History of the Peace Corps in Moldova
From Peace Corps Wiki
|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.
In 1993, the government of Moldova invited Peace Corps Volunteers to come to Moldova. The Peace Corps’ first assignment was to help expand the English-teaching capacity of Moldovan educators. Government representatives believed that well-developed English language skills would help Moldovans participate in the international community and global economy by helping them gain access to a wealth of information, resources, and markets. Current English education Volunteers also incorporate environmental issues into the curriculum.
Recently, Peace Corps/Moldova has added projects in organizational development, agriculture and agrobusiness, and health education to assist the Moldovan government in addressing the country’s economic and social development needs. Currently, Peace Corps Volunteers are working in about 100 towns and villages throughout the country. Since the program’s inception, more than 650 Volunteers have served in Moldova.
History and Future of Peace Corps Programming in Moldova
Peace Corps/Moldova works in four major project areas: teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL), health education, organizational development, and agriculture and agrobusiness. Project plans are jointly developed by Peace Corps staff, Volunteers, and Moldovan partners.
Peace Corps Volunteers assigned to the TEFL program work at three levels: with students, teachers, and the institution. They work as full-time, regular classroom teachers of English and teach in compliance with the requirements of the Moldovan National English Teaching Curriculum. Working both inside and outside of the classroom, Volunteers help students to improve their English language, critical thinking, problem-solving and decision-making skills and to develop greater environmental awareness. They also broaden students’ awareness of issues affecting their local communities, Moldova, and the rest of the world. Working directly with their teaching colleagues, Volunteers implement training workshops that enhance the ability of teachers to include content-based instruction in their classrooms. At the institutional level, Volunteers work with their schools and communities to improve the quality and the quantity of resource materials available for teaching and learning the English language.
During the Soviet era, the Republic of Moldova’s healthcare system focused on curative and clinical care provided by the state as opposed to health promotion and disease prevention. In 1995, health education was introduced as an optional course in the Moldovan school system. Education in basic life skills forms the framework for all health education conducted by the Peace Corps in Moldova. Volunteers are assigned jointly to secondary schools and local medical units or health-related nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).
Volunteer accomplishments have included assisting teachers in developing long-term plans and lesson plans for health education classes and youth clubs, helping community health staff develop and conduct health education activities for adults, developing materials for health education activities, and facilitating health campaigns and community health projects. Additionally, Volunteers have helped develop youth-oriented health centers and health education resource centers. They have also worked to develop and distribute educational materials in Romanian (the country’s official language) on reproductive health, HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted illnesses (STIs), breast cancer prevention, and the dangers of the substance abuse.
The community and organizational development project assigns Volunteers to work with local NGOs and municipal offices. These organizations are often seeking greater institutional capacity while struggling with the difficulties of poor internal financing, limited community outreach abilities, and overworked and overextended members of the organization. Volunteers have worked alongside their Moldovan partners in the promotion of small enterprise development, the enhancement of women’s and children’s rights, minority rights issues, youth development, and senior citizen care.
Volunteers in the agriculture and agribusiness development project collaborate with local organizations which provide services in the area of information dissemination, consulting, training, and extension in agriculture, micro-credit institutions and saving and credit associations, and community economic development organizations. All partner organizations are locally registered NGOs working to become self-sufficient and self-sustainable. Volunteers are involved in a range of activities targeting organizational development (needs assessments, training skills, extension methodology, organizational management, customer services, transparency, and representation) and directly assist small businesses and private farmer clients of these organizations through strengthening production knowledge, training in financial management and business planning, and assisting in development of marketing skills and ideas. In addition to their primary tasks, Volunteers engage in a wide variety of secondary projects. Volunteers have been involved in English clubs, development of a Moldovan branch of the Special Olympics, the promotion of Little League baseball, organizing self-esteem and leadership weekends, development of summer camps for youth with a focus on gender and development, sports, life skills, and business education, working with Junior Achievement programs, training peer education groups, conducting health education activities in kindergartens and promoting non-violence in the family. They have also helped their assigned communities obtain small grants for the renovation of school gymnasiums, school kitchens, dormitories at orphanages, the establishment of libraries and resource centers, the construction of hothouses for winter farming, and the provision of heating for rural schools.
The Peace Corps is committed to working alongside its Moldovan partners in meeting the country’s economic and social development challenges. Peace Corps/Moldova will continue its emphasis on placing Volunteers in small towns and rural villages, where the need is greater than in Chisinau and other large cities.