Peace Corps Description of Programs in Russia

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By Admin1 (admin) on Saturday, July 07, 2001 - 5:45 pm: Edit Post

Peace Corps Description of Programs in Russia

Peace Corps Programs in Russia

Russia is a vast and complex country that is undergoing rapid change in its transition to democracy and a free-market economy. The fast pace of Moscow stands in stark contrast to the quiet life of country villages where little has changed. These contrasts and complexities can make life both frustrating and exhilarating for Peace Corps Volunteers. Those who take the challenge have the incredible opportunity to promote mutual understanding between our countries while making a real contribution toward Russia's development.

Peace Corps Volunteers actively provide English and business education and support to government officials, entrepreneurs, organizations, schools and institutes, professional associations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Volunteers develop new curriculum and materials for Russian business and language trainers. By imparting skills in English and business, Volunteers are instrumental in preparing young Russians to participate in the global economy. Peace Corps Volunteers also are making important contributions to Russia's challenging transition to a democratic society and a free-market economy. Volunteers are helping to disseminate practical business information, build new civic institutions, revitalize education and protect the environment.

The first Peace Corps Volunteers went to Russia in 1992. Since those early days, the program has expanded. Volunteers now have the opportunity to work in all parts of Russia, from Kaliningrad to the Pacific Ocean. Our Western Russian program is administered from Moscow, while our Russian Far East program is administered from Peace Corps' office in Vladivostok, Russia's principal port city on the Pacific Coast. Peace Corps Volunteers in Russia, whether they serve in the Far East or in Western Russia, have one thing in common: they live in an always interesting, ever evolving environment.

English Education
English Education Volunteers serve both in the Russian Far East and in Western Russia. They work as English language instructors at secondary schools, colleges, universities and teacher training institutions, specialized academies and a variety of other organizations. They have assisted in the formation of English language teacher associations on national and regional levels and English clubs at local levels. They also get involved in community activities and projects, such as constructing a playground, volunteering in orphanages or teaching computer skills at local resource centers.

Within its English Educational sector, the program in the Russian Far East also looks for some Volunteers who have experience or interest in business and the environment. Often these Volunteers conduct secondary projects that incorporate these interests and experience, such as Environmental English summer camps or workshops to teach basic business skills. If they are able, Volunteers may tailor their primary role as English teacher to include ecology and science lessons or basic business language and practices.

Business Education
Business Education Volunteers serve in communities across Western Russia to increase both the English skills and awareness of free-market business practices and theories among Russian entrepreneurs, NGO leaders, and students. While the primary focus of most business Volunteers is teaching business English, they also have been successful in introducing courses and designing curriculum in human resource management, marketing, and business ethics to the schools and business institutions where they teach.

Business Volunteers are busily engaged in secondary projects such as small-scale textile projects or assisting in setting up local computer labs. One Volunteer helped to organize a cafe in an orphanage, where the orphans work and gain valuable job skills.

Living in Russia
Living in Russia, whether in the Far East or the West, is an interesting and challenging experience. Living arrangements will be modest. Depending on the sponsoring organization, Volunteers may live in a small apartment, a dorm, a small house, or with a host family, often sharing some facilities.

Volunteers who come to Russia with flexibility, a sense of humor and a strong desire to help will find a rich and rewarding experience. Though they will encounter frustrations, those will be balanced with an appreciation of the land's beauty, ancient architecture, the inherent warmth of the people and a sense of making a contribution to Russia at a turning point in history.

The Russian Far East
Volunteers in the Far East area of Russia work in villages, towns and smaller cities where few foreigners ever visit, and have the chance to experience the region's unspoiled natural beauty. Volunteers may live in a small apartment or a stand-alone house. An apartment will have a kitchen, a living/bedroom, a bathroom and central heating and water. Stand-alone houses are roomier, but may require different daily activities chopping wood, bringing in water from a well, and using an outhouse.

Whatever living accommodations they have, Volunteers in the Russian Far East encounter a warm and supportive reception in a place where they may try new ideas. Volunteers have found friendships as a result of the close nature of Russian life, where they know fellow teachers, neighbors and children. Free time might be spent hiking in the forest to pick mushrooms, joining a local choral group, or ice fishing.

Western Russia
The majority of Volunteer sites in Western Russia are in small cities and large towns. On the surface they may seem fairly "western" and modern large populations, modern buildings, etc. But underneath you will find very Russian elements. In some cities, phones in homes have just recently become the norm, the availability of hot water is sporadic in certain locales, especially in summer, and many shops still open and close at the owner's whim. Yet the Russian people have a spirit of generosity that helps many Volunteers forget these inconveniences. Even in the cities, Volunteers have found that many people, from their adopted babushka to the man running the food stall, "magically" know their names and will look out for them from the time of their arrival.

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