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Youth Development Facilitator

Project description

Youth Development is a critical need in the Dominican Republic with one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the region, almost half of the population under the age of 25, and youth unemployment rates around 30%. As a Youth Development Facilitator in the Dominican Republic, you will contribute to national priorities by collaborating with local counterparts in guiding youth to transition into healthy, productive, civically engaged citizens and building the capacity of host country service providers, groups, and communities to prioritize positive youth development. The Youth Development project works in collaboration with local counterparts to reach youth 10 – 24-year-olds and adults by co-facilitating life skills, employability skills, and sexual and reproductive health education.

Volunteers and their counterparts encourage regular participation in clubs and mentor youth. Volunteers work in secondary schools (U.S. equivalent of 7th – 12th grades), Municipal Councils, and with the Provincial Offices of the Ministry of Women. Peace Corps Volunteers provide regular, consistent support to youth in underserved communities, working together with service providers and young people as a trusted friend and mentor. This daily contact and mentoring is Peace Corps’ niche Peace Corps Volunteers enhance existing school or community-based programs by building up local capacity to support youth development activities. In some cases, Volunteers support and coach counterparts to develop new programs that help empower young people and give them the opportunity to reach their full potential. These programs build skills, harness positive energy, encourage ambitions and healthy decision making, and urge youth to further their education, all providing sound bases for young peoples’ transition into healthy, productive, civically engaged adults, capable of intentional life planning.

Required skills

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

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

OR

• 5 years' professional work experience

Desired 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:

• Master’s degree in Social Work, Psychology, Education, Youth Development, Applied Behavioral Science or related field.
• 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.
• 3 years’ of professional experience working with youth and/or families, preferably from under-resourced communities.
• Experience with facilitation
• Experience training or teaching in an informal setting
• Experience working with parents and/or community leaders
• Experience forming and/or strengthening and motivating youth groups
• Experience volunteering or working with youth
• Academic background in psychology, anthropology, social work, or counseling
• Previous experience working with Spanish speaking populations

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). Competitive candidates will have conversational Spanish skills at the time they apply and will commit to continuing their language learning while awaiting departure. Peace Corps provides intensive language training during the 11 weeks of Pre-Service Training. At the end of training, Peace Corps Dominican Republic requires an intermediate-mid level of oral proficiency in order to be sworn in as a Volunteer. Trainees that arrive with conversational Spanish skills are likely to reach this level.

Living conditions

Volunteers will live with a host family during the 11-week Pre-Service Training in a community near Santo Domingo. Volunteers will live with a second host family for the first 4-6 months of service in their assigned community to facilitate language acquisition and community integration. Although most Volunteers are able to move out on their own after the obligatory 4- to 6-month homestay (in addition to the training homestays), there is no guarantee that independent housing will be available.

Volunteers are assigned to both rural communities and towns. Living conditions and transportation limitations can be physically demanding. Volunteers will have to use the available transportation in their assigned community. Generally, local transportation includes regular or semi-regular service by pick-up trucks, vans, and/or collective taxis. In some cases, Volunteers may have to walk long distances to work engagements. Houses usually have corrugated steel or cement roofs, walls of wood or cement block, and cement floors. They may or may not have amenities such as running water, electricity, or reliable cell service. Most communities have cell service within the community, however, there are situations where Volunteers have to travel up to an hour to access reliable service. Although most communities have electricity, power outages are common.

Personal appearance is important for Volunteers representing the Peace Corps and Dominican partner agencies, particularly the Dominican Ministry of Education. Dominicans consider personal appearance to be an important indicator about a person, and a Volunteer’s appearance will influence their relationship with the community. Volunteers are expected to dress to Dominican standards for teachers, which is at minimum a clean polo shirt, dress pants or skirt and closed toed shoes.

Peace Corps Dominican Republic provides support to a diverse group of Volunteers. Volunteers use their experiences as members of different underrepresented groups to support their peers as they may navigate social, cultural, political, religious, personal, and other challenges. Current support networks include the Diversity and Inclusion Board, the Marginalized Voices Support Group, and the Pride LGBTQ Support Group. Please see below for additional considerations.

Sexual Orientation: Intolerant attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community are still held by many people. The country has a Roman Catholic constitution, and a large portion of the population is either Catholic or Evangelical Christian. While same-sex relationships are not illegal in the Dominican Republic, many people reject homosexual relationships. However, LGBTQ Volunteers find safe spaces within the Peace Corps Dominican Republic network and when visiting larger metropolitan areas.

Ethnicity: Different ethnic, racial or national minority American identities are often not viewed as “American.” Volunteers may thus experience negation of their American identity due to local assumptions of what an American looks like. While some Black/African American Volunteers may blend in with the local Dominican population, others including those who choose to wear their hair in its natural state or braided hairstyles, or who have darker skin tones, may be perceived as Haitian. This may lead to one’s citizenship being questioned and ultimately differential treatment. Volunteers find support and representation within active Dominican natural hair movements in larger cities. Similarly, with an increased focus on migration issues around the world, Volunteers of Latin American decent may also have their identity questioned and/or mistaken for Central and South American migrants. Many Volunteers have been able to turn these encounters into learning experiences on the diversity of American culture and successfully complete their services with support from the Peace Corps Dominican Republic network and certain community members.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Dominican Republic: 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

The Dominican Republic is able to accommodate couples serving together within the Youth in Development sector as well as cross-sector couples. Your partner must qualify and apply for one of the following:

• Spanish Primary School Literacy Promoter
• Youth Development Facilitator

All Trainees are required to live with host families during Pre-Service Training. If you and your partner are assigned to different sectors, you will live apart for most of Pre-Service Training. Couples who are in different sectors are usually allowed to visit each other for two weekends during the training.

After swearing in, Volunteers are required to live with a host family in their assigned community for a minimum of 4 months. For couples, this requirement is reduced to 6 weeks.

The 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 couple 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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