Training in China
Your first weeks in-country will be an intense period of transition. It may be your first time outside of the United States. Regardless of your background and experience, you will be making a leap of faith and putting yourself in the hands of several individuals whose job is to prepare you for Peace Corps service. During pre-service training, all trainees live with host families. Many individuals find this experience to be the best part of their training. Host families provide invaluable lessons in cross-cultural and language areas that Peace Corps staff cannot begin to teach. Some Volunteers remain close to their host families throughout their service and spend some Chinese holidays and vacations with them.
Pre-service training is designed to provide you with the tools necessary to operate independently and effectively as a Peace Corps Volunteer in China. You will participate in a structured learning situation that is community based. You will be required to attend all training sessions, learn and demonstrate proficiency in the language, and observe cultural mores. Your progress will be assessed by others, but you will also be asked to take responsibility for your own learning and to gradually decrease your reliance on the Peace Corps training and office staff. You will be encouraged to assess your own progress as well as your commitment to serving in Peace Corps/China for the next two years.
A trainee-asssessment process helps the staff monitor trainee progress in meeting the required competencies in the areas of language, cross culture, technical, safety and security.
Likewise, trainees have the opportunity to assess their own performance and meet periodically with staff to discuss their progress in meeting the competencies. Towards the end of PST, trainees meet with senior staff to discuss their commitment to service before they are sworn-in.
Pre-service training consists of language instruction; cross-cultural orientation; job-specific technical training; orientation to China’s institutional processes; health, medical, and safety orientation; and orientation to Peace Corps policies. The particular design of the training depends on the size and makeup of your group. PST will not give you everything it takes to be a successful Peace Corps Volunteer. Volunteer service is a process and requires continual learning and application of what is learned. Even though pre-service training is a good foundation, what you bring in terms of knowledge, skills, experience, and motivation, combined with what you acquire during PST, will determine the quality of your experience as a Volunteer.
Technical training will prepare you to work in China by building on the skills you already have and by helping you to develop new skills in a manner appropriate to the needs and issues of the country. The Peace Corps staff and current Volunteers will conduct the technical component of the training program. Technical training places great emphasis on learning how to become an effective TEFL teacher in a Chinese classroom setting. The core of technical training is a three-week model school practicum with Chinese students. Former Volunteers have said this is the hardest yet most rewarding experience of technical training.
You will be supported and evaluated by experienced Chinese trainers, current Volunteers, and Peace Corps staff throughout the training to build the confidence and skills you will need to undertake your work as a TEFL teacher and be a productive member of your community.
As a Peace Corps Volunteer, you will find that well-developed language skills are the key to personal and professional satisfaction during your service. These skills will often be critical to your job performance, they will 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 become a Volunteer. Experienced Chinese language culture facilitators (LCFs) provide formal language instruction in small classes of two to five trainees. The Chinese language is also integrated in the health, safety, culture, and technical components of training.
Your language training will incorporate a competency-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 linguistic skills more thoroughly. Furthermore, you will be provided guidelines on how to effectively design, implement, and monitor an individualized learning program as well as how to identify a suitable tutor and negotiate a reasonable rate during your two years of service. This policy attempts to provide the maximum possible flexibility to Volunteers to determine how to best meet their language needs.
As part of your pre-service training, you will live with a Chinese host family. The experience of living with a Chinese host family is designed to ease your transition into life in the countryside. 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 China. Many Volunteers form strong and lasting friendships with their host families.
Cross-culture and community entry will be covered to help improve your skills of perception, communication, and facilitation. Community mobilization, conflict resolution, gender and development, and traditional and political structures are some examples of the topics that will be covered.
During pre-service training, you will be given basic health training and information. You will be expected to practice preventive health care 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 minor and major medical issues that you might encounter while in China. Nutrition, mental health, safety and security, setting up a safe living compound, and how to avoid HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) 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. There will be extensive training in the Peace Corps/China emergency action plan to familiarize you with procedures during any emergency.
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 (done in conjunction with technical sector in-service): 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 training staff, Peace Corps staff, and Volunteers.