Your partner must qualify and apply as a Community Economic Development Facilitator.
During the 11-week Pre-Service Training, couples will each live with a different host family in separate homes to promote maximum language acquisition and cultural integration. During their 24 months of service, couples will live together in their own housing.
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 couples’ 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/

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