Training in Macedonia
Before you are sworn in as a Peace Corps Volunteer, you will participate in an intensive 12-week training program. The training uses a community-based approach, which means that you will live in small to mid-size communities surrounding a larger hub town. The training focuses on studying the Macedonian and, for some, Albanian language, in addition to cross-cultural adaptation, health and personal safety, and technical skills development. This period is a time for you to reexamine your commitment to be a Volunteer in Macedonia. It is also a time for the Peace Corps staff members to get to know you and be assured that your skills and attitude are a good match for the program in Macedonia. Throughout the training period, self-assessment as well as assessment by the Peace Corps staff will measure your progress toward meeting training objectives.
Technical training will prepare you to work in Macedonia 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 and Macedonian trainers 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 project design and management; networking; organizational development; function and structure of the nongovernmental organization (NGO) sector and local government sector; theories, methods, and techniques for teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL); and community and workplace entry skills. You will also meet with the Macedonian agencies and organizations that invited the Peace Corps to assist them.
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. You must successfully meet minimum language requirements to complete training and become a Volunteer. Experienced Macedonian and Albanian language instructors teach formal language classes five days a week in small groups of five to seven people. Language is also incorporated into the health, culture, and technical components of 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 two years of service.
Depending upon your work site assignment, as part of your pre-service training, you will live with a Macedonian or Albanian host family. This experience is designed to ease your transition to life at your site. Families have gone through an orientation conducted by Peace Corps staff to explain the purpose of the pre-service training program and to assist them in helping you adapt to living in Macedonia. Many Volunteers form strong and lasting friendships with their host families.
Cross-cultural training will help you to understand and adapt to life and work in Macedonia, to develop personal strategies to cope with cultural challenges, and to improve your communication skills and understand your role as a facilitator of development. You will be exposed to historical and political topics, socio-economic overview, gender and diversity issues, culture at the workplace, and the multiethnic identity of the country. This training is integrated into all components of the training and is reinforced by your homestay experience and discussions with the training staff.
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 major and minor medical issues that you might encounter while in Macedonia. Sexual health, alcohol issues, nutrition, mental health, and safety issues are also covered.
During the safety training sessions, you will learn how to adopt a lifestyle that reduces risk in your 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 Training During Volunteer Service
In its commitment to quality training, the Peace Corps has implemented a training system that provides Volunteers with continual opportunities to increase their technical, language and cross-cultural skills. During your 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, cross-cultural, personal safety, and project development skills, share their experiences, and reaffirm their commitment after having served for three to six months.
- Mid service conference: assists Volunteers in reviewing their first year, reassessing their personal and project objectives, and planning for their second year of service. Additional technical, language, safety and security, and cross-cultural training is also part of the mid-service conference.
- 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.