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KOSOVO

VOLUNTEER ASSIGNMENT DESCRIPTION


English Education

Country: (Post Name)

Program: English Education

Job Title: English Language Resource Teacher

Dates of Service: August 26, 2016 – August 26, 2018


Orientation Dates: June 3, 2016 – June 4, 2016

Pre-Service Training
(in Kosovo): June 5, 2016 to August 26, 2016

*dates subject to change

3520BR – 170
3519BR – 171
This document is intended to give an overview of the project you are invited to work on in the
Peace Corps. For more detailed information about Kosovo and living there, please read the
Welcome Book via the link included with your invitation and check out the related Web sites
referenced in the Welcome Book.

For further information about serving as a Volunteer in Kosovo, call the Country Desk Officer for
Kosovo at Peace Corps headquarters in Washington, D.C., (9AM to 5PM, EST):

Toll-free: 1-855-855-1961, press 1, then extension 1184;


or directly at (202) 692-1184
or via email at Kosovo@peacecorps.gov

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A NOTE FROM THE COUNTRY DIRECTOR
Dear Prospective Peace Corps Volunteer,

Congratulations on your invitation to join the third group of Peace Corps Volunteers to serve in
Kosovo. If you choose to accept, serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer will be one of the most
rewarding and challenging experiences of your life. Kosovo has a rich, complex history. There
have been many changes, some easier than others, and not all have gone smoothly. You will
find out about this, and more, if you accept your invitation to serve.

Peace Corps has only had Volunteers in Kosovo for two years, so you would be a member of the
third group in Kosovo. Being at a new Peace Corps post is both exciting and challenging and will
require you to be patient and flexible. In weighing this assignment, you need to consider the
reality that new country programs demand volunteers who can tolerate and thrive in an
environment of uncertainty and flux. Flexibility and adaptability – useful for any Peace Corps
volunteer – are critical in a new country. Change may prove to be the one constant throughout
your service.

Since we are all relatively new to Kosovo having only been here for two years, I must stress that
this description is a work in progress based upon the best information we have available to us
at this moment. Some elements may change significantly as we learn more about Kosovo and
your assignment.

We fully understand that this is a very important decision. In the sections that follow, you will
learn about the realities, challenges, and rewards of being a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kosovo.
You should read all of the information in this packet very carefully. After you have read it, give
yourself some time to think it over and base your decision on an honest assessment of your
ability, interest, life goals, and commitment to live and work for two years in an exciting but
unfamiliar culture.

The people of Kosovo, along with the Peace Corps staff members, look forward to meeting and
working with you over your 27-month service.

Stephen Kutzy
Country Director

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PEACE CORPS KOSOVO HISTORY
The history of the Peace Corps program in Kosovo began last year; hence, you will be a part of
the third group to serve in Kosovo.

In October 2012, the Republic of Kosovo invited Peace Corps to send an assessment team to
Kosovo for the purpose of establishing a program. A full assessment was completed in February
2013, including a safety and security assessment.

As mentioned above, our respective countries signed a new agreement regarding the
establishment of a Peace Corps program on September 9, 2013.

YOUR PRIMARY DUTIES


There is a need for English teachers in both primary and secondary schools (high schools),
especially in rural communities and smaller towns. Your skills as an English Language Resource
Teacher will help address the demand for English education in Kosovo. You will be assigned to a
secondary school, the location of which will depend on your skills and qualifications. Under an
agreement with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST), Peace Corps English
Language Resource Teachers work collaboratively with Kosovar teachers to promote new
teaching methods and approaches, especially interactive and communicative techniques.

Volunteers are involved in team-teaching with Kosovar teachers in the classroom;


sharing/preparing joint lesson plans with colleagues; preparing interactive teaching aids,
games, classroom materials; developing English language-centered extra-curricular activities
such as drama clubs, English clubs, and summer camps; sharing specific information about
American traditions and culture with students and colleagues; taking part in school events like
school patron day or events connected with Kosovo’s traditions. Every Volunteer’s experience is
unique and dependent upon the school’s needs, the teachers at the school, and the Volunteer’s
background and interests.

