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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

Empower Youth with Special Educational Needs for Future Careers

Activity/project background

Partner: Inclusive Resource Center of Voznesensk City Council (Government)

The Inclusive Resource Center of the Voznesensk City Council in Ukraine is dedicated to safeguarding the educational rights of individuals aged 0 to 26 who have special educational needs. These needs primarily encompass speech disorders, autism spectrum disorders, cognitive and emotional-volitional disorders, and disorders of the musculoskeletal system. The center serves individuals from both the Voznesensk local community and neighboring rural communities, such as Veselynove and Prybuzhany.

During the war, youth with special educational needs face heightened vulnerability due to the lack of targeted assistance aimed at nurturing their future career and life trajectories. As the online job market rapidly expands, numerous employment opportunities emerge for these individuals. Nevertheless, there's a risk of youth with special needs missing out on these prospects due to the absence of educational programs designed to facilitate their transition into sustainable employment.

Therefore, the Inclusive Resource Center of Voznesensk City Council is seeking assistance from a Virtual Service Pilot Participant (VSPP) to co-facilitate an English-speaking club where youth with special educational needs can enhance their English proficiency, explore various modern professions, and develop competencies essential for success in the job market. Collaborating with the VSPP, participants will learn how to assess their interests and values, aiding them in identifying potential career paths. The club's curriculum will encompass practical skills such as resume writing, interviewing techniques, and networking, which will equip participants for internships and other work-based learning experiences.

The organization has previously collaborated with the Peace Corps. They understand that the role of a VSPP is very different than a two-year Volunteer. Peace Corps Ukraine is seeking a VSPP who is empathetic to the lived experiences of internally displaced adults and students with special education needs.

Engagement and tasks

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

• Co-assess participants’ current knowledge and skill level to establish priority topics for club sessions
• Co-design a resource pack of at least 12 session plans on topics related to professional growth and career achievement
• Co-facilitate a 1.5-2-hour online English club session each week for an average group of 40 students. the group of people (the average number of students is 40)
• Guide club participants in preparing for at least one peer-to-peer session with other people in the center that will disseminate information and share knowledge in the areas of professional growth and career planning
• Attend a weekly meeting with the Ukrainian counterpart for feedback and discussion

VSPPs are expected to engage on the tasks listed above for an estimated 5-15 hours per week. This engagement is estimated to be around 5 hours per week.

Online collaboration will generally occur between 4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. Kyiv time. Specific times will be determined during orientation.

The Host Country Counterpart will have access to Zoom, Google Meet, and WhatsApp for regular 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:
• 1 year of experience in special education classrooms or residential homes with persons who are disabled, handicapped, hearing/visually impaired or related experience
• Experience in teaching, tutoring, or mentoring (in any educational institutions, youth clubs, etc.)

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: Bachelor's degree in special education and/or special education teacher certification

Experience:
• Experience with virtual engagement and communication
• Experience in working with youth with special educational needs such as speech disorders, autism spectrum disorders, cognitive and emotional-volitional disorders, disorders of the musculoskeletal system
• Experience in coaching, guiding and/or mentoring youth with special needs on career planning
• Experience designing session plans and engaging activities for youth online

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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