Training in Malawi
Pre-service training will provide you with the essential skills needed to successfully carry out your service in Malawi. The skills focus on integrating into your community and developing and implementing an appropriate work plan with your community and counterparts. Training includes five major components: technical training, cross-cultural training, language instruction, personal health and safety training, and the role of the Volunteer in development.
Pre-service training in Malawi is conducted as a community-based training, meaning that the bulk of the training takes place in the community as opposed to in a training center. Community-based training is a more difficult training model in some respects, as the learning environment is real, not artificial. 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 create a 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 Malawian family and work in villages and schools.
Technical training prepares you to work in Malawi 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. Peace Corps staff, Malawian 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 Malawi and strategies for working within such a framework. You will review your technical sector’s goals and will meet with the Malawian agencies and organizations that invited the Peace Corps to assist them.
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 community, and 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. Experienced Malawian language instructors teach formal language classes five days a week in small classes of four to five people. Languages are also introduced in the health, culture, and technical components of training.
Your language training will include 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. 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 Malawian 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 Malawi. 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 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 Malawi. Sexual health and harassment, nutrition, mental health, and safety issues 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 learn 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 which provides trainees and Volunteers with continuous opportunities to examine their commitment to Peace Corps service while increasing their technical and cross-cultural skills.
During your service, there are usually four training events.
The titles and objectives for those trainings are as follows:
- Pre-Service Training Objective: To provide trainees with the technical, language, and cross-cultural tools to enable them to build a foundation in their communities for successful service in Malawi.
- In-Service Training Objective: To provide 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-Term Conference (Done in conjunction with technical sector in-service) Objective: To assist Volunteers in reviewing their first year, reassessing their personal and project objectives, and planning for their second year of service.
- Close of Service Conference Objective: To prepare Volunteers for the future after Peace Corps service and to review Volunteers’ respective projects and personal experiences.
The number, length, and design of these trainings will be 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.