Training in Dominican Republic
Training is an essential part of Peace Corps service. Our goal is to give you the skills and information necessary to live and work effectively in the Dominican Republic. In doing so, 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 Peace Corps Volunteers after successful completion of training.
You will participate in 11 weeks of intensive training in five major areas: technical job orientation, language (Spanish), cross-cultural adaptation, health, and safety training. You will live in a community near Santo Domingo with a Dominican family, sharing meals, conversations, and other everyday experiences. You will also visit secondary towns and rural areas to get accustomed to the realities of life in the Dominican Republic. Trainees are together for the first four weeks of training. For six weeks, you will live in a smaller town for community-based training by project sector. Following the community-based portion of your training, you will travel to your future project site for an orientation visit and then return to the capital for a training wrap-up and to swear-in as a Peace Corps Volunteer. If you are serving with a spouse and you and your spouse are assigned to different programs, you will live apart for the community-based training portion of the program. Married couples are allowed to get together for one weekend during community-based training if they are in different project areas.
Training helps you learn how to apply your strengths and knowledge to new situations, developing your skills as a facilitator in a variety of technical areas. It doesn’t make you an expert. At the onset of training, the training staff will outline the goals you must achieve to become a Volunteer and the criteria that will be used to assess your progress. (A detailed breakdown of these criteria will be provided in-country.) Evaluation of your performance during training consists of a continual dialogue between you and the training staff.
Technical training prepares you to work in the Dominican Republic 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, Dominican experts, and current Volunteers 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 the Dominican Republic and strategies for working within such a framework. You will review your technical sector’s goals and meet with the Dominican agencies and organizations that invited the Peace Corps to assist them. You will be supported and evaluated throughout training to build the confidence and skills you will 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. Experienced Spanish-language instructors teach formal classes five days a week in small groups of four to five people at the training center or in community-based settings.
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 two years of service.
As part of your pre-service training, you will live with a Dominican 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 the Dominican Republic. 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 the Dominican Republic. Nutrition, mental health, and stategies to avoid HIV/ AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are also covered.
During the safety training sessions, you will learn how to adopt a lifestyle that reduces risks at home, at work, and during your travels, as well as how to set up a safe living environment. You will also learn appropriate and effective strategies for coping with unwanted attention and learn about your individual responsibility for promoting safety throughout your service.
Additional Training 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. During service, there are usually three training events. The titles and objectives for those trainings are as follows:
- In-service training: Provides an opportunity 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.
- Midterm conference (done in conjunction with technical sector in-service): 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 their respective projects and personal experiences. The number, length, and design of these training sessions 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.