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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

Support Development of University Faculty’s English Language Skills

Activity/project background

Partner: Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Hidalgo (Government)

Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Hidalgo (UAEH), an internationally recognized higher education institution in Mexico, designed a Comprehensive Academic Transformation Project (PITA) as a strategy to achieve its goals. PITA focuses primarily on 1) comprehensive education for students; 2) continued professional development and pedagogical training for faculty members; 3) permanent updating of the curricula; and 4) enhancement of graduate and research programs.

In alignment with PITA, the Academic Improvement Department (DiSA for its acronym in Spanish) created an English language program specifically designed to enhance the communicative competencies of the University’s professors and researchers, enabling them to teach their subjects in English, thereby contributing to the internationalization of students’ learning experiences and enhancing the position of their research within the global academic community. Therefore, academic staff, professors, and researchers are required to obtain a C1 English level according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).

UAEH is requesting a Virtual Service Participant (VSPP) with experience in language teaching to collaborate with DiSA’s staff to support the English program and to contribute to the advancement of English-language communicative and intercultural competencies of UAEH’s academic staff. Through their relationship with the VSPP, academic staff will increase their interaction with native English speakers thus improving their oral communicative competencies in different social and cultural contexts. This engagement will also reinforce or develop academic staff’s multicultural competency through intercultural exchanges.

Faculty participating in the English language program are placed in small groups based on their language level (Basic, Intermediate, and/or Advanced). The program includes regular classroom time and workshops scheduled in advance each semester. In response to the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, classes, and workshops are now in a blended or online format.

UAEH has previously worked with Peace Corps Response Volunteers and understands that the role of a VSPP is very different from that of a two-year Volunteer.

Engagement and tasks

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

• Co-teach one advanced C1 English course to academic staff from different fields of knowledge, having 2 hours of weekly online meetings with group participants and 1-3 hours for planning, following up, and giving feedback
• Provide 1-3 hours of weekly Garza Talks (Conversation sessions) related to academic, international, or global trendy topics to strengthen the communicative skills of the academic staff
• Participate in weekly or biweekly planning and follow-up meetings with counterparts

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 hours per week of which approximately 5 hours are anticipated to be online teaching.

Online collaboration will generally occur between 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. Mexico City time. Specific times will be determined during orientation.

The Host Country Counterpart will have access to email, WhatsApp, and video conference applications such as Zoom, Webex, or Google Meet 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 education, English, linguistics, or related field OR relevant certification: TEFL, TESOL, Cambridge, or similar

Experience: 2 years of experience in TEFL/English teaching to university students 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

Experience:
• Experience with virtual engagement and communication
• 2 years of teaching English at the graduate level
• Training in TEFL
• Effective communicative skills to lead conversation groups, workshops, or webinars

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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