Training in Zambia
Pre-service training is probably the most intensive period during your Peace Corps service. During your 8 to 10 weeks of training time (depending on your project), you will need to accumulate the knowledge and experience necessary for the first several months of service. Before beings sworn-in as a Volunteer, you will also need to demonstrate that you meet the criteria to qualify for Volunteer service.
Your first two nights in Zambia will be spent at a simple lodge/camp near Lusaka. Following a brief orientation program, most trainees will proceed to their first site visits. Health Volunteers will proceed to the training center for two days of orientation and then move into their villages with their host families. The training center is situated approximately 350 kilometers from Lusaka to the north, in the province called Copperbelt. While this site is located in a rural setting, it lies just 20 kilometers from Zambia’s third largest city, Kitwe. Regardless of sector, your home stay families will be your hosts throughout training. Training also includes overnight field trips outside of the Copperbelt.
Rural aquaculture program trainees are given both center- and field-based training. These trainees live with home stay families around a national fisheries station, and they are assigned their own fish ponds to manage. Language, cross-culture and technical sessions are held around the station for seven weeks. Trainees will spend four weeks during this period at current Volunteers’ sites and will stay with host fish farmers continuing to improve their technical, language and cross-cultural competencies. Trainees in other program sectors will use community-based training. You will live with home stay families in villages within 15 to 20 kilometers of the training center. Your language, cross-culture and technical sessions will take place in your surrounding villages. Once a week, trainees will travel by bike to the training center for medical and other sessions and travel back to their home stay families at the end of the day. The living situation with your families will be similar to what you will experience as a Volunteer (i.e., housing consisting of mud brick with a grass roof and no electricity or running water). Education trainees also have a mixed training program. Their training is divided between three weeks working alongside currently serving education Volunteers and completing practical activities within schools and communities around the training site.
While pre-service training is extremely busy, it is also a time of excitement, discovery, and self-fulfillment. Drawing on your reserves of patience and humor, the effort and frustrations of functioning in a different culture will be rewarded with a sense of belonging among new friends. The long hours of study and practice will pay off in your ability to work effectively in a challenging job that will directly benefit a great number of people.
Technical training will prepare you to work in Zambia by building on the skills you already have and helping you to develop new skills in a manner appropriate to the needs and issues of the country. The Peace Corps staff, Zambian 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. You will be supported and evaluated by experienced Zambian trainers, current Volunteers, and Peace Corps staff throughout the training to build the confidence and skills you will need in order to eventually undertake your sub-sector activities and be a productive member of your community.
Technical training includes sessions on general environmental, economic, and political situations in Zambia and strategies for working within such a framework. You will review your technical sector’s goals and will meet with the Zambian agencies and organizations that invited Peace Corps to assist them.
Language skills will are key to your personal and professional satisfaction as a Volunteer. These skills will often be critical to your job performance; they will help you integrate into your host community; and they can ease your personal adaptation to the new surroundings. For these reasons, language training is the heart of the training program, and you must successfully meet minimum language requirements in order to complete training and become a Volunteer. Experienced Zambian language instructors give formal language instruction five and a half days a week in small classes of four to five people. The Zambian languages that are taught are also introduced in the health, culture, and technical components of training.
Your language training will incorporate 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 linguistic skills more thoroughly. Prior to swearing in as Volunteers, 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 Zambian host family. The experience of living with a Zambian host family is designed to ease your transition into life in the countryside. 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 Zambia. Many Volunteers form strong and lasting friendships with their home stay families.
Cross-culture and community development will be covered through a variety of training activities 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 some examples.
During pre-service training, you will be given basic medical training and information. Volunteers are expected to practice preventive health care and to take responsibility for their own health by adhering to all medical policies. The topics include preventive health measures and minor and major medical issues that Volunteers may encounter while in Zambia. 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 that provides Volunteers with continuous opportunities to examine their commitment to Peace Corps service while increasing their technical and cross-cultural skills.
Over the two-year Volunteer term of service, there are usually three kinds of training events. The titles and objectives for those trainings are as follows:
- Pre-Service Training: Provides trainees with solid technical, language, and cross-cultural knowledge to prepare them for living and working successfully in Zambia.
- In-Service Training: Provides 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. There are typically two in-service trainings during a Volunteer’s tour of service.
- Close of Service Conference: Prepares Volunteers for the future after Peace Corps service and to review Volunteers’ respective projects and personal experiences.