The Peace Corps of the United States was first established in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy with three main GOALS:
1. To Make available to interested countries and areas, men and women of the Unites States qualified for service abroad and willing to serve, under conditions of hardship if necessary; to help peoples of such countries in meeting their needs for trained manpower, particularly in meeting the basic needs of those living in the poorest areas of such countries.
2. To help promote a better understanding of the American people on the par of the people served, and
3. A better understanding of other peoples on the part of the American people.
In summary, "to promote world peace and friendship through a Peace Corps."
Peace Corps volunteers (PCV's) are Americans - young and old, of all races and backgrounds - who make a commitment to serve in countries that have requested assistance. They often emphasize basic human needs: health and nutrition, food and water, knowledge and skills, economic development and income, housing, energy and conservation, and community service. These needs almost invariably require work at a person-to-person "grassroots" level. For this reason, Volunteers live at the same economic level as the people they serve, and they speak the local language.
Since the first Peace Corps Volunteers arrived in Ghana, West Africa, in 1961, for than 150,000 Americans have served in over 100 different countries with the Peace Corps. They have worked within the Three Goals of the Peace Corps to help others solve their problems in ways that are sensitive to the cultural values and appropriate to the available resources of their communities. Their efforts have supplemented rather than substituted for the efforts of host-country people. Volunteers work with the goal of reducing dependency, serving only at the invitation of host nations interested in defining their own development goals.
The developmental and human accomplishments of the Peace Corps are often on easily measured.
Through the Peace Corps, thousands of American volunteers have been given the opportunity to share in the devel9opment of a rapidly changing world and to have a hand, even if only a small one, in shaping how some of the world's neediest people live. At the same time, through the Peace Corps, the world has been allowed a very personal view of individual Americans putting their ideals to work.
PEACE CORPS KIRIBATI PROGRAM
Historical Perspective:The Peace Corps presence in the Republic of Kiribati began with the placement of a single volunteer in 1973. Until 1988 the program was administered from the Peace Corps office in the Solomon Islands. For most of these early years, the number of volunteers remained under ten per year and assignments were spread throughout a wide variety of projects.
The first significant expansion occurred in 1979 as the Republic of Kiribati was formed. Twelve health and water supply/sanitation volunteers began their service in Kiribati that year. Through 1987 volunteers in Kiribati numbered between 12 and 18, and during the mid 80's programming was focused on education assignments.
With the arrival of the first Country Director in 1998, Peace Corps established an independently administered post on Tarawa, the capital. The second significant expansion occurred in 1977 with the launching of the Rural Community Health Promotion Project. Twenty-seven trainees arrived in the first group raising the total number of volunteers serving in Kiribati to about 40.
The Peace Corps office was moved from Tebunia to Newareware in 1999. The new office consists of two buildings, a converted house, which serves as the administrative building and a new building for the resource center and medical office.
The 25th group of volunteers began their service in early 1999, marking the 25 years of Peace Corps work in Kiribati.
Current Primary Projects:Nearly all-volunteer assignments are on the Outer Islands of the Gilbert Group. Current Peace Corps Kiribati projects are in education and health education. In addition, Volunteers have served as lecturers at the Kiribati Teachers College and others have worked with curriculum development and beginning in 1999 with community environmental awareness.
Education Primary/Junior Secondary Education Volunteers work with I-Kiribati teachers as teacher trainers in the primary schools and as teachers in junior secondary schools.
In the Primary Schools, the Volunteers work to enhance the teaching skills of I-Kiribati teacher counterpart though the delivery of in-service training and co-teaching/co-planning. The subject focus includes English, math and science.
In the Junior Secondary Schools, the Volunteer teach and assist teaching business/accounting, English, math and science.
At Kiribati Teachers College, Volunteers are teaching business, accounting, math, science and English. They also contribute to school administration, develop classroom materials and coach the basketball team. Recent lecturers have taught teaching methodologies.
At the Curriculum Development Resource Center, volunteers have contributed to curriculum development in English, science and environmental studies.
Environment:A Volunteer has extended for a third year to work in Environmental Education with the Ministry of Environment and Social Development, Environmental Unit. This is the first Volunteer to work directly in the environmental sector. The Ministry collaborates with the Foundation for People of the Sorth Pacific (FSP), the local drams group. Volunteers in Service Overseas (VSO) and the South Pacific Regional Environmental Programme (SPREP). The initial focus will be on South Tarawa.
