Training in Guinea
The goal of pre-service training (PST) is to provide Volunteers the skills needed to be successful and solve most problems at their post on their own. You should be able to rely on Guinean counterparts, friends, and your community, rather than fellow Americans, as your primary support group. By the end of training, you will have the skills to integrate rapidly into your community and a clear understanding of your role as a Peace Corps Volunteer in your project and in the overall development of Guinea.
The PST program has four major components: language, technical, cross-cultural, and medical (which includes personal safety and security). In language training, you will learn French and local language skills, and explore ways to communicate across cultural barriers. From technical training sessions, you will acquire the skills needed to accomplish project objectives. Cross-cultural training sessions will help you adapt to Guinea’s culture. Medical sessions will teach you how to stay healthy and identify illnesses, and safety sessions will help you identify safety risks and prepare you to take responsibility for your own safety. The overall training program is designed to integrate as many of these components as possible into simultaneous training sessions.
Pre-service training is based in Forecariah, a semi-urban town about 60 miles (100 km) north of Conakry. During training, you will live with a Guinean family. Peace Corps’ language and cultural facilitators will live in the community with you (one per four trainees).
Trainees and Volunteers in Guinea consistently rate the host family experience as the most challenging and meaningful aspect of training. The challenge lies in adapting to the basic living conditions of a Guinean village and communicating before you've learned the basics of French and your local language. You will have a private room with a bed and a mosquito net. Toilet facilities usually consist of an outdoor pit latrine and bathing is done with water in a bucket in outdoor stalls—under the sun or stars! You will eat breakfast and dinner (and lunch on Saturdays and Sundays) with your host family.
Technical training will prepare you to work in Guinea 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. Peace Corps staff, Guinean 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 environment in Guinea, and strategies for working within such an environment. You will review technical sector goals, and will meet with the Guinean agencies and organizations that invited Peace Corps to assist them. You will be supported and evaluated throughout training to build the confidence and skills you need to undertake project activities.
As a Peace Corps Volunteer, you will find that 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 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. Guinean language instructors teach formal language classes five days a week in small groups of three to five people. You will learn both French and the local language—Pulaar, Maninka, or Soussou—most commonly spoken at your site.
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 with your host family and other members of the community. The goal is to get you to a point of basic social communication so that you can practice and further develop your language skills further on your own. Prior to being sworn in as a Volunteer, you will work on strategies to continue language studies during your two years of service.
As part of PST, you will live with a Guinean 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 learn the purpose of pre-service training and to assist them in helping you adapt to living in Guinea. 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 for development. You will be exposed to topics such as community mobilization, conflict resolution, gender and development, non-formal and adult education strategies, and traditional 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 and well-being by adhering to all medical policies. Trainees are required to attend all medical sessions. The topics include preventive health measures and minor and major medical issues that you might encounter while in Guinea. 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.
During the safety training sessions, you will learn how to adopt a lifestyle that reduces risks at home, at work, and during your travels. You will 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 service, there are usually three training events. The titles and objectives for these trainings are as follows:
- In-service trainings (ISTs): provide 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.
- Close-of-service (COS) 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 Peace Corps staff and Volunteers.