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English Literacy Educator

Project description

The Samoan Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture (MESC) is eager to work with the Peace Corps to promote English literacy teaching and learning in primary schools. The Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture (MESC) has requested the assistance of the Peace Corps to help reach this goal. Peace Corps Samoa is focused on the long-term sustainability and impact of Volunteer projects. Samoa follows a six-year project cycle in each school and community, starting with a 1st generation (Gen) Volunteer and ending with a 3rd generation Volunteer. Individual tasks and assignments will depend on the generation and community of the Volunteer which are assigned at Pre-Service Training. As a result of the Global COVID-19 pandemic, all Volunteers in Samoa are currently first-generation Volunteers.

First-Gen Volunteers set the groundwork of the project for schools and communities, working with small pull-out groups in years 4, 5 & 6 their first year, and co-teaching in their 2nd year of service. The 1st Gen Volunteer recommends teachers with whom the 2nd Gen PCV can work.

Second-Gen Volunteers will pick up where the previous Volunteer left off - working with years 4, 5 & 6, continuing established secondary projects, and working closely with schoolteachers to build capacity through co-teaching and professional development training.

Third-Gen Volunteers will start co-teaching and community outreach programs at the beginning of service in addition to small pull-out groups. They are also tasked with closing out all Peace Corps driven projects in the community, and ensuring teachers and community members are identified and equipped to continue programs.

Volunteers also work with counterparts to develop libraries and introducing different systems of arranging books, create before and after school reading programs, and, in some cases, teach computer skills. Finally, Volunteers and their counterparts engage parents and other community members in English literacy by initiating family literacy activities and inviting parents to school-based events.

Volunteers will be serving in a Peace Corps country that is participating in initiatives promoting gender awareness, girls’ and boys' education, and leadership empowerment. Volunteers receive in-depth training on incorporating methods of gender analysis into community assessment and development efforts. Volunteers are encouraged to find culturally appropriate ways to incorporate gender awareness into their work. Peace Corps Samoa is the first to have GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) clubs in schools that are co-run by Volunteers and local counterparts. In addition, GLOW clubs are managed by a board composed of PCVs and prominent Samoan women leaders. Prior to the global evacuation of Volunteers, we had more than 20 Primary Schools with active GLOW clubs and 5 primary schools with BUILD (Boys United In Leadership Development) clubs that met weekly. These clubs were supported by the local communities and schools, as well as our main partner agency, MESC.

Required skills

Qualified candidates will have a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline and a strong desire to teach English

Desired skills

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

• 3 months, 10 hours/month, or 30 hours of English, foreign language, or literacy tutoring experience with primary, middle, or high school students or adults.
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in Pre-school, Early Childhood, Middle School, or Elementary Education
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline with Elementary Education state certification
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline with one or more school year classroom teaching experience at the Early Childhood, Middle School, or Elementary level. Full time Montessori teaching experience is also acceptable
• Experience teaching literacy, especially at the primary school level
• Experience working with teachers and students and the ability to develop strong working relationships with teachers, students, parents and community members
• Experience and interest in developing extra-curricular activities to promote English language capacity and strengthen skill building for students and teachers
• Experience and interest in developing projects that promote gender equity
• Experience working with limited resources

Required language skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position. Peace Corps Samoa Invitees will receive a brief introduction to the Samoan language in the pre-departure course and receive in-depth language training during Pre-Service Training. While you will be teaching in English, speaking Samoan is an important means of integrating into your community. Volunteers will need an understanding of Samoan to follow staff meetings and discussions. Even if principals and teachers speak English, most of them prefer to use Samoan in meetings, and most staff meetings will be conducted in Samoan. Many villagers do not speak English fluently. In addition, language is a key to culture. Showing you are making an effort to learn the language both demonstrates respect to individuals and helps earn respect in your community.

Living conditions

Samoa is an island nation of about 200,000 people. Reefs fringe the shores and there are mountains in the center of the two main islands. Most Volunteers do not live on the ocean, but it is never far away. Samoa is hot and humid with two main seasons – rainy and dry. The country’s small size also means Volunteers’ travel and activities are scrutinized by community members. Living in a “fishbowl” environment can be challenging. Volunteers who are committed to their community integration and their work can build meaningful relationships in their communities and have a successful service. Integration into a community will help mitigate the attention Volunteers experience, create trust, and help the Volunteer and the community have an enriched, memorable experience.

Clothing

Personal appearance is important to Samoans. During Pre-Service Training (PST), the dress code is business casual. Women are expected to wear a wraparound “lavalava” or an ankle length skirt and top with sleeves, or an ankle length dress. Men can wear a wraparound lavalava and shirt with sleeves. Dressing appropriately after PST will help Volunteers gain respect in your community, facilitate integration, and increase your credibility and effectiveness.

Housing/Transportation

Volunteers live with host families during both the 10 weeks of PST and the two years of service. Volunteers live in a room in a family’s house. Transportation to and from the villages is usually by bus. Within the village, Volunteers get around on foot or bicycle.

Food/Diet

The diet in Samoa consists primarily of taro, breadfruit, yams, potatoes, rice, canned corned beef, fish, chicken soup, taro leaves, some fresh vegetables, fresh fruit and limited fresh meat. Vegetarians can fare well in Samoa with patience and creativity. For strict vegans, it’s harder, but doable.

Connectivity

While internet is becoming more widely available throughout the country, access is still expensive and may be limited by location and cost. Peace Corps Samoa does not provide Volunteers with a cell phone or data. Volunteers may bring an unlocked phone from the US or buy one in country. Most Volunteers also bring a computer to use in Samoa. It is the Volunteer’s responsibility to maintain and insure electronics that they bring.

Culture/Religion

Samoa is culturally Polynesian and the majority of Samoans are Christian. Religion plays a strong role in village and community life. Most Volunteers attend church at least once a week, regardless of their own beliefs as a way of integrating into the community and participating in village life.

Diversity & Inclusion

Through inclusive recruitment and retention of staff and Volunteers, the Peace Corps seeks to reflect the rich diversity of the United States and bring diverse perspectives and solutions to development issues. Ensuring diversity among staff and Volunteers enriches interpersonal relations and communications for the staff work environment, the Volunteer experience, and the communities in which Volunteers serve. Our definition of diversity includes, but is not limited to, race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, religion, education, ability, and more.

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 experience a high degree of curiosity or unwanted attention. Please be aware that American concepts of politeness and appropriate behavior are not universal. Ethnically, nationally, or racially diverse Americans may be asked where they are “actually from” or if they are “really” American. Many Volunteers have been able to turn these encounters into learning experiences, sharing American values and deepening local community members’ understanding of Americans.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Samoa: 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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