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Youth in Development Volunteer

Project description

Armenia has undergone significant political, social, and economic changes following the collapse of the Soviet Union. This transition has brought forth immense potential for the country. Nevertheless, the youth in Armenia encounter various obstacles hindering their progress and active involvement in the nation's civic affairs. Disparities in socioeconomic status between different regions, particularly between the capital city of Yerevan and other areas, pose a significant challenge. Moreover, many young individuals lack access to quality education, informal learning environments, avenues for civic education and engagement, as well as adequate preparation for entering the workforce. This deficiency encompasses a shortage of career guidance, volunteer opportunities, training in essential job skills, and internships crucial for entering the job market.

Furthermore, recent developments in Artsakh, coupled with the influx of over 100,000 forcibly displaced individuals, have created an urgent need to offer support to these communities. The focus is on ensuring that youth from Artsakh can coexist harmoniously and work together cohesively for mutual benefit and progress.

Youth in Development (YD) Volunteers serve primarily in non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and community-based partners, such as schools, special education programs and informal youth groups, in cities and towns outside of Yerevan. Working directly with youth ages 10-17, Volunteers support young people as they build the knowledge and skills necessary to become healthy, productive, and civically engaged members of society. Volunteers organize and lead youth clubs and camps, teach life skills in formal and informal settings, and coach and mentor young people on job readiness and career and employment opportunities.

In addition, they share transferable skills with host country youth service providers as they support positive youth development. The youth Volunteers work with are both a beneficiary and a partner in realizing their own social, economic, and civic potential. Underlying the positive youth development approach is the foundational belief that youth are assets in their communities and central to solving problems in their lives.

Community integration is an indispensable part of a Volunteer’s work. In order to be successful in service, Volunteers must be accepted by their communities. The responsibility of integration rests on Volunteers and host communities, which is facilitated by continually learning the Armenian language. During Pre-Service Training, Peace Corps Armenia provides tools and strategies for Volunteers to enhance their community integration and language acquisition. By devoting attention to community integration and language learning, Volunteers lay the groundwork for their future community work.

Required skills

Qualified candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any field and a strong interest in working with young people aged 10-17
• 5 years' professional work experience and a strong interest in working with young people aged 10-17

Desired skills

• Experience teaching and/or coaching youth in life skills, leadership, and/or employment readiness
• Recent experience working or volunteering with youth in camps, clubs, sports, volunteerism, service-learning, community service project planning and implementation, or other areas of non-formal education
• Experience working in, or a strong understanding of, the non-profit/NGO sector
• Experience with community-based program development, including knowledge in needs assessment, strategic planning, project planning, and/or community outreach
• Bachelor’s degree in Social Work

Required language skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position. Armenian is a phonetic language with a unique 39-letter alphabet in the Indo-European language family. Invitees must be motivated and ready to dedicate themselves to learning a complex language that is not widely spoken outside of Armenia. Trainees receive 11 weeks of small group Armenian language training during Pre-Service Training (PST) and must attain a Novice High level at the end of PST in order to serve as a Volunteer. In an effort to facilitate language learning, invitees participate in a six-week online/Skype course before arrival in-country, and an eight-week post-PST course. Please note: If invitees choose to study Armenian before arrival, they should study Eastern Armenian.

Living conditions

Armenia is a small, mountainous country in the Caucasus region, bordered by Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Iran. Its history includes the creation of the Armenian alphabet in 405 AD and being the first state in the world to adopt Christianity as its official religion. Armenia’s countryside features the ruins of churches, monasteries and graveyards dating to the early Middle Ages. Its history has been shaped by Byzantine, Persian, Islamic, Ottoman and Russian forces. Armenia gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, and established a multi-party, democratic Republic.

Armenia has a diverse climate as the winter months (November to March) come with heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures followed by a beautiful spring. The summer months (June to September) can range from 100-degree temperatures every day in the south, to more mild weather in the central and northern parts of the country.

Volunteers are required to stay with host families during Pre-Service Training (PST) and for the first three months at site. The host family experience is a unique opportunity for Volunteers to fully immerse themselves in the Armenian language and culture and form important relationships in the community. Many Volunteers choose to live with their host families for the entirety of their service although they may move to independent housing, if available, after the mandatory host family stay. Please note that independent housing is not available in all communities, and all Volunteers should be prepared to stay with a host family during their full two years of service, if necessary.

Armenia is, in many ways, a traditional and homogenous society. Despite limited exposure to foreigners, host families and counterparts are accepting of diversity among Volunteers. Peace Corps Volunteers often form life-long relationships with members of their local community. However, Volunteers who do not resemble the Armenian profile, particularly people of color, may receive additional unwanted and sometimes negative attention from strangers in the larger community. Many Volunteers have been able to turn these encounters into learning experiences, sharing American values, and deepening local community members’ understanding of Americans. The majority of Armenians are not accepting of members of the LGBTQ+ community so it is safest not to share this information with Armenian colleagues, family, and friends. Peace Corps Armenia’s pre-departure materials and Pre-Service Training will address these types of concerns to prepare Volunteers for service. The Peace Corps office serves as a safe space for Volunteers to share their experiences with staff and fellow Volunteers.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Armenia: 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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