Training in Ecuador
The 10-week training period is a time for you and the Peace Corps to reexamine your commitment to being a Volunteer in Ecuador. Participation in training does not guarantee that you will become a Volunteer. While we fully expect you to successfully complete training, there are certain goals you must achieve before you can be sworn in as a Volunteer. These goals include attaining a minimum level of ability in the Spanish language (as measured by a standard oral exam), gaining the required technical knowledge, and demonstrating your ability to live and work within the framework of the local culture (as assessed by staff members), while following Peace Corps’ guidance for safety and security and personal health. These goals are equally important. Not only must you be able to do your job, but you must be able to do it in a culturally acceptable way. You will be evaluated and advised by both American and Ecuadorian members of the training staff regarding your progress.
Throughout pre-service training, you will be encouraged to continue examining your personal motivation for having joined the Peace Corps and your level of commitment, so that by the time you are invited to swear in as a Volunteer, you are making an informed and serious commitment that will sustain you through the full two years of service.
Ninety percent of training takes place in a community setting, where you will experience living and working conditions similar to those at the site where you will be assigned. During this community-based training period, you will live with an Ecuadorian family and be expected to take full advantage of the opportunity to immerse yourself in the language and culture. Three to five trainees are assigned to each community.
Technical training will prepare you to work in Ecuador by building on the skills you already have and helping you develop new skills in a manner appropriate to the needs of the country. The Peace Corps staff, Ecuadorian 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 economic and political environment in Ecuador and strategies for working within such a framework. You will review your technical sector’s goals and will meet with the Ecuadorian agencies, organizations, and community contacts 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. Language training occurs primarily in communities, through interacting with families, community members, and agencies. Along with formal language sessions, language training is also integrated in health, safety, cultural, and technical training activities. High intermediate or advanced speakers are expected to identify alternative learning opportunities in their communities that focus on needs in their future sites. Advanced speakers are expected to structure their own learning with facilitators to help process activities.
Your language training will incorporate a community-based approach. In addition to formal language learning, 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 once you are at your site.
As part of your pre-service training, you will live with an Ecuadorian 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 Ecuador. 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 gender and development, positive community development strategies, and nonformal and adult education strategies.
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 Ecuador. Nutrition, mental health, safety and security, setting up a safe living area, and how to avoid HIV/AIDS and other 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. During your service, there are usually four training events. The titles and objectives for those trainings are as follows:
- Reconnect conference: Four to five months after beginning service, Volunteers get together for a two- or three-day program in which they review their first few months of service, provide input to Peace Corps/Ecuador, and learn new technical and language skills.
- In-service trainings: These provide an opportunity for Volunteers and their counterparts to upgrade their technical, language, and project development skills while sharing their experiences.
- Local technical training: Provides cross-sector training opportunities, depending on community interest, coordinated with the regional Volunteer coordinators.
- Close of service conference: Prepares Volunteers for the future after Peace Corps service, reviews their respective projects and personal experiences, and provides a forum for Peace Corps/Ecuador to discuss Volunteers’ ideas for improving the program in Ecuador. 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.