Training in Mongolia
Pre-service training (PST) is a critical time for future Volunteers. It is a time to gather the tools you will use during your service; to work through culture shock and get an idea of the reality of working in a country other than one’s own; and to test your assumptions and expectations about Mongolia and its people, your general role in development, and your particular assignment and living conditions.
The pre-service training hub site is based in a provincial town center, not in Ulaanbaatar, and lasts 11 weeks. You will stay at the provincial center with your training group for a few days before moving in with a host family located within one to two hours of the provincial center. The training group will be dispersed among a number of host communities. Married couples will be placed in separate host communities during pre-service training. This community-based approach places Volunteers in more realistic situations and begins to develop community integration skills early on.
The typical training day—running from approximately 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.—consists of four hours of language class, followed by integrated activities and sessions on cross-cultural issues, technical skills related to your assignment, and personal health and safety. Each trainee is responsible for his or her preparation for becoming a Volunteer and is expected to take full advantage of what is offered. The Peace Corps staff strives to maintain an open and supportive learning environment and will provide objective feedback to help trainees develop behaviors that will lead to smoother cultural integration and more effective service.
An assessment process will help monitor your progress toward accomplishing the objectives of each training component. You will conduct ongoing self-assessment, and the training staff will make periodic assessments of your progress. The training staff will be available to help you in any areas of concern. You must successfully complete the training objectives before you can be sworn in as a Volunteer.
Technical training will prepare you to work in Mongolia 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, Mongolian 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.
Technical training will include sessions on the environment, economics, and politics in Mongolia and strategies for working within such a framework. You will review your technical sector’s goals and will meet with the Mongolian 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 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.
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. Mongolian language instructors teach formal language classes five days a week in small groups of five to six people.
Language training utilizes a community-based approach. This approach focuses on developing the language skills needed to function successfully in daily living situations. 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 on your own. Prior to swearing in as a Volunteer, 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 Mongolian host family. This homestay experience is designed to ease your transition to life at your site. 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 Mongolia. Mongolian host families take an active role in your training, making it more practical and reality based. Many Volunteers form strong and lasting friendships with their host families.
Cross-cultural and community development are covered to help improve your skills of perception, communication, and facilitation.
The concept of of cross-cultural training selected for Mongolia are: culture, cross culture and survival skills. You will learn about Mongolian culture and how Peace Corps Volunteers cross, or function, within that Mongolian cultural framework as Americans. You will also learn the survival skills necessary to live in the Mongolian countryside.
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 Mongolia. 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 risk in your 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 Training During Volunteer Service
In its commitment to institutionalize quality training, the Peace Corps has implemented a training system that provides trainees and 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 follow.
- In-service training (IST): Provides an opportunity for Volunteers to upgrade their technical and language skills while sharing their experiences and reaffirming their commitment after having served for three to six months.
- Project Design and Management (PDM) Workshop: Provides first-year Volunteers with the opportunity to work with a representative from their host community to develop skills in participatory community development and the design and management of successful small-scale development projects.
- Close-of-service conference (COS): 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.