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Peace Corps has a remarkable history in Liberia. More than 3,800 Volunteers served in Liberia between 1962 and 1990. During those years, Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) served in every facet of Liberia’s development efforts with an emphasis on education, agriculture, rural development, and health education. Although the program closed in 1994 due to civil war, the Peace Corps is still fondly remembered and well loved in Liberia; most people over the age of 30 had a Peace Corps teacher at some point during their education.
The Peace Corps re-entered Liberia with a team of 12 Peace Corps Response Volunteers (PCRVs) in October 2008. Peace Corps Response Volunteers have already served as Peace Corps Volunteers and came to Liberia already in possession of the appropriate technical and cross-cultural skills needed to make an immediate impact.
In 2010, Peace Corps/Liberia will begin transitioning to a full Peace Corps program, with the first group of Peace Corps Volunteers arriving in June 2010. These PCVs will be in the secondary education project, working as English, science, and math teachers. Peace Corps/Liberia will continue to utilize both PCVs and PCRVs as part of a complementary and solid response to the development needs of the country.
Peace Corps History
Main article: History of the Peace Corps in Liberia
Liberia has a remarkable history with Peace Corps. More than 3,800 Volunteers served in Liberia between 1962 and 1990. During those years, Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) served in every facet of Liberia’s development efforts with an emphasis on education, agriculture, rural development, and health education. Although the program closed in 1990 due to civil war, the Peace Corps is still fondly remembered and well loved in Liberia; most people over the age of 30 had a Peace Corps teacher at some point during their education. The Peace Corps re-entered Liberia with a team of 12 Peace Corps Response Volunteers (PCRVs) in October 2008. Peace Corps Response Volunteers are returned Peace Corps Volunteers who undertake short-term assignments around the world.
In 2010, Peace Corps/Liberia began transitioning to a full Peace Corps program, with the first group of Peace Corps Volunteers arriving in June 2010. These PCVs will be in the secondary education project, working as English, science, and math teachers. Peace Corps/Liberia will continue to utilize both PCVs and PCRVs as part of a complementary and solid response to the development needs of the country.
Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyle
Main article: Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Liberia
Housing is in short supply in many regions of Liberia, so be prepared for very basic housing.
Volunteers are assigned to work under various ministries, but at the comunity level. Volunteer housing is provided by the host country; the ministries collaborate with local school authorities, community leaders, and partner organizations to secure housing. Some of the homes are equipped with electricity that may be provided for several hours daily, usually in the evening. Some homes will not have any electricity. Water will be available, but usually from nearby pumps and will have to be carried to the house.
Most Volunteers are assigned to schools and organizations in rural towns. Your workplace will be within walking distance of your home, but it might be a long walk! Dependent on community need, Peace Corps makes every effort to cluster Volunteers within reasonable distances of each other in order to promote collaborative efforts and minimize isolation. Some Volunteers might be placed in the same community. In this situation, Volunteers might have to share a house. You must be prepared to accept the living conditions to which you are assigned as you will be living under the same conditions as the people with and for whom you work. Peace Corps inspects all potential housing to ensure it meets our standards for health and safety.
Main article: Training in Liberia
Pre-service training is the first event within a competencybased training program that continues throughout your 27 months of service in Liberia. Pre-service training ensures that Volunteers are equipped with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to effectively perform their jobs. On average, nine of 10 trainees are sworn in as Volunteers.
Throughout service, Volunteers strive to achieve performance competencies. Initially, pre-service training affords the opportunity for trainees to develop and test their own resources. As a trainee, you will play an active role in selfeducation. You will be asked to decide how best to set and meet objectives and to find alternative solutions. You will be asked to prepare for an experience in which you will often have to take the initiative and accept responsibility for decisions. The success of your learning will be enhanced by your own effort to take responsibility for your learning and through sharing experiences with others.
Peace Corps provides a training continuum throughout your two years of service to help build and improve your language and cross-cultural skills, develop and adapt your teaching and other technical skills, address issues concerning health and personal safety, and share experiences and lessons learned with other Peace Corps Volunteers, Peace Corps staff members, and Liberian colleagues.
Health Care and Safety
Main article: Health care and safety in Liberia
The Peace Corps’ highest priority is maintaining the good health and safety of each Volunteer. Peace Corps medical programs emphasize the preventive, rather than the curative, approach to disease. The Peace Corps in Liberia maintains a clinic with a full-time medical officer, who takes care of Volunteers’ primary health care needs. Additional medical services, such as testing and basic treatment, are also available in Liberia at local hospitals. If you become seriously ill, you will be transported either to an American-standard medical facility in the region or to the United States.
Dental care to the level of American standards is not available in Liberia so you should not expect routine dental care during your service. Emergency dental care will be managed in-country, depending on available resources, or you will be transported regionally for further care.
Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues
Main article: Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Liberia
In fulfilling its mandate to share the face of America with host countries, the Peace Corps is making special efforts to see that all of America’s richness is reflected in the Volunteer corps. More Americans of color are serving in today’s Peace Corps than at any time in recent years. Differences in race, ethnic background, age, religion, and sexual orientation are expected and welcomed among our Volunteers. Part of the Peace Corps’ mission is to help dispel any notion that Americans are all of one origin or race and to establish that each of us is as thoroughly American as the other despite our many differences.
Our diversity helps us accomplish that goal. In other ways, however, it poses challenges. In Liberia, as in other Peace Corps host countries, Volunteers’ behavior, lifestyle, background, and beliefs are judged in a cultural context very different from their own. Certain personal perspectives or characteristics commonly accepted in the United States may be quite uncommon, unacceptable, or even repressed in Liberia. Homosexuality is one of these areas. It exists but is not openly expressed.
To ease the transition and adapt to life in Liberia, you may need to make some temporary, yet fundamental compromises in how you present yourself as an American and as an individual. For example, female trainees and Volunteers may not be able to exercise the independence available to them in the United States; political discussions need to be handled with great care; and some of your personal beliefs may best remain undisclosed. You will need to develop techniques and personal strategies for coping with these and other limitations. The Peace Corps staff will lead diversity and sensitivity discussions during training and will be on call to provide support, but the challenge ultimately will be your own.
Frequently Asked Questions
Main article: FAQs about Peace Corps in Liberia
Peace Corps News
- ESF among Top Producers of Peace Corps Volunteers - SUNY-ESF Headlines
[?]ESF among Top Producers of Peace Corps Volunteers
The Peace Corps has released the 2014 rankings of the top volunteer-producing colleges and universities across the country and the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry ranked No. 2 among small schools nationwide, with 17 undergraduate alumni currently ... ESF alumni currently serve as volunteers in Cameroon, Ethiopia, Fiji, Jamaica, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mexico, Panama, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Zambia. They work in sectors including agriculture, education, English and ...
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