Peace Corps Ukraine: What is My Actual Job?
So I realize that a lot of people don't actually know what it is that I do here in Ukraine. I haven't posted anything about it and have only ever had some casual conversations about what it is that I might do. But now that I am at my official site and will be here for two years, I figured it was about time I gave a better explanation of how I spend my time.
I am stationed at the Windows on America Center at the Library in my city. After speaking with my counterpart and my lead specialist, I am a little bit more of a community volunteer that is not stuck within the confines of just working with the library. WOA is a US embassy funded program which means I don't really need to assist my organization in ways a lot of other volunteers can at their sight because they do not need it. These things such as grant writing or strategic planning assistance.
I have spent these first months getting to know my library and getting to know the community. I try and meet with as many change agents in the city to do a needs assessment of what they city needs and how I can assist or facilitate that with the experience and opportunities I have.
All of this is speculation as I am still in my needs assiginment phase but continue reading to discover goal by goal how my station will align with the project goals of my sector.
Community Economic Development Volunteer Goals.
So I am classified as a community economic development volunteer. Just like the Peace Corps has three goals. Our sector has three goals as well.
Goal 1: Citizen Participation and Service Learning.
This focuses on participation on civil society resource management in regards to community development. They also have objectives within each goal. Goal one focuses on leadership, civic engagement, service learning, and advocacy/ networking skills.
How I can implement goal one at my site is through conducting trainings for community members and NGOs in our city. Those trainings can focus on things like project design management, networking skills, strategic planning, business English, or grant writing.
Goal 2 : Organizational Development
This involves helping organizations build their institutional capacity in regards to programming, resource diversification and planning. The objectives involve Financial Stability and Project Management.
Again for me this goal will most likely come to fruition through leading training seminars or partnering with secondary organizations to help advise them on these areas.
Goal 3: Economic Opportunities
This goal is about community members improving their business skills and cultivating new economic opportunities to benefit their communities. An object is to increase Entrepreneurship skills.
A lot of how my time will be spent is using the space at the library to facilitate trainings that help to achieve the aforementioned goals.
Another important part of the Peace Corps is realizing that you signed up for the Peace Corps. By doing this you are basically saying that you are willing to do what your organizations needs. Help proof this legal translation. Sure. Help proof a translation of a book? Sure. Start an English film club? Sure!
We are here to get to know this culture and to teach them about our culture.
So what do I actually do:
Since I am only a little over a month into my permanent site I am learning more and more each day about the city and how it functions. I try and meet as many people as I can and use them to connect me with other people in the city. This has allowed me to get a better understanding of the pulse of the city and the things that it might need.
It is expected that during your first 3 months you are to spend that time helping where needed and conducting needs assessments. We are not encouraged to start projects until after that time to give us a chance to learn what our community needs and to not just steam roll them and do what we want.
A typical day for me right now starts with me doing an hour or two of language. Then I will either plan my weekly English club or conduct research on a topic that someone in a previous meeting has brought up. Lastly, usually in the afternoons, I will try and meet with people in the community. My days are as busy as I make them. During this time it is really easy to become complacent and to not take the initiative to get out there and get things done.
My overall goal for my time here in the city is to help change the mind set from the citizens being spectators, to taking a hand in the game. ( here is looking at you Webb)