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Peace Corps Volunteer
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

Facilitate Academic Writing Skills Sessions for University Teachers

Activity/project background

Partner: 1. Samara University, 2. Dilla College of Education, 3. Dilla University, 4. Arba Minch University 5. Hawassa College of Education, 6. Jinka University (Government)

Universities in Ethiopia require their instructors and research staff, as one of their roles in academia, to publish articles in reputable journals and for this, detailed and concise academic writing skills are essential. There are few seasoned and experienced instructors with frequent publication experience, however the majority of young academic staff have limited practice and experience with publication. It is believed that one reason for not publishing more could be limited experience with academic writing for journal publication in their fields of study.

This engagement features six (6) universities who are seeking six (6) Virtual Service Pilot Participants (VSPPs) to support instructors with academic writing to help them publish their research articles in journals with high standards. Participating instructors have studied English at different educational levels but have insufficient practice with academic writing in English. VSPPs will be assigned to collaborate with a counterpart at one of the partner institutions to enhance their knowledge and skills in academic writing. They will do this through exposure to the practice and applicable steps of academic writing, as well as though participation in a learning community in which participants of the program will share experiences and learn from each other. Each VSPP will support 15 to 20 university-level instructors, many of whom will be working, or who have recently worked, on an active research project.

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

Some participating universities have 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:

• Consult with post staff and counterparts in the selection and design of learning tasks/activities
• Co-facilitate a 1.5-hour academic writing session twice a week (frequency to be determined); VSPP will offer guidance on writing, revising, and editing during this session
• Review participants’ writing for review and provide constructive feedback
• Hold one-on-one writing consultation, when necessary
• Track activities and report bi-weekly to the program manager or post staff assigned for this purpose

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 Host Country Counterpart will have access to Zoom, WhatsApp, and email 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: Master’s degree in any field

• 2 years of experience teaching or tutoring academic writing at the university level
• Experience with adult facilitation

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 Education or TEFL/TESOL/ESL

• Experience with virtual engagement and communication
• Experience teaching English to non-native learners
• Experience publishing articles in reputable journals
• Experience teaching capstone courses to master’s level students

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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