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

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Virtual Service Pilot

Co-teach Writing Skills Improvement Sessions for University Teachers

Activity/project background

Partner: Jigjiga University (Government)

Established in March 2007 in the town of Jigjiga, Somali Regional State, Jigjiga University, one of the second-generation universities, started service with 712 students, 66 lecturers, and 99 administrative staff in three faculties. Its intake capacity has increased recently, and now it has a total of 21,554 students enrolled in 57 various academic programs. There are also 627 post-graduate students pursuing their studies in six academic programs that are operating under eight colleges, three schools, and one institute. The English Language Improvement Center (ELIC), which is housed in the English Language and Literature department, is serving students, academic, and administrative staff by providing language proficiency trainings. Recently, language-oriented induction trainings were provided for newly employed teachers followed by another skills training to more than 50 freshmen students using level-based curriculum called Headway.

Despite efforts being made, there is still a need when it comes to teachers’ ability in writing. It was highlighted during recent discussions that there are areas of opportunity to strengthen instructors’ writing skills related to structure, thought development and comprehension, and improved readability. Therefore, the university is requesting a Virtual Service Pilot Participant (VSPP) to provide support on improving teachers’ writing skills featuring different forms or styles of writing (expository, descriptive, argumentative, and narrative). The university believes that a VSPP could contribute significantly to improving teachers’ skills and confidence in writing through group and individual-based support sessions. 15 English teachers will participate in this engagement.

The organization has not previously collaborated with the Peace Corps. 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:

• Co-conduct an initial assessment of 15 participants’ writing skills to determine their level of writing
• Co-design learning tasks and writing activities in consultation with post staff and counterparts
• Co-facilitate two weekly 1.5-hour writing sessions starting with basic concepts of writing and relevant samples
• Review participants’ writing and give appropriate constructive feedback
• Hold one-on-one writing consultation, when necessary
• Track activities and report bi-weekly to 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, including preparation.

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

• 1 year of experience teaching composition, English, or related writing-intensive course
• Experience teaching overseas or in a multicultural setting
• Experience working with adult learners

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 fine arts, English, creative writing, or related field

• 1 year of experience teaching composition, English, or related writing-intensive course at the university level
• Experience with virtual engagement and communication
• Experience working with non-native English speakers

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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