Note on team-teaching: the team-teaching method will be new to the Kosovar English teachers
as well as to most of the Volunteers. Before a team-teaching relationship can be successfully
established, it will require some time to get to know each other and learn about each other’s
personal characteristics and professional working styles. The process of team-teaching should
include shared lesson-planning, preparation of materials, and sharing teaching aids. The
ultimate purpose of working with a Volunteer is to add value to the school or working partners
through the joint efforts of all participants. Peace Corps will be monitoring and evaluating of
the impact of the Volunteer at his/her assignment. All counterparts will participate in, along
with PC staff and the Volunteer, the monitoring, reporting and evaluation of the skill areas they
have identified as priority areas to work with a PCV.

Most of the schools where Peace Corps places Volunteers to serve have limited resources for
materials. As an English Language Resource Teacher you will work with your Kosovar colleagues
and others in the community to develop strategies to improve the educational resources i n
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your school and community and to collaborate with teachers from various schools within the
same community.

Class size generally ranges from 25 to 35. School facilities are often not sufficient to effectively
absorb all the students.

The Kosovo educational system is staffed with teachers who are well-trained and experienced
in traditional teaching methods. Your teacher/colleague(s) may expect that you are an
experienced teacher. They will expect you to share your skills in applied and interactive
teaching methodologies, and to help them find ways to link classroom learning and extra-
curricular activities to relevant community issues. Beside team teaching in the classroom, there
are varieties of extracurricular activities that you can organize such as English clubs, drama
clubs, journalism club, debate club, ecology club, etc. Developing and adapting resource
materials and classroom teaching aids will also be part of your assignment. While some people
originally imagine that these expectations are a bit beyond their experience, their native
language ability, their willingness to share the innovative and creative side of American culture,
and the comprehensive technical training they receive prior to beginning their assignment all
serve to properly prepare them to meet the challenge of this assignment.

Finally, you will also act as a liaison between school and community by involving yourself in
community service activities such as community projects with local organizations, NGOs, clubs,
and/or groups and individuals. As a Volunteer, you are expected to work at your school the
majority of the time having the same working hours as your colleague teachers and are
encouraged to engage in community service activities after working hours. Volunteers will
inform their counterparts of these community service activities so that everyone involved is
fully aware of your activities. Always keep in mind that your school is the priority for you, since
they have expressed the need and requested to work with a Volunteer.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR SECONDARY/ COMMUNITY PROJECTS


Volunteers in Kosovo will have the ability to collaborate on a variety of interesting and high-
impact community outreach projects outside of their normal teaching duties. Examples include:
teaching English to co-teachers and other community members; conducting health education
awareness workshops for youth with local colleagues; and organizing training workshops on
how to write essays for teachers on a national level; organizing debate clubs; introducing and
coaching softball or baseball; working in a local orphanage; joining the school or community
ecology club; broadening resources in a local library; preparing materials and handbooks to
supplement newly introduced English texts and presenting a workshop on using the materials;
supporting public awareness campaigns in the areas of the environment, health, and women's
issues; planning and implementing projects for special needs schools or institutions for the
mentally or physically impaired; creating a web page for the city; starting or expanding upon an
existing sister city program with an American city; developing networks and special interest

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clubs; supporting women's groups; creating and teaching an English curriculum to a local group
of judges and legislators; supporting efforts by community groups or the local city
administration to publish needed community service information.

WORKING CONDITIONS
Available Resources:
The teaching staff and your school director will be your primary support system in identifying
resources available to you within your school and community. Your Peace Corps Program
Manager will be assisting you, your counterpart (the English teacher) and the school director
whenever needed, but it is expected that you will be independent and self-sufficient in your
work.

Your colleagues will be teaching from textbooks approved by the Ministry of Education, Science
and Technology. You, together with the English teachers at your school, are expected to follow
the national English language curriculum. Peace Corps does not provide you with the teaching
books required at the school. The schools provide Peace Corps Volunteers with textbooks, but it
may happen that the school is not in a financial position to provide textbooks for their teachers.
In this situation, you are expected to obtain the textbooks the same way your teaching
colleagues will. They either buy them on their own or borrow them. With the exception of
textbooks, most schools will not have any additional language teaching resources.

