Training in Jamaica
Once you arrive in Jamaica, you will participate in an intense, eight-week training program, beginning with four days of orientation in a university campus setting. There, you will be introduced to the staff and support services pertaining to medical and administrative matters, as well as to cross-cultural, safety and language issues, and local cuisine.
You will then be divided into your technical skill groups and depart to a community to take part in community-based training for approximately seven and half weeks, living with a Jamaican family while gaining technical skills and adjusting to the language, culture, climate, and food. Training uses current adult-learning methodologies. During the final week, you will come together as a larger group again to process your experience, complete your assessment, and finalize your commitment before being sworn-in as a Peace Corps Volunteer.
You, along with your training staff, will assess your progress throughout training to ensure you are meeting or exceeding the expectations of training. You will engage in a number of assessment exercises during pre-service training, which will enable you to accumulate points toward swearing- in. Toward the end of pre-service training, each trainee will participate in a final oral exam before a panel of Peace Corps staff, trainers, and host agency partners as a final assessment to determine suitability for swearing-in. After the satisfactory completion of training, you will be sworn-in as a Peace Corps Volunteer.
Technical training will prepare you to work in Jamaica 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, Jamaican experts, and current Volunteers will facilitate 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 Jamaica and strategies for working within such a framework. You will review your sector’s technical goals and will meet with the Jamaican agencies and organizations that invited the Peace Corps to assist them. You will be supported and evaluated by training staff throughout the training to build the confidence and sharpen the skills you need to undertake your project activities and be a productive member of your community.
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 the new surroundings.
Community-based training will provide the opportunities for you to learn the Jamaican Creole (patois). 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 once you are at your site. Prior to being sworn in as a Volunteer, you will work on strategies to continue language studies during your two years of service.
- Getting the language and understanding when to bust out your patois versus speaking "American" or using the Queen's English is key to integrating, bargaining for the right price, and just getting by. Take advantage of listening to popular Jamaican music and watching movies before you get on island, and then make an effort to learn patois from your community facilitators and friends as well as from the trainer.
As part of your pre-service training, you will live with a Jamaican 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 Jamaica. 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. 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 Jamaica. 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 your risks at home, at work, and while traveling. 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 service, there are three or four training events. The titles and objectives for those trainings are as follows:
- Early service conference: 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.
- In-service training (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.
- All-Volunteer conference: Supports Volunteers if and when the need arises.
- Close-of-service conference: Prepares Volunteers for life 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.