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2 years, 3 months
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Up to 12 months
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Virtual Service Pilot
3-6 months
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Virtual Service Pilot

Co-facilitate English Communication Skills for University Instructors

Activity/project background

Partner: 1. Arba Minch University, 2. Samara University, 3. Dilla College of Education, 4. Dilla University (Government)

By virtue of working in a university setting, instructors are generally expected to engage in productive endeavors in addition to classroom teaching. They are required to carry out, produce, and share research outcomes, participate in public and academic discussions, and engage in community development programs in collaboration with national and international partners. Without a doubt, they need to have good communication skills and a dependable level of English proficiency to successfully accomplish tasks in these areas. However, it has become clear through discussions held that English proficiency is not at its required level for effective and successful communication. Cognizant of this area of opportunity, the four (4) universities listed below have requested support from four (4) Virtual Service Pilot Participants (VSPPs).

Each VSPP will be partnered with a university to support the development of instructors’ oral communication skills with focus on strengthening their abilities to handle conversation on a variety of subjects and topics that trigger discussions on or related to current global affairs, philosophies and schools of thoughts, culture, history, lifestyles, economics, education, technology, anthropology, and more. Examples might include whether teachers are born or created, the impact of AI or ChatGPT in academic research and writing, news articles on sports and culture, issues of bio-piracy, cultural differences (power distances, individualism vs. collectivism, masculinity vs. femininity, indulgence vs. restraint, power distance, long- vs. short-term orientation, early marriage practices, teacher salaries, teachers as coaches, holidays, student behavior management, and more). These are potential areas but choice of topics for the sessions will be determined by both the VSPP and involved participants. Topics of interest will be chosen collaboratively for upcoming sessions, so participants come prepared to share opinions and converse.

VSPPs will collaborate with 15 instructors each, who are primarily English teachers. Through a variety of tasks and virtual practice sessions and lessons, instructors will develop stronger soft skills through improved communication and confidence to converse in English.

The four institutions include: Arba Minch University, Samara University, Dilla College of Education, and Dilla University. Details about each host institution will be shared during orientation sessions at the start of the engagement with Peace Corps Ethiopia staff.

Except Dilla college of Education, these institutions have not previously collaborated with the Peace Corps. However, they understand that the role of a VSPP is very different than a two-year Volunteer.

Engagement and tasks

The VSPP will engage in the following tasks, in collaboration with their Host Country Partners:

• Assess participants level of communication in English using appropriate means including discussions and presentation
• Co-design appropriate tasks that enhance identified communication and soft skills of participants. Soft skills are general skills that teachers (or employees in an institution) would need to be good at teamwork, interpersonal skills, communication, problem solving, etc.
• Co-facilitate 1.5-hour sessions 1-2 times per week (times and schedule will be determined during orientation)
• Guide participants to build confidence in public speaking and presentation
• Gauge progress consistently and provide constructive feedback
• Track activities and report bi-weekly to the Peace Corps Ethiopia Education Program Manager

VSPPs are expected to engage on the tasks listed above for an estimated 5-15 hours per week. However, this engagement is estimated to be 7 hours per week (3 hours online).

Online collaboration will generally occur between 3:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. Ethiopia time. Specific times will be determined during orientation.

The participants will have access to Zoom, WhatsApp, and email for regular sessions, communication, and collaboration.

Per the Child Protection Code of Conduct, when engaging online with minors (0-18), two adults must be present.

Optional additional activities

The Peace Corps mission is to promote world peace and friendship by fulfilling three goals:

  1. To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
  2. To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
  3. To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

Goal 1 will be achieved through the VSPP's engagement and completion of the above tasks. The counterpart and VSPP may also choose to identify an activity that aligns with Goal 2. Additionally, the VSPP may identify a Goal 3 activity to implement during their engagement. See recommendations and tools for Goal 3 activities.

Essential qualifications

Education: Bachelor’s degree in any field

Experience: 2 years of experience with TEFL/English teaching to or adults

Intercultural skills and motivation: Flexible, strong cross-cultural agility, high tolerance for ambiguity, able to work independently, resourceful, creative, and genuinely motivated and capable to serve virtually

Desired qualifications

Education: Master’s degree in English, TEFL OR relevant certification: TEFL, TESOL, Cambridge, or similar

• Experience in virtual engagement and communication
• Experience teaching or training teachers

Terms and conditions of engagement

VSPPs will be engaging with the host country partner, in coordination with Peace Corps post staff, remotely from the US. They should have access to a computer, internet, and telephone in order to enable direct engagement with the Peace Corps overseas office and the Host Country Counterpart assigned by the host country partner.

Orientation with the host country partner will be provided, within the designated virtual service hours, during the first week of virtual service via an online presentation and discussion. The host country partner will provide an overview of its organization, the local context, and how they envision collaborating with the VSPP.

The VSPP will have regular check-ins with their counterpart and bi-weekly check-ins with Peace Corps staff. Spending unstructured time with counterparts can be critical to relationship-building and is encouraged through activities such as coffee chats and informal calls within the weekly 5-15 hours.

Engagement safety and security

The VSPP will receive an orientation on Peace Corps’ Child Protection Policy and how it relates to online engagement along with IT security best practices. The VSPP will be expected to follow safety and security guidelines for online engagement to ensure their safety and that of the Host Country Partner and their counterpart, and any beneficiaries of the engagement.

Supervision requirements

The VSPP will report to a designated Peace Corps staff member. The VSPP will be expected to abide by the Virtual Service Pilot Participant and Donation Agreement and Participant Principles of Engagement. The VSPP will also be expected to check in with the designated host country counterpart as assigned by the host county partner.

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