If you consider bringing (or sending) teaching materials, we recommend that you choose books
of interactive games and teaching ideas, or information about U.S. holidays and everyday life. If
considering work with younger students, it might be useful to bring picture flashcards and
cassette tapes with very simple songs for kids. Teaching materials with pictures are great to aid
dialogue, as story writing material, or as classroom decoration. A good definitive grammar
reference text will help when you're asked to explain unusual (or even common) aspects of the
English language. There is a well-stocked language teaching resource library at the Peace Corps
office in Pristina for your use. You may want to bring along markers, clear contact paper,
colored paper and chalk, and index cards for making materials as these are generally not
available or are too expensive to purchase in Kosovo. You may also wish to bring a laptop
computer and portable printer. Internet is widely available.

Location of Job:
You should come expecting that you may be placed in any region of Kosovo, and along with
that, under a wide range of living situations. With regard to the schools, a priority for the
Ministry of Education, Science and Technology in Kosovo and Peace Corps Kosovo are the
schools located in rural and smaller communities, where the need is greatest. Most Volunteers
live reasonably close to their place of work. Regardless of the location of your assignment, you
can have a successful and worthwhile experience in Kosovo. This is your experience, so please
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keep in mind that your success will depend mostly on how well you integrate into your worksite
and into your community. When placing Volunteers, we focus on a match between the needs of
the people of Kosovo and your individual skills.

Working Hours:
The working hours of your school may vary, depending on the size of the school. Most schools
in Kosovo operate on a two shift system, with some students attending school in the morning
and others in the afternoon. Your school director and your colleagues, in consultation with you,
will determine your working hours. Peace Corps Volunteers normally have a load of between 25
– 40 class hours of instruction per week (including both team teaching with your Kosovar
colleague/s, and working with the students on your own through different clubs).

It may be challenging for you to determine how many hours to devote to your school work, and
how many to your community service activities. In these situations it helps to be flexible and
ready for last-minute changes and be open to discussing your activities with your counterpart
and supervisor. When determining your working hours, always keep in mind that your school is
the priority. The community service activities should take place after the work at your school.
They are not a substitute for your responsibilities at school, but an opportunity for you to give
more to the community.

Cultural Attitudes and Customs in the Workplace:


Respect tends to come with age and experience in Kosovo. Younger Volunteers or those
without considerable teaching experience may encounter initial difficulty in gaining respect
from counterparts, supervisors and co-workers. No matter your age or experience, your
professional behavior—attendance, punctuality, cordiality with staff, appearance and
seriousness about teaching—will make your integration into the school and community easier.

Dress Code:
You will find that Kosovar teachers dress professionally at work. In order to ensure a look of
professionalism, you will need to dress the part. You will be judged by your appearance, often
before having the chance to prove who you are. Some schools are more relaxed about the
dress code, but other schools are more conservative. Both the teachers and the students wear
uniforms in some schools, while in others both can choose their own attire. You will always be
expected to dress more formally than your students. Men usually wear slacks and shirts
(sometimes a tie), and a sweater or a jacket in cooler weather. Women wear nice dresses, skirts
or slacks. Jeans have been accepted for both men and women, but you will have to watch your
colleagues’ dress style first or even ask your colleagues if this is acceptable in your school,
especially since the new dress guidelines have been introduced.

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TRAINING FOR YOUR JOB
Prior to being sworn in as a Peace Corps Volunteer, you will participate in an intensive Pre -
Service Training (PST) program (approximately 11 weeks). The training is conducted in Kosovo
and based on adult learning principles. It is a Community Based Training (CBT), which means
that you will be living in home stay families in smaller communities, and doing most of your
training work with a small group of other Trainees also assigned to that community. During
training you will focus on: 1) Albanian and/or Serbian language study (depending upon the
ethnic character of the organization or community where you will be working); 2) cross-cultural
adjustment and adaptation; 3) health and personal safety; and 4) technical skills development.

The language program is designed to provide you with the linguistic skills needed to function
successfully in everyday situations. By the end of training, you will develop basic proficiency in
the local language. The language topics include interpersonal relations, social language with
host family, money, communication (post office, telephone, etc.), housing, directions and
orientation, food, time and calendar, transportation and travel, shopping (food, clothing, etc.),
eating out, health, and talking about the Peace Corps. After training, Peace Corps supports
continued language study at your site.

Language study is important here. Outside the classroom, the majority of your colleagues and
students, as well as friends and neighbors, will likely speak the local language. We expect all
Volunteers to reach a reasonable level of fluency within their first six months on the job.

