History of the Peace Corps in Armenia

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History of the Peace Corps
Since 1960, when then Senator John F. Kennedy challenged students at the University of Michigan to serve their country in the cause of peace by living and working in developing countries, more than 182,000 Peace Corps Volunteers have served in 138 countries all over the globe.

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[edit] History and Future of Peace Corps Programming in Armenia

Peace Corps/Armenia is transitioning from four projects to three. Currently, there are volunteers serving in the following sectors: Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL), Community and Business Development (CBD), Environmental Education (EE), and Community Health Education (CHE). However, after 2010, the EE and CHE programs will not accept new volunteers. Instead, a Youth Development (YD) program will be implemented for the following years. Our objective is not to teach Armenians “American” values, but to help them help themselves within their own cultural framework.

Volunteers in the TEFL project have been teaching English at village and town secondary schools, colleges, and other institutions of higher learning since 1992. In 1999, a teacher-training component was added. Teacher-trainer Volunteers also work at teacher-training institutes and methodology centers.

CBD Volunteers work with local non-governmental organizations (NGOs), educational institutions, and business support centers to build capacity for effective participation in the emerging market economy. Almost all Volunteers in this project support at least one local NGO in capacity-building. They also help implement projects in environmental protection, youth development, education, career development, women in development, and computer and English training. Several Volunteers are carrying out small-scale projects in community development, such as Boys Reaching Out Camps (BRO), sports tournaments for students, and tourism development.

The CHE project aims to increase preventive health measures at the community level and raise awareness of public health issues. Volunteers in this project are placed in clinics, educational institutions (e.g., schools and medical colleges), and health NGOs. They work with partners to teach health classes, conduct health workshops, develop grant proposals for health improvement projects, conduct informal health education sessions with community residents, organize environmental health awareness hikes and camps, develop health curriculum guides and materials, and translate and adapt health education materials for the Armenian context. Community health education Volunteers encourage people to understand the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle and to make good health a priority.

Peace Corps/Armenia started the EE project in 2003. Volunteer work includes capacity-building for environment-related NGOs; working with conservation areas and reservations to develop strategies to minimize the impact of human traffic and assisting with wildlife management through data collection and monitoring; ecotourism (e.g., merging ecological concerns with tourism to develop programs with a low impact on the environment); and incorporating environmental education topics into the English and health curriculum and into regular teaching assignments.

The Youth Development program will begin in 2011. While the program specifics have yet to be arranged, it is expected that volunteers will work largely with Youth organizations and other types of community development affecting young adults and adolescents.

In addition to project-specific activities, Volunteers collaborate with each other and community members in other sectors. Volunteers integrate cross-sector initiatives such as HIV/AIDS awareness, gender and development, information technology, youth development, and civic education into their activities. They work to increase understanding of gender roles and to encourage the active participation of both men and women in their communities. Volunteers help Armenian communities gain access to, and make effective use of, information technologies and reach out to empower Armenian girls and boys through education, community involvement, and exposure to new ideas and approaches to proactively manage their quality of life.

Sector Assignment Beg. Yr End. Yr
Agriculture Ag Economics 1994 1998
Ag Extension 2004 2004
Community and Business Development Business Advising 1992 Present
Business Development 1994 Present
Computer Science/IT 2004 Present
NGO Advising 2003 Present
Education English Teacher 1992 Present
English Teacher Trainer 1992 Present
Prim-Ed/Teach Trn 2000 Present
Univ. English Teaching 1995 2003
Environment Environmental Ed. 2003 2010
Forestry 2006 2006
Health Health Degreed 2000 2006
Health Extension 2000 2010
UNV United Nations Volunteer 1994 1994
Community and Youth Development Commun. Serv/Deg. 2000 2007
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