Training in Fiji
Training is an essential part of your Peace Corps service. The goal is to provide you with the necessary support, information, and opportunities to acquire the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that will enable you to live and work effectively in Fiji. In doing so, we plan to build upon the experiences and expertise you bring to Peace Corps. We expect that you will approach your training with an open mind, a desire to learn, and a willingness to become involved. Peace Corps trainees officially become Peace Corps Volunteers after successfully completing training.
The 10-week pre-service training lets you learn new skills and practice them as they apply to Fiji. You will receive training and orientation in components of language, cross-cultural communication and adaptation, development issues, health and personal safety, and technical skills pertinent to your specific assignment. The skills you learn will serve as a foundation upon which you build your experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Fiji. You will have plenty of opportunities to experience local culture and customs on your own while living with your host family and during community-based training.
During the first few days of pre-service training, you will stay together at a central training facility where you will receive vaccinations and be introduced to basic language skills and to the cross-cultural adaptation process. After this initial period, you will shift to another training site to begin the next phase of training. During this phase, known as community-based training, the group will split up and live with host families in small villages. The host family experiences will help bring to life some of the topics covered in training and provide a chance to practice your new language skills and to observe and participate in Fijian culture. The host family experience is intense, but it can be one of the most rewarding aspects of your service in country.
The training goals and assessment criteria that each trainee has to reach before becoming a Volunteer will be clearly articulated at the beginning of training. Evaluation of your performance during training is a continual process, characterized by a dialogue between you and the training staff. The training staff, along with the permanent office staff, will provide feedback throughout training. If you are able to successfully complete pre-service training, you will then swear-in as a Volunteer and make final preparations for your departure to your permanent site.
Training is intense and sometimes stressful. The best advice we can give you is to maintain your sense of humor and try to get as much out of pre-service training as possible. We believe all the information and experiences you encounter will be valuable to your effectiveness as a Volunteer.
The technical orientation will give you a general overview of your work in Fiji by building on the skills you already have and by helping you develop new skills in a manner appropriate to the needs and issues of the country. The Peace Corps staff, Fiji experts, and community members will conduct the orientation sessions. The orientation places great emphasis on learning how to transfer the skills you already have to the community in which you will serve as a Volunteer.
Technical orientation includes sessions on general environmental, economic, and political situations in Fiji as well as strategies for working within such a framework. You will review your program’s goals and will meet with the Fijian agencies and organizations that invited Peace Corps to assist them.
You will be supported and evaluated by experienced Fijian trainers and Peace Corps staff throughout training to build the confidence and skills you will need to undertake your 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 will often be critical to your job, will help you integrate into your host community, and can ease your personal adaptation to new surroundings. Therefore, language training is the heart of the training program. Experienced Fijian and Hindi language instructors give formal language instruction in small classes of four to five people. Fijian and Hindi languages are also introduced in the health, cross-cultural, and technical components of training.
Your language training utilizes a community-based approach. You will have classroom time and be given applied assignments to work on outside of the classroom and with your host family to learn the language. Achieving basic social communication skills is vital and prior to swearing-in as a Volunteer, you will work on strategies to continue language studies during your two years of service. A tutoring allowance is available to you during your first year at site. Language proficiency interviews will be conducted to assess your language skills at end of pre-service training and at the end of your service.
As part of your pre-service training, you will live with a host family. The experience of living with a host family is designed to ease your transition into community life. Families have gone through an orientation conducted by Peace Corps staff to explain the purpose of the pre-service training program and to assist them in helping you adapt to living in Fiji. Many Volunteers form strong and lasting friendships with their host families.
Cross-culture and community development will be covered to help improve your skills of perception, communication, and facilitation. Topics such as community mobilization, conflict resolution, gender and development, and traditional and political structures are some examples.
Adjusting to another culture requires three basic skills: the ability to predict the behavior of host country nationals; the ability to not react, to “accept” without judgment, the behavior of host country nationals; and the ability to adapt your own behavior to conform to host country expectations. We do not expect you to be someone you are not; rather, we expect you to take the difficult course of finding ways of being true to yourself within the local cultural norms.
During pre-service training, you will be given basic medical training and information. Volunteers are expected to practice preventive healthcare and to take responsibility for their 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 you may encounter while in Fiji. Nutrition, mental health, safety and security, setting up a safe living compound, and how to avoid HIV/AIDS and other STIs are also covered.
During the safety training sessions, you will learn how to adopt a lifestyle that reduces risk in your home, at work, and during your travels. You will also learn appropriate, effective strategies for coping with unwanted attention and learn 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 an ongoing training system that provides trainees and Volunteers with continuous opportunities to examine their commitment to Peace Corps service while increasing their technical and cross-cultural skills.
During the two-year Volunteer term of service, there are usually three training events. The titles and objectives for those trainings follow.
- Early Service Training: provides an opportunity for Volunteers to enhance their technical, language, and project development skills while sharing their experiences and reaffirming their commitment after having served for approximately three to six months.
- Mid-Service Training: Assists Volunteers in reviewing their first year, reassessing their personal and project objectives, and planning for their second year of service.
- Close-of-Service Conference: Prepares Volunteers for the future after Peace Corps service and reviews Volunteers’ respective projects and personal experiences. The number, length and design of these trainings are adapted to each post’s needs and conditions. As these trainings are mandatory for all Volunteers, you will need to coordinate these periods away from site with your counterpart organization. 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.