Your technical training will focus on methods and approaches of Teaching English as a Foreign
Language (TEFL) especially those appropriate for language teaching in Kosovo. The training will
introduce you to Kosovar schools -- the structure, teaching methods, the attitudes of teachers
and students, and the underlying philosophy of education upon which these are based. Training
provides practice in creating supplemental materials, peer observation, and an analysis of
teaching and learning behaviors. In addition, a teaching practicum with Kosovar students will
help you acquire new teaching skills, refine existing skills and gain a perspective of the Kosovar
classroom context. The training will also help you develop strategies to cope with workplace
challenges, especially in understanding the culture of work in the context of Kosovar schools.
The TEFL technical training will reinforce or develop the skills necessary for you to work
effectively with your new colleagues.

You will live with a Kosovar host-family during PST. Sharing meals, spending free time, and
celebrating holidays with a Kosovar family provides you with an excellent opportunity to
communicate with Kosovars and learn the language at a rapid pace. It will also help you to
understand cross-cultural differences between Americans and Kosovars. In cross-cultural
training, you will compare and contrast Kosovar and American values, attitudes and beliefs. You
will develop skills that will help you to adapt to a new culture, as well as learn important facts
about Kosovo’s politics, history and society.

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LIVING CONDITIONS
Most of the education assignments will be in villages and small towns of Kosovo. While some
places in Kosovo have good infrastructure and many of the aspects of modern living, many
others do not. Keep in mind that you are there to serve your community, regardless of the
standard of living available.

You will live with a host family for the two years of your service. Your host family will provide
you with the living space that meets Peace Corps criteria. The housing criteria are designed to
be modest, yet functional and safe. During the site identification process, Peace Corps
evaluates housing closely, ensuring that every host family meets the required standards (at
least one room, a separate or shared bathroom and kitchen, basic furniture, a shared entrance
and provisions for security).

POTENTIAL CHALLENGES & REWARDS


Please reference the Welcome Book for more detailed information regarding diversity and
cross-cultural issues, and safety and security in the Peace Corps.

Living and working in a different culture for over two years is challenging. Dealing with the
language barrier, different customs and work habits, feelings of homesickness, the challenge of
integrating into a new culture, and being isolated are but a few of the challenges that await you
as a Peace Corps Volunteer. It will take you at least a few months to feel integrated, to make
connections, and to find your own niche within your community. Kosovars are a hospitable
people, especially towards Americans, and always willing to make you feel welcome.
Nevertheless, one of the challenges is to recognize the differences between the U.S. and
Kosovo. You will discover that Kosovo is a country of contrasts. While you will find new stores,
see fashionable cars in the streets, and have Internet access, you will also encounter old-
fashioned, traditional elements. Kosovo is an interesting mixture of old and new, modern and
archaic. It will take time to discover that behind a surface of relative similarity to life in an
American town, exists a very different culture. You will need to keep your eyes open and ask
questions in order to discover that culture.

Working with limited resources will force you to make use of all your creativity and
resourcefulness. Lack of space, students and teachers at varying levels of English, and the
adjustments your colleagues and students will be making to work with a native speaker of
English and foreigner are certain to present some challenges. Diplomacy, persistence, creativity
and patience will be necessary as you negotiate schedules with co-workers, attempt to
motivate yourself and counterparts, work with little supervision, and persevere for what seems
like ages without seeing any visible impact or without receiving much feedback on your work.

Development is a slow process, and positive progress is sometimes seen only with the
combined efforts of several Volunteers over the course of many years. You must possess the
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self-confidence, patience and vision to continue working toward long-term goals without seeing
immediate results. To overcome these difficulties, you will need maturity, flexibility, open-
mindedness and resourcefulness. Challenges are there, no doubt, and they, as well as your
successes, will be part of your experience. The Peace Corps staff will support you in dealing with
these challenges. At the end of your service, you will remember the challenges, but most of all
you will realize that you have made an impact and you have changed some people’s lives —not
only by teaching English, but by demonstrating a different way of doing things and a different
way of thinking.

If you are able to make the commitment to integrate into your school and community and work
hard, you will be a successful Volunteer. The rewards are numerous and many times
unexpected. The reward of understanding a new language and culture is priceless. The reward
of feeling that you have made a difference is fulfilling. Probably the most striking reward will be
the friends that you will make in Kosovo, some of whom may become friends of a lifetime.

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