Training in Kyrgyzstan
Training is an essential part of Peace Corps service. Our goal is to provide you with the information you need to live and work effectively in the Kyrgyz Republic. You will receive training and orientation in language, cross-cultural communication, area studies, health and personal safety and security, and technical skills relevant to your specific assignment. The skills you learn will serve as a foundation upon which you will build your experience as a Volunteer in the Kyrgyz Republic. You will study either Kyrgyz or Russian, based on the language used most at your future site.
For your first two days in-country, you will stay at a training facility in Bishkek, after which you will move to the permanent training site located approximately half an hour outside of the capital. Once there, you will live with a host family in a rural village or small town with a few other trainees. While you and your fellow trainees will meet as a group, you will also have a chance to experience Kyrgyz customs on your own with your host family and on technical field trips. These experiences will help bring to life the topics covered in training and will give you the chance to practice your new language skills and directly observe and participate in Kyrgyz culture.
At the beginning of training, the staff will outline the goals and competencies you will need to reach before becoming a Volunteer and the criteria that will be used to assess your progress. Evaluation of your performance during training is a continual process that is based on a dialogue between you and the programming and training staff. The training staff will assist you in achieving the goals by providing you with feedback throughout the training process. After successfully completing training, you will be sworn in as a Volunteer and make final preparations for departure to your assigned site.
Technical training prepares you to work in the Kyrgyz Republic 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, with the assistance of Kyrgyz 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 and political environment in the Kyrgyz Republic and strategies for working within such a framework. You will review the goals and objectives of your project and meet with the Kyrgyz 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. In addition to regular classroom sessions, you will be given assignments to work on with your community, school or organization. These activities will help you acquire many of the skills and experiences necessary to be an effective Volunteer.
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. The initial period of language study 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 your swearing in as a Volunteer, you will work on strategies to continue language studies during your two years of service.
Although the prospect of learning a new language may seem daunting, Volunteers before you have been successful and many have learned to speak Kyrgyz or Russian fluently. Prior to leaving the United States, you will need to log onto My Toolkit on the Peace Corps website to download MP3s and corresponding language lesson manuals of both Kyrgyz and Russian to familiarize yourself with the sounds of the languages and give you a head start on some of the basics. Becoming familiar with the Cyrillic alphabet prior to your arrival can also help minimize some of the culture shock when you first step off the airplane.
As part of pre-service training, you will live with a Kyrgyz host family. This experience is designed to give you firsthand experience with the local culture and an opportunity for regular language practice, easing your transition to life at your site. Families have gone 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 Kyrgyz Republic. Many Volunteers form strong and lasting friendships with their initial 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, and non-formal and adult education strategies. You will also learn about Kyrgyz politics, history, and arts. The Kyrgyz people take great pride in their poets, writers, artists, and composers, so awareness of their cultural achievements is an important aspect of adapting to life in the Kyrgyz Republic.
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 sessions. The topics include preventive healthcare measures and minor and major medical issues that you might encounter while in the Kyrgyz Republic. Nutrition, mental health, alcohol-related issues, safety and security, and how to avoid HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are also covered.
Safety and security training will be provided throughout your Volunteer service and will be integrated into language, cross-cultural, health, and other training components. During 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 safety issues, and your individual responsibility for promoting safety throughout your service. You will be expected to follow Peace Corps policies as well as country-specific safety and security policies and procedures throughout your service, and to report any safety and security issues to the relevant Peace Corps staff. You also will be trained to fulfill certain responsibilities that are part of Peace Corps/Kyrgyz Republic’s emergency action plan.
Additional Trainings During Volunteer Service
In its commitment to institutionalize quality training, the Peace Corps 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 two training events:
- 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. This will also be a time to revisit pre-service training competencies, measure your progress, and reinforce competencies.
- 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.