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

Increase English Language Skills of Students for Professional Success

Activity/project background

Partner: Instituto Tecnológico Superior del Oriente del Estado de Hidalgo (ITESA) (Government)

Instituto Tecnológico Superior del Oriente del Estado de Hidalgo (ITESA) is a public university located outside the small city of Apan (39,247 population) in the state of Hidalgo, Mexico. It offers eight engineering degrees, two bachelor’s degrees, and two master’s degrees.

Every year, approximately 300 engineering and undergraduate students prepare to graduate and pursue competitive job opportunities in and out of the state. However, many of them have challenges reaching the level of English required by the institution to graduate (B1 or 460 points in TOEFL), which represents a significant academic and professional barrier.

Since November of 2023, a two-year TEFL Volunteer has been collaborating with ITESA. They have been co-teaching English and designing and facilitating trainings for both the ESL and content-area teachers to support institutional efforts to use English as a medium of instruction.

ITESA is requesting two Virtual Service Pilot Participants (VSPP) to offer students an opportunity to practice their communication skills thus supporting students to prepare to take the TOEFL exam.

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.

Engagement and tasks

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

• Prepare and co-facilitate listening and reading comprehension practice sessions
• Provide tools and exercises to support students’ TOEFL exam preparation
• Co-create a digital portfolio of materials and resources focused on developing communicative skills and on preparation for English language testing
• Co-facilitate small group tutoring sessions
• Participate in weekly or biweekly planning and follow-up meetings with counterpart

VSPPs are expected to engage on the tasks listed above for an estimated 5-15 hours per week. This engagement is estimated to be 10-15 hours per week, of which approximately 4 hours will be in online collaboration and tutoring sessions.

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

The Host Country Counterpart will have access to Internet and video conference platforms such as 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: Bachelors degree in any field

Experience: 1 year of TEFL/TESOL teaching experience in the U.S.A. or abroad

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 education or a STEM field

Language: Intermediate Spanish

Experience:
• Experience with virtual engagement and communication
• 3 years of TEFL/TESOL teaching experience in the U.S.A. or abroad
• Experience with TOEFL exam preparation

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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