Training in Samoa
Pre-service training will provide you with the essential skills needed to successfully complete your Peace Corps service. The skills focus around integrating into your community and developing and implementing an appropriate work plan with your community and counterparts. Training includes six major components: technical training (covering life and work) and the role of the Volunteer in development, language training, cross-cultural training, health training, safety and security training, and diversity training.
A community-based training model is the backbone of pre-service training for all new Volunteers in Samoa. This means that living and learning successfully in a local host community is an integral part of our training program. This is a more difficult training model in some respects, as the learning environment is real. During community-based training, most of your time will be spent in villages and communities similar to where you will be placed as a Volunteer. Your instructors will set up the learning environment with experiences and meetings designed to allow you to develop the knowledge and skills needed for your work as a Volunteer. Throughout your training, you will live with a Samoan family and work in villages and schools. Married couples will be housed together during training.
This training prepares you to work in Samoa by building on the skills you already have and by helping you to develop new skills in a manner appropriate to the needs of the country. The Peace Corps staff, Samoan 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 general environmental, economic, and political situations in Samoa and strategies for working within such a framework. There will also be discussions on your role in the development process. You will review your technical sector’s goals and will meet with the Samoan agencies and organizations that requested Peace Corps’ assistance.
You will be supported and evaluated by the training staff throughout the 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, will help you integrate into your host community, and will ease your personal adaptation to the new surroundings. Therefore, language training is at the heart of the training program, and you must successfully meet minimum language requirements to complete training and become a Volunteer. Experienced Samoan language instructors teach formal language classes five days a week in small classes of four to five people. The Samoan language is also introduced in the other components of training as well.
Your language training will incorporate a community-based approach. You will have classroom time and will be given assignments to work on outside of the classroom and with your host family to learn the language. Our goal is to get you to a point of basic social communication skills so that you can practice and develop language skills more thoroughly once you are at your site. Prior to swearing-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 Samoan host family. This experience is designed to ease your transition into 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 Samoa. Many Volunteers form strong and lasting friendships with their host families.
Cross-cultural and community development will be covered to help improve your skills of perception, communication, and facilitation. Topics such as community entry, assets mapping, and mobilization; conflict resolution; gender and development; and traditional and political structures are also addressed.
During pre-service training, you will be given basic medical training and information. You are expected to practice preventive healthcare and to take responsibility for your own health by adhering to all medical policies. As a trainee, you are required to attend all medical sessions. The topics include preventive health measures and minor and major medical issues that Volunteers may encounter while in Samoa. Sexual health, nutrition, mental health, first aid, and safety and security issues are also covered. You will also be given any necessary immunizations to help prevent prevalent infectious diseases in Samoa. Bring any immunization records that you may have with you.
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 or harassment and about your individual responsibility for promoting safety throughout your service.
Diversity training during pre-service training focuses on understanding diverse groups within American society and how that diversity impacts your success and satisfaction as a Volunteer in Samoa. It aims to increase understanding among diverse groups within the United States and to help you to find respectful and effective relationships with each other, with Peace Corps staff, and with host country nationals.
Additional Trainings During Volunteer Service
In its commitment to institutionalize quality training, the Peace Corps has implemented a training system that provides trainees and 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 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.
- Mid-service conference: 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 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 Peace Corps staff, Volunteers, and host country agencies.