Training in East Timor

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Your pre-service training will consist of intensive in-country training in four major areas: language, cross-cultural adaptation, technical job orientation, and Volunteer health and safety. The length of your training will be from 9 to 11 weeks. At the end of training, all trainees must pass qualifying criteria in each of these areas to be sworn in as Volunteers.

Training is held in small communities outside the capital similar to those in which you will live and work as a Volunteer. During training, you will live with East Timorese host families where you will share meals, language, and other cross-cultural experiences. You will have the opportuity to practice language, cross-cultural adaptation, and technical skills in an environment similar to the one in which you will be living and working as a Volunteer. During pre-service training, you will make a short visit to a site where Volunteers are currently working in health and community development projects. You will also spend several days at your assigned site. Throughout training, you will be encouraged to continue examining your personal motivation for joining the Peace Corps and your level of dedication and commitment so that by the time you are asked to swear in as a Volunteer you will be making an informed and serious commitment that will sustain you through two years of service.

Trainees spend much of their time in small language classes. They also spend time in technical studies combined with practice of new skills at the community level. Each week all trainees meet together at a central training facility for group sessions. This combination of formal classroom study with ample opportunities for practicing new language, cultural, and technical skills has proven to be an extremely effective way of preparing Volunteers to work as independent professionals once their service begins. There will also be occasions after pre-service training when Volunteers meet for special workshops to increase skills in a particular area or to assist with project development.

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[edit] Technical Training

Technical training will prepare you to work in East Timor by building on the skills you already have and helping you develop new skills in a manner appropriate to the needs of the country. The Peace Corps staff and technical experts will conduct the training program with assistance from selected Volunteers currently serving in-country. 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 also includes sessions on health promotion, community development strategies, and information on the agriculture, environment, economics, and government structure in East Timor as well as strategies for working within such a framework. Since projects focus on integrated community development, you will also receive technical training in the cross-cutting areas of youth development, and gender and development (GAD). You will review your technical sector’s goals and meet with the East Timor agencies and organizations that have invited the Peace Corps to assist them. You will be supported and evaluated throughout the training to build the confidence and skills you need to undertake your project activities and be a productive member of your community.

[edit] Language Training

Language is a complex issue in East Timor. Although Tetun is an official language along with Portuguese, few people actually speak Portuguese with any fluency. More than 90 percent of the population speaks one or more local indigenous languages. However, because the government of East Timor has adopted Tetun as both the national and official language of the country, the Peace Corps follows suit in emphasizing Tetun-speaking ability for all Volunteers. As Tetun has been influenced greatly by Portuguese, invitees are urged to brush up on any Portuguese or Spanish language skills they may have before arriving in the country. Tetun is not an especially difficult language to learn for an English speaker, but it is much easier if you already have basic competence in a Romance language.

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 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 complete training and become a Volunteer. Your language training will incorporate a community-based approach. In addition to classroom time, you will be given assignments to work on outside of the classroom and with your host family. The goal is to get you to a point of basic social communication skills so that you can practice and develop language skills further on your own. Prior to your swearing in as a Volunteer, you will work on strategies to continue language studies during your two years of service.

[edit] Cross-Cultural Training

As part of your pre-service training, you will live with an East Timorese host family. This experience is designed to ease your transition to 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 East Timor.

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 will be covered.

[edit] Health Training

During pre-service training, you will be given basic medical 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 must attend all medical sessions. The topics include preventive health measures and minor and major medical issues that you might encounter while in East Timor. 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.

[edit] Safety Training

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.

[edit] Additional Training 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 four training events. The titles and objectives for those trainings are as follows:

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.

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