Training in Belize
Training is an essential part of Peace Corps service. The goal is to give you the skills and information you need to live and work effectively in Belize, building upon the experience and expertise you bring to the Peace Corps. We anticipate that you will approach training with an open mind, a desire to learn, and a willingness to become involved. Trainees officially become Volunteers after successful completion of training.
The training program is approximately two months long. During training, you will receive training in language, cross-cultural communication, area studies, development issues, health and personal safety, and technical skills pertinent to your specific assignment. You will also practice new skills as they apply to Belize and meet and work with current Volunteers as a group. Additionally, by living with a host family during training and by taking field trips, you will have a chance to experience local culture and customs on your own.
After you arrive, you will stay at the training center for several weeks. Then you will live with a host family for a few weeks. This experience will bring to life some of the topics covered in training and give you a chance to practice language skills and observe and participate in Belizean culture. Throughout the training program, you will receive technical training and will travel around the country to visit Volunteers involved in work similar to yours. In the last week of training, trainees return to the training center for a few final training sessions and to make preparations to move to their permanent sites.
At the outset of training, the training staff will outline the goals that each trainee has to reach before becoming a Volunteer. Evaluation of your performance during training will be a continual process, characterized by a dialogue between you and the training staff. The training staff will work with you toward the highest possible achievement of training goals by providing you with regular feedback. After successful completion of training, you will be sworn in as a Volunteer and make the final preparations for departure to your site.
Technical training will prepare you to work in Belize by building on the skills you already have and by helping you develop new skills in a manner appropriate to the needs of the country. The Peace Corps staff, Belizean experts, and current Volunteers will 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 the general economic and political situation in Belize and strategies for working within such a framework. You will review your technical sector’s goals and will meet with the Belizean agencies and organizations that 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 to be a productive member of your community.
Although Belize is in the heart of Central America, it is an English-speaking country. The one language besides English that is used in all parts of the country is Creole, so most trainees are taught the basics of Creole during pre-service training.
Some Belizeans also speak Spanish, Garifuna, or various Mayan languages. If the people in your assigned community speak one of these languages and it becomes apparent that your work and integration into the community could benefit from learning that language, the Peace Corps will provide the necessary instruction.
As part of your pre-service training, you will live with a Belizean host family. This experience is designed to ease your transition to life at your site. Families go through an orientation conducted by Peace Corps staff to explain the purpose of pre-service training and to assist them in helping you adapt to living in Belize. Many Volunteers form strong and lasting friendships with their host families.
Cross-cultural and community development training will help you improve your communication skills and understand your role as a facilitator of development. You will be exposed to topics such as community mobilization, conflict resolution, gender and development, nonformal and adult education strategies, and political structures.
During pre-service training, you will be given basic medical training and information. You will be expected to practice preventive healthcare and to take responsibility for your own health by adhering to all medical policies. The topics include preventive health measures and minor and major medical issues that you might encounter while in Belize. Nutrition, mental health, safety and security, setting up a safe living compound, and how to avoid HIV/AIDS and other STIs are also covered.
During the safety training sessions, you will learn how to adopt a lifestyle that reduces your risks at 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.
Additional Trainings During Volunteer Service
In its commitment to institutionalize quality training, the Peace Corps has implemented a training system that provides 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 three training events. The titles and objectives for those trainings are as follows:
- 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.
- Midterm conference (done in conjunction with technical sector in-service): Assists Volunteers in reviewing their first year, reassessing their personal and project objectives, and planning for their second year of service.
- Close-of-service conference: Prepares Volunteers for the future after Peace Corps service and reviews their respective projects and personal experiences.
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.