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Benefits of Hosting a Peace Corps Volunteer
Benefits of Hosting a Peace Corps Volunteer
BENEFITS OF HOSTING A PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEER
KALUSH MAYOR'S ASSISTANT ROMAN POPADYN CONSIDERS HIS CITY'S EXPERIENCE
Over the last decade, five Peace Corps volunteers have worked in the city of Kalush (Ivano-Frankivsk oblast). Two of the five volunteers taught English and three shared their expertise in economic development. Kalush has unquestionably gained much from its collaboration. For their contributions, the Kalush community would like to express its deep gratitude.
Since 1997, Peace Corps "Business Development Project" volunteers have been working with the Kalush City Council's Executive Committee. This was a strategic decision, as Kalush has put special emphasis on economic development, and their aspirations have yielded appreciable results. Thanks to volunteer Vasyl Litkevych, the Executive Committee was able to prepare and issue an economic handbook, "Together Towards the Future," which enabled the city to publicize local enterprises to foreign embassies and missions. The initiative was funded by the Peace Corps and the International Renaissance Foundation.
Kalush Peace Corps volunteer Juan Carlos Campos receives flowers at the celebration on the first day of school.
Today, volunteer Juan Carlos Campos is working in Kalush. Over the past two years, he has consulted on the writing of grant proposals (most of which successfully gained support), participated in the development of business plans, and offered advice on marketing and other economic disciplines to small-business owners. In addition, he actively assisted in organizing the international music festival, Blues Brothers -- 2001, as well as an international seminar on economics and various other training courses. He also consulted on the creation of the city's strategic plan for economic development. Currently, he is working to create a business incubator, assisting the development of a Kalush web site, and updating the city's economic handbook.
Kalush gained particularly from the assistance of Peace Corps volunteers in implementing the Community Partnerships Project. The volunteers acted as intermediaries between Kalush and its partner city, Little Rock, Arkansas. Their assistance was especially helpful in facilitating communication via e-mail. Furthermore, during the visits of training delegations from Little Rock, we sought their help in facilitating faster adaptation of our partners to the local environment. In addition, the volunteers delivered information about the city in a more comprehensible format than Kalush citizens would have been able to do on their own. (It is no secret that our mentality and values differ substantially from those of Americans.) At this stage, Kalush is encouraging the Peace Corps to recruit a volunteer from Little Rock. We believe that the activities in Kalush of a Peace Corps volunteer representing Little Rock would contribute to increased efficiency in the Kalush-Little Rock partnership.
How Can a City Increase a Volunteer's Effectiveness?
As we see it, a volunteer's work is typically subdivided into several stages:
1. First of all, you have to clearly define the purpose of the volunteer's involvement, and how he/she can be properly accommodated.
2. This must be communicated clearly to Peace Corps/Ukraine and included in a formal request for a volunteer to be placed in your city. You will be sent a special questionnaire. A Peace Corps representative may visit the volunteer's future place of work and meet with prospective supervisors.
3. Focus on matters that frequently will attract the particular attention of the Peace Corps management: brief background data on the city (history and traditions), the volunteer's two-year work plan within an organization, and a description of his/her work tasks.
4. Be especially precise in defining the experience you wish the volunteer to possess (an expert in business planning, a marketing specialist). In America, expertise tends to be more narrowly specialized, and it may prove difficult to find a volunteer who has broad professional interests and abilities.
5. To assure the efficiency of a volunteer's work, is it advisable to offer him/her basic accommodations. A two-room apartment with all the modern conveniences will suffice. A phone is highly desirable; not only will it make life easier for the volunteer, but for you, as well, when an urgent need arises to find him/her. If it is a room in a family house, there has to be a separate entrance for security considerations.
6. The workplace should be a room with a desk and a bookshelf. Again, a phone is highly desirable to make life easier for all parties. A small safe would be useful as, in most cases, volunteers are conscious of computer scarcity at governmental institutions, so they bring their own laptops and various accessories (digital photo and video cameras, etc.). A safe enables the volunteer to leave equipment at work. A place may be assigned in a room with others; it may even help the volunteer to better adapt to the working atmosphere, to feel part of the team, and to improve his/her language skills.
7. An English-speaking employee must be found to work with the volunteer (as not all volunteers are fluent in Ukrainian) and help him/her in solving various issues that may arise during the term of service.
1. Peace Corps headquarters in Kyiv will inform you when a volunteer accepts your invitation and the program you offered, and then your representative will travel with him/her to your city. The volunteer's first visit to a city is called an assessment trip because he/she will spend 10 days in the city and, after that, will go to a Peace Corps training camp to receive training in various disciplines in order to make his/her activities in Ukraine more efficient.
2. During the first three or four months after the training camp, the volunteer must receive regular guidance and assistance in making new acquaintances and forging ties with people from all sorts of NGOs, business managers (if the volunteer is an expert in economic development), and city government officials. This will facilitate future operations.
3. A work plan must be drafted for the volunteer, to enable him/her to better define the lines of activity and to focus on fulfilling the tasks set for him/her.
1. It is advisable to require that the volunteer produce regular reports on his/her activities (at least monthly). This will help you and the volunteer to adjust the work plan should any changes emerge, and possibly to find other ways to meet objectives.
2. A volunteer's efficiency will strongly depend on the office equipment available at his/her workplace (whether there is a computer at his/her disposal) and the quality of communications (access to fax, phone, and Internet).
3. Should an opportunity arise for the volunteer to attend various kinds of seminars, outside the city and even the country, such participation should be approved. New impressions and acquaintances may boost the fulfillment of tasks and lay the groundwork for new projects.
4. When the volunteer has the opportunity to take part in any projects that are not directly related to his/her basic activities, this must be supported, too, unless it could hinder the work on the principal tasks.
The volunteer must write his/her final report on the entire period of activity. The document will examine the volunteer's experience and accomlishments, and assess the value of inviting another volunteer to continue working.
by Roman Popadyn, Assistant to the Mayor of Kalush.
For more information, phone (03472) 2-2942 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.