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( As of Saturday December 21, 2013 )
Volunteers serve in either primary or secondary schools or in community-based rural training centers. Volunteers support the teaching of disadvantaged students in secondary schools with inadequate or underqualified teachers. They teach math, science, information technology, and English at secondary schools. Volunteers contribute through classroom teaching, curriculum and resource development, strategic planning for schools, and through supporting initiatives to strengthen community involvement in education.
Volunteers help community-managed rural training centers provide vocational and basic life skills to students who cannot be accommodated in the secondary education system. Rural training centers help to mitigate urban drift by providing opportunities for these youth to contribute to their rural communities.
Small Business Development
Working with rural retail and marketing cooperatives, Volunteers provide training in business and organizational management, bookkeeping, credit management, cooperative philosophy, and product diversification. Volunteers work with entrepreneurs and other clients to conduct business feasibility studies, start-up small businesses, identify local and regional markets, and undertake small-scale processing of local resources. They also promote the formation of small community savings and loan groups.
Agriculture Volunteers work to promote sustainable farming practices and agroforestry to improve food security and income-generation opportunities. Volunteers encourage youth to pursue agriculture as a livelihood and to act as mentors for peers. They also work with farming communities to expand opportunities for local value-added processing and marketing of crops.
Projects focus on producing higher value crops such as vanilla, pepper, cocoa and spices, as well as small livestock and staple foods. Volunteers have helped start Future Farmers initiative, a project involving three government ministries whose cooperation is facilitated by the Peace Corps and aims to increase young people's interest in agriculture.
There is a strong interest by communities in Vanuatu to improve the management of their natural resources including reefs, forests, wildlife, and agricultural lands. Volunteers work with communities to promote sustainable land use management practices, develop natural resource management plans, establish conservation areas, and promote nature tourism and conservation enterprises. Most activities promote conservation and sustainable uses while generating income for community members.
The Peace Corps' coastal resources management work focuses on coral reefs, mangroves, estuaries, and marine biology. A disaster preparedness and mitigation project produced risk assessment maps, assisted community leaders to produce community disaster preparedness plans, and inspired communities to raise awareness about natural disasters.
Volunteers work in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, community health committees (local partner institutions), and community-based health professionals to strengthen their capacity to sustainably reduce the incidence of preventable diseases. Volunteers work with local institutions to improve the health and well-being of the population through activities that promote healthy lifestyles and improve nutrition.
Peace Corps News
Contributions to the Vanuatu Country Fund will support Volunteer and community projects that will take place in Vanuatu. These projects include water and sanitation, agricultural development, and youth programs.
Peace Corps History
Main article: History of the Peace Corps in Vanuatu
Despite intermittent talks between the government of the newly independent Republic of Vanuatu and the Peace Corps through the 1980s, a country agreement was not signed until 1989. The first Peace Corps Volunteers arrived in Port Vila in late 1989. During the first four years of its existence (October 1989 to August 1993), the Peace Corps/Vanuatu program was administered by Peace Corps/Solomon Islands. Following the initial programming assessment trip, the Peace Corps decided to focus resources and Volunteers in the education sector. The first three Volunteers arrived in 1989, and they were assigned to teach either math or science at two different junior secondary schools. They were followed a year later by three additional math and science teachers.
The third group of Peace Corps Volunteers, three small business advisors assigned to work at the Development Bank of Vanuatu, arrived in mid-1991. They trained bank personnel assigned to the various branch offices located around the country. These Volunteers were soon followed by what would be the last contingent of math and science teachers assigned to the junior secondary school system. By the time these Volunteers completed their service in December 1993, the Ministry of Education was confident that Vanuatu no longer needed such teachers. Unfortunately, this assessment turned out to be inaccurate so the Peace Corps continued to provide assistance in this area. This group also included the first Volunteer assigned to a rural training center.
Main article: Training in Vanuatu
Pre-service training provides trainees with 10 weeks of intense, entry-level language, cultural, technical, development, and personal security and health skills to function effectively as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Vanuatu. Training emphasizes building interpersonal skills and self-confidence, identifying and using local resources, and teaching relevant skills to host country counterparts. It will be the first “reality test” of life as a Volunteer, which will help you make an informed commitment when you are sworn in as a Peace Corps Volunteer.
Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyle
Main article: Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Vanuatu
For the first few days of pre-service training (PST), you will stay in Port Vila. You will then move to a rural village on Efaté island, staying with a Ni-Vanuatu family for the reminder of training. Although some homes in the village use solar power or generators for electricity, you are more likely to use a kerosene lamp or candles. At the training site and in most rural villages, households have a rainwater tank, well, or piped water for drinking and showers. Most houses are composed of local materials including wood, bamboo, palm and coconut leaves and tin sheets.
At about the midpoint of training, you will go on a “walkabout.” This four- to six-day day visit to your assignedsite or a similar location provides an opportunity to discuss your assignment, meet and visit with future colleagues and community members and current Volunteers, and become familiar with living conditions in another part of the country. Before going on the walkabout, you will be given information about the site and have an opportunity to discuss the assignment with Peace Corps staff or Volunteers.
Health Care and Safety
Main article: Health care and safety in Vanuatu
The Peace Corps’ highest priority is maintaining the good health and safety of every Volunteer. Peace Corps medical programs emphasize the preventive, rather than the curative, approach to disease. Peace Corps/Vanuatu maintains a clinic and a full-time medical officer takes care of Volunteers’ primary healthcare needs. Additional medical services, such as testing and basic treatment, are also available in Vanuatu at local hospitals. If you become seriously ill during your service, you will be transported either to an American-standard medical facility in the region or to the United States.
Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues
Main article: Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Vanuatu
In Vanuatu, as in other Peace Corps host countries, Volunteers’ behavior, lifestyle, background, and beliefs are judged in a cultural context very different from their own. Certain personal perspectives or characteristics commonly accepted in the United States may be quite uncommon, unacceptable, or even repressed in Vanuatu.
Outside of Vanuatu’s capital, residents of rural communities have had relatively little direct exposure to other cultures, races, religions, and lifestyles. What people view as typical American behavior or norms may be a misconception, such as the belief that all Americans are rich and have blond hair and blue eyes. The people of Vanuatu are justly known for their generous hospitality to foreigners; however, members of the community in which you will live may display a range of reactions to cultural differences that you present.
- Possible Issues for Female Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color
- Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers =
- Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Volunteers With Disabilities
- Possible Issues for Married Volunteers
Frequently Asked Questions
Main article: FAQs about Peace Corps in Vanuatu
- How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Vanuatu?
- What is the electric current in Vanuatu?
- How much money should I bring?
- When can I take vacation and have people visit me?
- Will my belongings be covered by insurance?
- Do I need an international driver’s license?
- What should I bring as gifts for Ni-Vanuatu friends and my host family?
- Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be?
- How can my family contact me in an emergency?
- Can I call home from Vanuatu?
- Should I bring a cellular phone with me?
- Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?
Main article: Packing list for Vanuatu
This list has been compiled by Volunteers serving in Vanuatu and is based on their experience. Another packing list, with more detail and explanation, is located on the website at http:// www.peacecorps.gov.vu/list.html. (this link may no longer be active) Use these as informal guides in making your own list, bearing in mind that experience is individual. There is no perfect list! You obviously cannot bring everything on the list, so consider those items that make the most sense to you personally and professionally. You can always have things sent to you later. As you decide what to bring, keep in mind that you have an 80-pound weight limit on baggage. And remember, you can get almost everything you need in Vanuatu or through Internet purchases.
- General Clothing
- For Men
- For Women
- Personal Hygiene and Toiletry Items
- Volunteers who served in Vanuatu
- List of resources for Vanuatu
- Pre-Departure Checklist
- Inspector General Reports
Vanuatu is an independent republic consisting of 83 islands in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, located about 3,500 miles southwest of Hawaii and about 1,500 miles northeast of Australia. From the late 19th century until independence in 1980, Vanuatu was governed jointly by France and Britain. The capital and largest city is Port-Vila, located on the island of Efate. The country is characterized by isolated rural communities scattered among a chain of beautiful, but often rugged and lightly populated, tropical islands extending about 500 miles from north to south. Vanuatu has a population of about 190,000.
The majority of Vanuatu's population lives in isolated rural areas, though the urban centers of Port Vila and Luganville are increasing in size rapidly. About 16 percent of the population resides in Port Vila and 5.8 percent in Luganville. Port Vila, in sharp contrast to the rest of the country, is a small but cosmopolitan capital city with a local economy that caters to tourists and foreign residents.
Vanuatu is at a pivotal point in its young history: making the delicate transition from a largely self-sufficient agriculture-based economy to a more market-oriented one. While traditional values and customs continue to influence society, the pull of the new economy and the lifestyles that come with it have changed the community-based social"safety net." The challenge to the people of Vanuatu is how to create a balance between the traditional community support system and the rising expectations that they will have jobs, education, healthcare and a multitude of public services.
Country and Culture
Geography and Culture
The indigenous population of Vanuatu is predominantly Melanesian, on some islands blended with Polynesian. The people of the archipelago are known as Ni-Vanuatu.
The islands are rugged—some with forested peaks several thousand feet in elevation—and isolated both from the rest of the world and from each other. Vanuatu's land area, scattered over 65 inhabited islands, approximates that of Northern Ireland, but it is dispersed across an expanse of the equatorial Pacific equivalent in size to a good portion of Western Europe.
Cool between April and November, the days become hot and dry in December. The daily temperature will range from 20 to 32 degrees Celsius. Trade winds occur from May to October. Vanuatu is warm, humid and wet between November and April. Rain is moderate.
According to 2006 World Health Organization figures, the population of Vanuatu has a life expectancy at birth of 68 years. Vanuatu has an infant mortality rate of 40 deaths/1,000 live births.About half the population age 15 and older can read and write.
Economy and Government
In 1906, after years of strife in colonizing Vanuatu, a unique compromise agreement developed between France and the United Kingdom that would allow them to administer the islands jointly. Called the British-French Condominium, it provided two completely separate governmental systems, one for English-speaking settlers and one for French, that came together only in a joint court. To this day, there are still remnants of this dual system (e.g. dual educational system: French and English) even though the country is now independent and administered under its on democratic system.
The first political party, called the New Hebrides National Party, was established in the early 1970s. Renamed the Vanua'aku Pati in 1974, the party pushed for independence. In 1980, the Republic of Vanuatu was created.
The economy is based primarily on subsistence or small-scale agriculture, which provides a living for 65 percent of the population. Fishing, offshore financial services, and tourism are other mainstays of the economy. Mineral deposits are negligible; the country has no known petroleum deposits. A small light industry sector caters to the local market. Tax revenues come mainly from import duties. Economic development is hindered by dependence on relatively few commodity exports, vulnerability to natural disasters, and long distances from main markets and between constituent islands.
The pattern of small settlements with limited outside contact fostered the development of well over 100 distinct Melanesian languages. The most common dialect, a form of pidgin English called Bislama, is the language of national unity. English and French are also official languages and are taught in schools throughout the country.
Most people are Christians; however, many professed Christians also practice some indigenous religious customs, and some Ni-Vanuatu adhere solely to the traditional animist beliefs.