Training in Burkina Faso
Training is an essential part of Peace Corps service. The goal of the training program is to give you the skills and information you need to live and work effectively in Burkina Faso. In doing that, we build upon the experiences and expertise you bring to the Peace Corps. 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-culture, development issues, health, safety and safety, and technical skills pertinent to your specific assignment. Training combines some structured classroom study, independent study, and hands-on experiences. The skills you learn will serve as the foundation upon which you build your experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer.
During the first several days of training, you will stay at a training center or hotel in the capital. After this orientation period, you will move to Ouahigouya, a regional capital north of Ouagadougou. Trainees will be placed in clusters of four to five people along with a language and cross-culture facilitator. Health and girls’ education clusters will be located in villages a short distance from Ouahigouya. Clusters of small enterprise development and secondary education trainees will most likely be based in Ouahigouya.
Trainees will be assigned to a host family where they will live for the duration of pre-service training. The host family experience, which Volunteers in Burkina Faso consider one of the most critical elements of training, allows you to gain hands-on experience in some of the new skills you are expected to acquire. Most Volunteers remain in close contact with their host families throughout their service.
At the beginning of training, the training staff will outline the goals that each trainee has to achieve before becoming a Volunteer and the criteria that will be used to assess progress toward those goals. The training director, along with the language, technical, and cross-cultural trainers, will work with you toward the highest possible achievement of training goals by providing you with feedback throughout training. After successful completion of pre-service training, you will be sworn-in as a Volunteer and make final preparations to depart for your site.
Depending on your sector, your initial period of training will be either 9 or 11 weeks. Those with the shorter period of pre-service training will have specific assignments to do during their first few months at site and then will attend a longer in-service training.
Technical training will prepare you to work in Burkina Faso 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. Peace Corps staff, Burkinabé 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, social, and political environment in Burkina Faso and strategies for working within such a framework. You will review your technical sector’s goals and will meet with the Burkinabé 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.
Training will involve a number of practical, “hands-on” experiences. For education Volunteers this includes experience teaching in a model school.
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 host 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. Experienced Burkinabé language instructors teach formal language classes five to six days a week in small groups of four to five people. Secondary education and SED trainees initially focus on French, studying a local language after they have achieved the required level of French. Health and girls’ education trainees may start local language study even earlier in pre-service training.
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.
As part of your pre-service training, you will live with a Burkinabé host family. This experience 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 Burkina Faso. Many Volunteers form strong and lasting friendships with their 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 Burkina Faso. 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.
Safety and Security Training
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 reinforce 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.