Training in Panama
An experienced staff of language, technical, and cross-cultural trainers and administrative support personnel will do their best to help you obtain the skills and knowledge necessary to have an enjoyable and productive two years of service as a Volunteer working in sustainable community development. They will design and conduct your training based on the specific projects you will be working on.
The 10-week training program will take place in small communities within an hour of Panama City. The average week will be packed into 48 hours, divided among development of language and technical skills; work orientation; and a segment called “common areas training,” which incorporates Panamanian culture and history, Volunteer life, personal safety, strategic planning, diversity and gender issues, and other topics related to Volunteer service.
While Peace Corps staff will help prepare you for service, the primary responsibility for becoming prepared resides with you. What you get out of training will depend primarily on your level of interest, enthusiasm, and participation. Come prepared to work hard.
The training staff eagerly awaits your arrival. The training director will contact you a few weeks prior to your departure to welcome you.
Technical training will prepare you to work in Panama 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, Panamanian experts, representatives of Panamanian government agencies, 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 Panama and strategies for working within such a framework. You will review your technical sector’s goals and will meet with the Panamanian 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.
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.
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 once you are at your site. 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 Panamanian host family. This experience will 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 Panama. 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. Topics include preventive health measures and minor and major medical issues that you might encounter while in Panama. Nutrition, mental health, safety and security, setting up a safe living compound, and how to avoid HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted illnesses (STIs) 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 service, there are several training events.
- In-service training/project design and management: Provides an opportunity for Volunteers to upgrade their project development skills while sharing their experiences and reaffirming their commitment after having served for four to six months.
- Sector workshops: Provides an opportunity each year for Volunteers to upgrade their technical skills. The length of the workshops varies from three to five days.
- Regional training: Provides Volunteers with the opportunity to participate in training workshops with local agency counterparts at quarterly regional meetings.
- Close-of-service conference: Prepares Volunteers for the future after Peace Corps service and reviews their respective projects and personal experiences. The three-day conference occur three to four months before completion of service.
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 Peace Corps