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Peace Corps Volunteer

Community Organizational Development Volunteer

Project description

Kosovo declared independence in 2008, and is a nation rich in history, cultural diversity, natural beauty, and hospitality. A mountainous country with ample hiking trails and centuries-old cultural heritage sites, Kosovo is home to Albanian, Bosniak, Serb, Turkish, Roma, Askhali, Egyptian, Gorani communities. Peace Corps Volunteers serving in Kosovo are participating in a significant and exciting period of growth and development in this fascinating and complex multicultural post-conflict nation. The people of Kosovo are hospitable to Americans and the Peace Corps Volunteers who leave lasting impacts on their communities. Since 2014, Volunteers have worked alongside counterparts in public schools and non-governmental organizations across Kosovo. Together, they have inspired students and expanded opportunities for youth and women. Kosovo is a small, emerging nation with tremendous potential and opportunities for creating positive change.

Community Organizational Development Volunteers work with local government and civic society organizations to promote citizen participation, especially among youth and women. Volunteers work in partnership with community members to strengthen the organizational capacity of local institutions and non-governmental organizations. They also encourage volunteerism through community-based projects. To support the economic upward mobility of youth and women, Volunteers organize employment skills training (networking, resume writing, interviewing, etc.).
Volunteer duties often consist of the following:
• Co-facilitate with local partners a community needs assessment to determine local needs and priorities;
• Co-facilitate community-based projects based on locally identified needs;
• Plan and facilitate extracurricular programs that strengthen employability skills;
• Coordinate youth programming including clubs, camps, sports, and other extra-curricular activities that support life skills, leadership, and volunteerism;
• Implement workshops to raise awareness on key issues and concerns in the community, (e.g. environmental protection, gender equality and property rights);
• Support organizations’ preparation and submission of project and grant proposals;
• Mentor youth and/or women in life skills and employability skills.

Other expectations include:
• Demonstrate independence, self-initiative, flexibility, open-mindedness, and commitment to serve.
• Possess an attitude of humility and curiosity towards other cultures.
• Exhibit adaptability and a willingness to sensitively communicate when confronting challenges.
• Demonstrate empathy and a willingness to view situations from multiple perspectives.

Required skills

Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline and 2 years management or organizational development experience with nonprofit organizations
• Master of Arts/Master of Science degree with an emphasis in non-profit management, public administration, or organizational development
• 5 years professional work experience with nonprofit organizations in a management or organizational development capacity

Desired skills

• Experience in public administration and/or working with non-governmental organizations.
• Experience with organizational development or business management (marketing, financial management, etc.)
• Experience working with formal or informal youth and/or women’s groups/organizations.
• Experience planning and organizing non-formal educational activities (clubs, camps, service learning, sports activities, etc.) for youth
• Experience working on gender equality/women’s and girls’ empowerment initiatives or programs
• Experience developing employment skills training (networking, resume writing, interviewing, etc.) for youth and/or women
• Experience in fundraising and grant writing

Required language skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position. While there is no language requirement for acceptance to serve in Peace Corps Kosovo, some communities have no English speakers, so all candidates should come fully prepared to learn the local language(s). There is great emphasis placed on Volunteers' language acquisition. All Peace Corps Volunteers are required to learn either Albanian or Serbian based on the language of the community where they will serve. Most Volunteers learn Albanian. Volunteers who are interested in learning Serbian and living in a non-majority community can indicate so before Pre-Service Training. Peace Corps encourages and supports language learning throughout Volunteers’ service by providing in-service language training and access to language tutors.

Living conditions

Most Community Organizational Development Volunteers will live in medium-sized towns and/or small cities (population 5,000 – 50,000). While some locations in Kosovo have good infrastructure and aspects of modern living, others do not. Homes generally have access to electricity, running water, and modest living conditions. Rooms are furnished with very basic furniture, and not every family member has their own bedroom. Family members, guests, and neighbors spend many hours together in the common rooms of the house during the cold winter seasons. In the summer, patios or balconies are common shared spaces. Social and cultural norms, as well as high rates of unemployment, contribute to the frequent and extensive use of shared living areas as sometimes multiple generations live under one roof.

Volunteers live with host families for a minimum of 9 months of service in their communities to facilitate community integration, language acquisition, and cultural adaptation. Host families provide living space with a secure, private bedroom with basic furniture, a shared bathroom, and a kitchen. Volunteers in Kosovo often choose to live with their host families for 27 months as it is an important continuous learning experience that allows a deeper understanding of the Kosovar culture. In general, in small communities and even in larger cities, there are few affordable options available for Volunteers to live independently. Integration with a family is important for community engagement. Kosovars generally live together in larger, multi-generational households where typical gender roles and norms are expected. Concepts of privacy and independence in Kosovo are often different from the norms and expectations of most Americans. Most families will expect Volunteers to spend much of their free time with the family.

Spring and fall months are mild with some rainfall, while summers are hot and dry. Winter lasts from November to March with snowfall, similar to the Mid-Atlantic area of the U.S. However, temperatures may feel colder because few homes have central heating. The majority of homes in Kosovo use wood stoves for heating just one room of the house where everyone gathers during the cold months. Homes, schools, and office buildings typically do not have central heating or air-conditioning. Cigarette smoking inside households is common.

Kosovo is a conservative culture with traditional gender norms in most households. Women may be expected to perform routine domestic chores such as cooking, cleaning, and serving coffee to guests. Men generally work outside the household as the primary breadwinner and perform household repairs. Kosovars are generally tolerant of different religions, but outward displays of religious symbols, such as wearing crosses or hijabs, are discouraged. In smaller communities, there are more conservative views regarding alcohol consumption, sexual orientation, gender identity, dress, and social activities. Larger towns and cities may have different views. Kosovars are generally known for their generous hospitality and graciousness and have favorable impressions of United States citizens. However, Volunteers of an American racial, ethnic, or national minority or whose religious or spiritual beliefs differ from the majority of the country of service may experience challenges related to curiosity or unwanted attention. Volunteers are encouraged to use these moments as opportunities to deepen local community members’ understanding of U.S. diversity by sharing their values and experiences. Staff will address these topics during Pre-Service Training and identify support mechanisms for incoming trainees such as various discussion panels with diverse PCVs, Volunteer-led committees with a focus on diversity and inclusion, peer support networks, etc.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Kosovo: 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 Kosovo can accommodate couples serving in different sectors (English Education and Community Organizational Development combination). Under special circumstances, a couple where both are serving in TEFL or COD might be able to be accommodated. During Pre-Service Training, couples are offered the option to either live together or live separately. Living separately during training can assist with quicker language acquisition and cultural integration.

Couples are generally well-regarded and treated with respect. They typically encounter fewer integration issues because marriage between a man and a woman is a common convention. Couples live with a host family for at least 9 months of their service. They may be extended a bit more privacy in the household or may have more independent living space (an apartment on a separate floor of a large family home).

During pre-service training, couples have the option to live with different families or together.

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