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English Education Volunteer

Project description

In August 2018, Peace Corps was invited to establish a program in Montenegro. At the request of the Government of Montenegro, the program focuses on English Education and Youth Engagement. This program is managed and supported by Peace Corps Albania and Montenegro staff in both Podgorica, Montenegro and Tirana, Albania.
Volunteers selected to depart in 2024 will be the third group of Peace Corps Volunteers to serve in communities in Montenegro. Volunteers will depart for service and train together with other Volunteers who will serve in Albania. Medical and training support, as well as overall leadership of the Montenegro program, will be provided from Tirana, Albania. Therefore, Volunteers will have to cross borders and travel to Tirana for trainings or medical appointments.
Service in Montenegro will have the additional challenge of navigating greater levels of ambiguity than service in a long-established program. This cohort will help Peace Corps further learn what it means to be a Volunteer in Montenegro and build a stronger program. The individuals selected should have demonstrated high levels of initiative and resilience, strong communication skills, and the ability to work well with various stakeholders, including community members, school faculty, and Peace Corps staff.

Volunteers will mostly be assigned to primary (K-9) schools, although some may be placed in high-schools, and will co-teach with one or more Montenegrin English teachers. As an English Education and Youth Development Volunteer, you will work alongside your teacher counterpart, whether it be for lesson planning or co-teaching in the classroom. In other words, you are expected to act in accordance with the professional standards followed by the teaching staff at your placement school. This includes arriving at work on time, attending staff meetings, and contributing to a full teaching schedule five days per week. Volunteers normally work full school days, Monday through Friday. Depending on the school, teaching shifts may vary. Volunteers will use their time at school for either teaching or planning, but certain activities such as camps or community projects may take place before or after school, or on weekends.

Your work will focus on improving the English language skills of students and teachers and introducing new teaching techniques to teachers. You will cultivate other non-traditional learning events such as English clubs or other activities which promote the speaking of English before or after regular school hours. The Montenegrin school year runs from September through June with breaks around the end-of-year holidays. All Volunteers must adhere to the local school calendar and its holiday schedule as it relates to their primary role. During the summer, you will engage in locally prioritized projects in youth development by implementing activities in your community such as camps or other student-centered events.

Patience, flexibility and good humor will be essential, as all aspects of the program design, training, and operations are relatively new. During the first three months of training, you will receive instruction primarily in the Montenegrin language, with some survival Albanian for when you must travel to Albania for official Peace Corps business. You are expected to fully commit to learning and practicing language skills, as language is an essential element of successful Volunteer service.

Beyond the classroom, you will work towards Peace Corps goals two and three by living and spending time in your Montenegrin community with your host family and community partners. These goals are of great significance to Peace Corps’ work in Montenegro, especially when considering the United States’ complicated role in the Balkans during the 1990s. Earning the trust of the Montenegrin people will be critical to your success as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

Required skills

Competitive candidates will meet one or more of the following criteria:

• Bachelor of Arts / Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline

AND

• Strong desire to work with, develop, and coach youth

Desired skills

Highly competitive candidates will possess the following skills, experience and one of the education qualifications:

• Bachelor or MA/MS Degree in Education, English, TEFL or TESOL
• Experience in teaching, co-teaching or tutoring English or a foreign language; or experience in literacy tutoring with primary, middle, high school or adult students
• Experience organizing extracurricular activities
• Education or background experience in Early Childhood Education
• Experience leading or co-leading professional development workshops for teachers on the topics of curriculum development, assessments and editing
• Ability to navigate challenging and ambiguous situations, including a willingness to fail and share these failures to help organizational and individual learning

Required language skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position. Pre-Service Training (PST) will focus on language and cross-cultural adaptation. Montenegrin and Albanian are challenging languages. Your language training will focus on developing your competency as a communicator, not grammar skills. Language acquisition is difficult and will consume a substantial part of your time and energy during training.

During PST, your language learning will focus on Montenegrin, but you will learn the basics of Albanian as well, as you will have to occasionally travel to Albania for trainings, medical checkups and administrative appointments. Some Volunteers will be placed in Albanian minority communities where Albanian is predominantly spoken. These Volunteers will be provided with additional language training in Albanian. Still, it is good to know that the majority of Montenegrin Albanians are fluent in Montenegrin as well. PST will give you the basis for continuing to develop your language skills during service.
Following PST, all Volunteers are required to retain a tutor for the initial 6 months of service to strengthen conversational learning of the language. The amount of time and energy that you invest in your language acquisition will pay off in terms of your integration at site and your successful service.

Living conditions

While Montenegro has a growing tourist economy along the coast, Volunteers will be placed in under-served communities with the greatest need. Volunteer sites are likely to be off the main roads in small communities (as few as 200 residents or up to 11,000 residents) with access to fewer resources than coastal cities or the capital. Transportation options in and out of your community may be limited, therefore it may not be easy to travel from community to community. Moreover, you may live up to 45-50 minutes walking distance from your assigned workplace, therefore you should plan to arrive at your work site in a timely manner. While both your site and housing will meet Peace Corps health, safety and security requirements, housing will differ depending on local conditions and will vary from Volunteer to Volunteer.
All Volunteers in Montenegro will live with host families during their initial pre-service training and for six months at a minimum during their service. Some Volunteers may potentially live with a host family for their entire 27-month service. Living arrangements will be in modest living quarters. While you will have your own room, you will have less privacy than what you are used to due to societal norms for communal activities. Kitchen facilities and bathrooms will be shared with host families. Electricity and running water may not be consistently available at times, and in some cases internet access, besides internet on your mobile phone, may not be available within your host family’s home.

Cigarette-smoking indoors and outdoors is very common in Montenegro, similar to other Balkan and European countries. In addition to cigarette smoking, there can be heavy amounts of smoke from coal-burning and woodstoves for heating during the winter. The air quality may be further affected by the burning of trash.
As an agency, Peace Corps is committed to creating a supportive and inclusive environment for staff and Volunteers. Community members may have preconceived notions on how all Americans should look or behave, and may be unaware of the rich diversity in the U.S. In your community, you should anticipate attention and curiosity about visible and non-visible diversities. While this attention is not typically ill-intentioned, it can be challenging to navigate at times. Peace Corps has experience in working with diverse Volunteers in the Balkans, and the staff in Albania and Montenegro will work with Volunteers to further understand how this affects them in Montenegro. Host Families undergo training on a range of safety, security, health, and cultural topics to prepare them to effectively host a Volunteer.

Volunteers are not permitted to take leave during Pre-Service Training, as well as during their first 3 months and last 3 months in their community.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Montenegro: 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

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