What is the Youth Development/Youth Initiative Program and what can I expect as a YD volunteer?
Your PC Training Officer, YD Program Head, and another YD expert from PC Washington came to visit a couple of sites (including mine) recently to talk to current PCVs and develop the program. We held focus groups with youth, they looked at our projects, and we all offered feedback for the program. I for one was heartened by the progress that had been made. The goals of the YD program are a lot more concrete now than an organizational fix-all. Though you will still be working through youth orgs, you will also have realizable goal markers in working directly with youth, which is more graspable, accessible and under the PCV’s own control in case anything is lacking in your org itself. You also will have a nice system of “target points” for your first 6 months at site, which will guide you much more concretely in what you are supposed to be doing, and that build off each other (e.g., community asset mapping when you get to site. start one english club with local youth. do one community needs assessment. design one project with your org, involving youth volunteers. etc.). Later on in your service, you can start working on some larger goals that build off your direct youth and org work: working with other youth orgs to build networking, with parents, and with local community/government partners. And your placement org will have an outline of these clearer and more concrete expectations, as well. Hopefully there will no longer be the muddled expectation that you will re-design the complete strategic plan of your org when you arrive, or that your main job is only to land them grants. Your main job is to work with the youth in the now famous “Three Pillars” of YD: Healthy Lifestyles (including sexual health, nutrition, exercise), World of Work (professional development, language development), and Leadership (a nice catch-all whose main goal I interpret to be sustainability. You want the kids to lead their own projects and have their own skills once you’re gone). It is much more graspable by the human mind than the amorphous blob that was OD, IMHO.
So what might you be doing? Some “YD”-type sites I know of:
-Helping youth build a peer-to-peer network of young educators in sexual/reproductive health
-Working with a youth bank doing microfunding to youth-organized community projects
-An orphanage site where you will help orphaned youth gain life skills and transition into the “real world” once they leave at an older age
-A business site where you will help youth with their entrepreneurial ideas and do financial education
-A study abroad institute that helps kids gain scholarships or opportunities for educational exchange
Will all of your organizations be fully functional? No. I’m sure you will deal with all of the frustrations and craziness that the OCAPpers of both OD and YD have faced at their orgs this year and in years before (that’s a whole other cup of tea, haha!). However, at least your program goals are more refined now, and PC really does give excellent training that will now be usefully tailored to your job working with youth.