Rural Community Health Promotion Peace Corps is collaborating with the Ministry of Environment and Social Development, the Ministry of Health and Family Planning and the Ministry of Home Affairs and Rural Development to promote preventative health and healthy lifestyles on the outer islands of the Gilbert Group.
The Rural Community Health Promotion Project was designed not only to extend health education and awareness, but also to promote healthy behaviors and attitudes. The project is focused on Water and Sanitation throughout the country. On each island, volunteers complete a community assessment with local people to understand their health needs and the topics the community feels are most important.
Volunteers work with several counterparts including The Island Clerks, Medical Assistants, and Island Community Workers, Woman's Interest Workers and occasionally the Agricultural Assistant. They collaborate with NGOs and local women and youth group in promotional and education activities.
Volunteers Currently Working in Kiribati25 Education Total
03 Kiribati Teachers College
19 Rural Community health
01 Environmental Education
Future Projects:Peace Corps Kiribati continues to improve and develop current projects, while it explores opportunities to strengthen and broaden the Peace Corps presence in Kiribati in other sectors such as the environment and youth. Peace Corps Kiribati has played a supporting role in cooperation with UNESCO in youth initiatives, like the Brisbane and Teinainano Urban Council (TCU) youth forums.
Volunteer Recruitment and Training
1. Must be a citizen of the United States of America.
2. There are no restrictions in regards to sex, age, race or religion.
3. Must be in good health and suffer no disabilities that would hinder their work.
4. Must possess education and/or experience required by the agency requesting a Volunteer.
(In general, most volunteers have at least a Bachelor's Degree.)
5. Must intend to devote at least two years to carrying out their duties as a Volunteer.
Recruitment Process:In a given year, Peace Corps Washington receives approximately 1200,000 requests for information about the Peace Corps. Of these requests, 10,000 persons actually complete an application, and of these, 7,000 persons are "nominated" to a program. About half of that number are finally placed in a program.
The application process requires applicants to undergo an interview by a Peace Corps recruitment officer, submit six letters of recommendation, undergo a legal clearance and pass an extensive medical and dental examination. Those who qualify are matched to country specific programs in accordance with the applicant's skills and background. The applicant accepts or rejects the assignment to a job description in a specific country. This job description is prepared by the Ministry and Peace Corps Kiribati. v
Training:Prior to being sent to work in Kiribati, Volunteers must successfully complete an In-Country Pre-Service Training Course (PST). This training lasts for 10-11 weeks and begins as soon as trainees arrive in Kiribati.
Occasionally a trainee decides during PST that Peace Corps Service is not how he/she wishes to dedicate two years at that time. Occasionally Peace Corps may decide that a trainee does not meet its requirements and the needs of the government and People of Kiribati and the trainee is asked to resign.
The Volunteer's two-year service begins at the successful completion of the PST. In PST trainees learn:
· To begin to use the Kiribati language;
· To make the necessary transition to living and working effectively in a Kiribati community;
· The goals and objectives of the project and organization they are assigned to;
· Their roles/task in the project;
· Their work with Ministry (Sponsor) personnel, particularly their supervision and co-workers; and
· To adapt their technical skills to those needed in their assignment.
THE LIFE OF A PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEER
Who are the Peace Corps Volunteers:Most Americans choosing Peace Corps service are individuals with a willingness to devote themselves to serving in other countries in areas of health, education, agriculture, etc. By working and living together, I-Kiribati and Americans will further develop the relationship between the two countries. The relationship fosters a more complete bridge to understanding. Volunteers work without payment; instead "Friendship" provides the foundation for "Peace" which is in turn the ultimate goal.
Coming from varied backgrounds and experience, each volunteer will have his/her own unique feelings and behaviors. Ability to adjust to a new country with different weather, culture, language, and food will vary among Volunteers; for some the transition is easy, for some difficult, and for others it is impossible. Learning and adapting to the environment is the most important consideration involved in efficiently and successfully achieving the goals of Peace Corps.
Living Allowance:Because PCV's are "volunteers", they do not receive a salary. However, they do receive a living allowance that allows them to buy food and other necessary supplies. This living allowance is provided to the PCV, through Peace Corps by the Government of the United States of America.
While Peace Corps volunteers are recruited for a specific assignment, many of them find other ways to serve and share with their communities. Some of the secondary projects that Volunteers have worked on are school libraries, school gardens, coaching sports, health education, sanitation, environment clubs, science clubs, student canteens, seed of the month promotion, water catchments, etc.
Peace Corps Director - Mark Gearan
Country Desk Officer - Doug Weisburger
Country Desk Assistant - Vernon Hankerson