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Urban Youth Development Volunteer

Project description

Peace Corps Belize is proud to celebrate our 61st year of providing support and resources through grassroots volunteer assignments in Belize. More than 2,100 Peace Corps Volunteers have served in Belize since the program began in 1962, and we continue to work shoulder-to-shoulder with our Belizean host agencies, communities, and counterparts in the spirit of promoting world peace and friendship.

Belize is one of the most culturally diverse countries in Central America. Peace Corps Volunteers (hereafter, Volunteer) will have the unique opportunity to learn about and interact with people from a wide variety of backgrounds and ethnic groups. Belize is also home to incredible flora, fauna, land, and seascapes. While Volunteers will certainly have the opportunity to experience the natural wonder Belize has to offer, Volunteers will maintain focus on community integration for their entire service and meet the Youth Empowered by Sports (YES) Project objectives in schools and through relevant community-based activities.

Volunteers in the Belize Youth and Sports Development Coordinator program are dedicated, competent, responsible, respectful, and motivated professionals. As such, we have enjoyed a high level of community, counterpart, and government support. Those individuals willing to commit to the project and Peace Corps’ Core Expectations and Approach to Development—by dedicating time, effort, and energy to their service—will ultimately be successful throughout their time in Belize.

Peace Corps Belize's Youth Empowered by Sports (YES) Project has one goal: Belizean youth lead healthy and empowered lives and are enabled to realize their full potential. Volunteers will work with National Sports Council (NSC) Coordinators, teachers, and parents to build an afterschool sports club program at primary schools, enhance physical education in schools, engage parents to reinforce youth physical and mental resilience, and strengthen the organizational capacity of NSC District Offices to manage and sustain active youth sports that incorporate life skills programming. Working relationships with counterparts often become the foundation for success in achieving the objectives of the YES Project. Over the years, Peace Corps’ approach to development has shown proven impacts on the lives of community members.

In addition, Youth and Sports Development Volunteers will be trained to engage youth in opportunities for climate action, such as volunteerism or service-learning activities that contribute to Global Youth Service Day, Earth Day, or International Youth Day.
Activities a Volunteer may engage in include:

Strengthen the life skills of youth:
• Co-plan and co-facilitate gender equitable programming incorporating life skills development via youth sports clubs, sports camps, and/or physical education.

Increase the skills of youth service providers:
• Co-plan youth programs with youth service providers.
• Co-train youth service providers in the implementation of positive youth development activities and life skills.
• Co-train and guide organization members on the application of organizational development skills and knowledge (e.g., strategic planning, governance, communications, administration).

Increase the ability of parents and caregivers to support their children:
• Co-train families/caregivers/community groups on key topics to support youth development.
• Co-create strategies to increase and/or deepen families’ and/or caregivers’ positive engagement with their children.

Required skills

Competitive candidates will have an expressed interest in working directly with adolescents (10-14) and youth (15-24) and one or more of the following criteria:

• Master's degree in Social Work, Psychology, Education, Youth Development, Applied Behavioral Science or related field
OR
• Bachelor's degree in Social Work, Social Studies, Psychology, Education, Youth Development, Applied Behavioral Science or other related field and at least 3 months of experience working with youth and/or families
OR
• 3 years of professional experience working with youth and/or families, preferably from under-resourced communities

Desired skills

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

• A degree in Social Science, Education-Physical Education, Youth/Community Development, Sports Coaching or Sports Management.
• Professional experience in working with adults to educate and train youth on topics such as: healthy lifestyles; physical education; athletic training; gender equality; youth life skills; or parent engagement.
• Experience playing or coaching football (soccer), basketball, volleyball, track & field, or softball professionally, at the collegiate level or through intramural sports.
• Experience working in underserved communities with limited resources.
• Experience utilizing and designing course content on web-based learning platform.
• Experience as a trainer in facilitating the exchange of knowledge and skills to adults.
• Experience working with youth ages 10 to 14, preferably in schools clubs, summer camps or after school programs.

Required language skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position. Although Belize is a small country, it has a rich and diverse ethnic, cultural, and language environment. Trainees will be trained in one of two local languages: Kriol or Spanish.

Volunteers should be flexible and open to learning any one of the two languages required for training and integration into their assigned work communities. Trainees and Volunteers will be tested at intervals during Pre-Service Training (PST) and at specific intervals during their service. Trainees will be required to meet the established standards of the language(s) being taught during PST to be sworn in as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

Learning the local language is important and necessary to integrate and carry out youth development-related work assignments as a Volunteer. Language is also critical for personal safety and cultural integration purposes. Peace Corps Belize will support a Volunteer’s language acquisition throughout their service. Any prior Spanish knowledge and training can be a benefit but is not a requirement.

Living conditions

Volunteer Housing and Inter-Cultural Considerations:

Volunteers live with host families during the 10.5-week Pre-Service Training (PST). After swearing in, Volunteers may choose to live with host families for the duration of their 27-month service or participate in an independent living option after the first six months of living with a host family. Living with a host family can be a highlight of service, as it helps with cultural exchange and integration, language learning, and building trust in the community while also contributing to Volunteer safety and security. It is important to remember, however, that Belize has its own cultural and gender norms – so living with a host family will require an open mind, cultural sensitivity, patience, and great flexibility.

Upon arrival to assigned communities, Volunteers may find they are in the minority, if not the sole foreigner in their assigned community. Further, while Belize recently decriminalized homosexuality, it remains a conservative and religious country. Volunteers will need to be mindful of cultural norms and use their best judgment to determine if and how to approach topics related to sexual orientation and gender identity in their communities and with their counterparts. During Pre-Service Training, Volunteers will gain knowledge and skills to navigate these and other intercultural, diversity, and inclusion challenges they may encounter in service.

Diet:

During PST, Volunteers will adapt to eat meals provided by their host families (where medically necessary, host families will be asked to accommodate dietary restrictions). Common meals include rice & beans, chicken, tortillas (flour and corn), eggs, and soups. Volunteers who are vegan or vegetarian for non-medical reasons should give thought to how they might adapt to the dietary realities of their host communities. The onus is on Volunteers, rather than host families, to adapt to the local foods and dietary changes.

While at their community of service, Volunteers have the option to cook all their meals or make a meal arrangement that works best for the Volunteer and the host family. Volunteers will have access to fresh locally grown fruits and vegetables; and limited/costly access to imported food products. At points during service, Volunteers may encounter difficulties in maintaining a vegetarian diet due to the availability or cost of plant-based products.

Work:

Personal grooming and appearance are very important as a youth development professional. Volunteers will be expected to follow Peace Corps Belize’s attire and personal appearance policy on business casual dress in professional settings. Volunteers should be mindful that prominent tattoos and visible body piercings are less common in Belize. During PST, Peace Corps is available to provide guidance on strategies for dress and personal appearance, as well as conversations on these topics with members of their community or workplace.

Communications:

Peace Corps Belize encourages Volunteers to bring an unlocked personal device (smartphone with dual sim capability, if possible) for which Peace Corps will provide a SIM card from a local service provider with a calling and text plan and limited data for official purposes. Peace Corps will provide a basic smartphone for those unable to bring a personal device. The most common form of communication between Volunteers and their friends and family is by cell phone and free calling and text apps, such as WhatsApp, Viber, etc.

Climate:

Across the year, temperatures range from the low 70s to mid-80s with approximately 80 percent humidity across the year. Volunteers will need mitigation strategies to manage the extreme heat since their project work activities are tied to sports.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Belize: 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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