Training in Lesotho
All new Volunteers arriving in Lesotho are provided with a nine- to 10-week pre-service training program prior to their posting. The training provides skills development in Sesotho, cross-cultural communication, and Volunteers’ particular job assignments. Sessions also cover specific medical and security conditions in Lesotho, first-aid instruction, and the historical, economic, political, and development issues facing Lesotho and southern Africa. Sesotho language classes and cultural training make up more than 65 percent of pre-service training.
Training is a special time that may, at times, seem very intense. During training, the Peace Corps gives you the knowledge and training necessary to become a productive Peace Corps Volunteer. Sometimes the knowledge given to you may not seem relevant to what you think you will be doing as a Volunteer. However, it is usually months after becoming a Volunteer that you realize why the Peace Corps trained you in these areas. Coming to training with an open mind and the ability to be flexible will help you adjust to a new environment and the journey you are about to undertake.
New Volunteers recruited to work in Lesotho are brought into the country in two training groups annually. One group, consisting of education Volunteers, arrives in mid October to early November, and a second group of community health and development Volunteers arrives in June.
Overview of Pre-Service Training
The first two weeks of pre-service training are conducted at a central training center. The next five weeks consist of community-based training, in which trainees live with Basotho host families in rural communities. The remaining weeks take place at the training center.
Technical training refers to the specific job that you have been invited to assist with, such as education, youth development, community development, or health advising. While you should already have some background and interest in the area of your assignment, the training will prepare you to work in Lesotho by building on the skills you already have and helping you develop new skills in a manner appropriate to the needs and issues of the country.
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. You will take part in structured Sesotho lessons given by Basotho instructors. At the completion of pre-service training, you will be tested by a certified language examiner, who will rate your ability in spoken Sesotho. In order for you to be sworn in as a Volunteer, you will need to attain a certain level of language proficiency. This is critical for you to function at the community level.
Volunteers who wish to continue their Sesotho training after pre-service training may hire a tutor. Peace Corps/Lesotho provides financial reimbursement for continuing language lessons.
As part of your pre-service training, you will live with a Basotho host family. This experience is designed to ease your transition to life in Lesotho. 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 Lesotho. Many Volunteers form strong and lasting friendships with their host families.
Cross-cultural sessions will include an explanation of Basotho culture, values, norms, and religious practices, including gender roles, workplace behaviors, and daily life in a village setting. Cross-cultural training also compares American norms and values with those of Basotho and discusses circumstances unique to living as a foreigner in Lesotho. A comprehensive study of the sociopolitical and economic evolution of southern Africa in general and Lesotho in particular is also part of training.
During pre-service training, you will be given basic health 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 health sessions. The topics include preventive health measures and minor and major health issues that you might encounter while in Lesotho. 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 your risks at 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 Trainings During Volunteer Service
Peace Corps/Lesotho also conducts several in-service training workshops for Volunteers each year. Each Volunteer is entitled to 15 in-service training days for the entire term of service. Workshops focus on upgrading Volunteer skills in Sesotho language and culture; technical training and resource identification relevant to Volunteers’ job assignment; procedures for identifying and implementing community development “secondary” projects; and a review of Peace Corps policies, procedures, and initiatives concerning safety, security, health, and programming.
There is also a close-of-service workshop for Volunteers nearing the end of their service to help prepare them for their return to the United States and life after the Peace Corps.
Training is conducted by Basotho trainers who are hired on short-term contracts. Peace Corps/Lesotho also utilizes sector specialist trainers from the United States on an as-needed basis. Lesotho government officials, current Peace Corps Volunteers, and other local resource persons also deliver sessions on particular topics and assist with the overall training program.
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