Training in Mali
Training is an essential part of Peace Corps service. The goal of the eleven-week program is to give you the skills and information you need to live and work effectively in Mali. In doing that, we build upon the experiences and expertise you bring to the Peace Corps. The program also gives you the opportunity to practice new skills as they apply to your work in Mali. We anticipate that you will approach training with an open mind, a desire to learn, and a willingness to become involved. Trainees officially become Volunteers only after successful completion of training.
You will receive training and orientation in components of language, cross-cultural communication, development issues, health and personal safety, and technical skills pertinent to your specific assignment. The skills you learn will serve as the foundation upon which you build your experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer.
Upon arrival in Mali, you will go to Toubaniso, the Peace Corps training center about half an hour outside of Bamako. After a brief orientation period, you will move into a host village within an hour of the training center. In the host village, you and other trainees (about 15 to a village) will live with a Malian host family for the majority of your training period, allowing you to gain hands-on experience in some of the new skills you are expected to acquire.
Training combines structured classroom study and independent study, with the maximum possible number of training hours spent out of the classroom. At the beginning of training, the training staff outlines the goals that each trainee must achieve before becoming a Volunteer and the assessment criteria that will be used to evaluate progress toward those goals. Evaluation of your performance during training is a continual process of dialogue between you and the training staff. After successful completion of pre-service training, you will be sworn in as a Volunteer and make final preparations for departure to your site.
Technical training will prepare you to work in Mali by building on the skills you already have and by helping you develop new skills in a manner appropriate to the needs of the country. The Peace Corps staff, Malian experts, and current Volunteers will conduct the training program. Training places great emphasis on learning how to transfer the skills you have to the community in which you will serve as a Volunteer.
Technical training will include sessions on the general economic and political environment in Mali and strategies for working within such a framework. You will review your technical sector’s goals and will meet with the Malian agencies and organizations that invited the Peace Corps to assist them. You will be supported and evaluated throughout the training to build the confidence and skills you need to undertake your project activities and be a productive member of your community.
As a Peace Corps Volunteer, you will find that language skills are the key to personal and professional satisfaction during your service. These skills are critical to your job performance, they help you integrate into your community, and they can ease your personal adaptation to the new surroundings. Therefore, language training is the heart of the training program, and you must successfully meet minimum language requirements to complete training and become a Volunteer.
Trainees initially focus on French and generally move on to study a local language once they have achieved the required level of French. Malian language instructors teach formal language classes five days a week in small groups of four to five people.
Your language training will incorporate a community-based approach. In addition to classroom time, you will be given assignments to work on outside of the classroom and with your host family. The goal is to get you to a point of basic social communication skills so that you can practice and develop language skills further on your own. Prior to being sworn in as a Volunteer, you will work on strategies to continue language studies during your service.
The experience of living with a Malian host family is designed to ease your transition to life at your site. Families go through an orientation conducted by Peace Corps staff to explain the purpose of pre-service training and to assist them in helping you adapt to living in Mali. Many Volunteers form strong and lasting friendships with their training host families.
Cross-cultural and community development training will help you improve your communication skills and understand your role as a facilitator of development. You will be exposed to topics such as community mobilization, conflict resolution, gender and development, nonformal and adult education strategies, and political structures.
During pre-service training, you will be given basic medical training and information. You will be expected to practice preventive healthcare and to take responsibility for your own health by adhering to all medical policies. Trainees are required to attend all medical sessions. The topics include preventive health measures and minor and major medical issues that you might encounter while in Mali. Nutrition, mental health, safety and security, setting up a safe living compound, and how to avoid HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDS) are also covered.
During the safety training sessions, you will learn how to adopt a lifestyle that reduces your risks at home, at work, and during your travels. You will also learn appropriate, effective strategies for coping with unwanted attention and about your individual responsibility for promoting safety throughout your service.
Additional Trainings During Volunteer Service
In its commitment to institutionalize quality training, the Peace Corps has implemented a training system that provides Volunteers with continual opportunities to examine their commitment to Peace Corps service while increasing their technical and cross-cultural skills. The titles and objectives for those trainings are as follows:
- In-service training: Provides opportunities for Volunteers to upgrade their technical, language, and project development skills while sharing their experiences and reaffirming their commitment after having served for three to six months.
- Close of service conference: Prepares Volunteers for the future after Peace Corps service and reviews their respective projects and personal experiences. The number, length, and design of these trainings are adapted to country-specific needs and conditions. The key to the training system is that training events are integrated and interrelated, from the pre-departure orientation through the end of your service, and are planned, implemented, and evaluated cooperatively by the training staff, Peace Corps staff, and Volunteers.