I have just accepted a new challenge to become a Peace Corps Virtual Service Pilot Participant (VSPP) in the Philippines! I will be supporting high school teachers in the development and implementation of a revised STEM (Science, technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) curriculum over the next 23 weeks.
What is Peace Corps Virtual Service Pilot?
Virtual Service Pilot offers Returned Peace Corps Volunteers an opportunity to connect with Peace Corps host countries virtually by spending 5-15 hours per week collaborating on projects that advance the mission of Peace Corps. Participants do not actually sign a contract and engage in service as a traditional PC Volunteer, but serve as private citizens while maintaining their existing work and school commitments. I had numerous available projects to select from when I decided to pursue this opportunity ranging from supporting English enrichment activities for secondary students in Sri Lanka to supporting an Indigenous community in developing a business plan in Guyana. Most VSP projects are open to all RPCVs regardless of their original country of service, but some are restricted to RPCVs former country of service.
Is There a Language Requirement?
Some of the VSP projects I looked at did have a language requirement such as having fluency in Spanish or Arabic, but most require only English, like my current assignment with the Philippines.
Why Not Ecuador?
I did look at several VSP projects in Ecuador, our former country of PCV service for nearly three years, but decided that I wanted to experience a different country that didn’t have a language requirement (most Ecuador service opportunities do have a Spanish language requirement) and that aligned with my current professional interests.
How Do You Apply?
The application process was simple and straightforward. First (August 19), I sent an expression of interest in the Philippines project through the RSVP portal that included a Cover Letter and copy of my CV. The Virtual Service Pilot Team in Washington, D.C then contacted me within a few days on August 23 indicating they had received my expression of interest. On August 26 I received another email indicating my expression of interest in the project was under consideration and I was invited to register for an online VSP orientation session, which I attended on September 7 consisting of a short PowerPoint presentation about VSP service. This was followed by a link to an electronic form I needed to sign to confirm my continued interested in becoming a VSP Volunteer. On September 14, I was notified that my application had been accepted and I was asked to sign a Statement of Virtual Engagement (SoVE). On September 29, I received a formal welcome from Tale del Rosario of US Peace Corps Philippines that included details of my start of virtual orientation on October 12. Thus, from my first expression of interest August 19 to September 14, the application process from beginning to acceptance took a little more than three weeks with a formal welcome on September 29.
What Will I Be Doing?
The SoVE contract reads:
The VSPP will engage at a general level in the following tasks, in collaboration with their Host Country Partners:
Assist in the review of the PSHS Curriculum Framework and provide advice for its continuous revision and improvement, including modes of delivery, monitoring, and evaluation.
Recommend and conduct a select number of workshops or seminars on STEM curriculum development including topics such as STEM assessment, monitoring and evaluation, current trends in STEM curriculum and standards, among others.
Assist in creating up to at least 3 engaging learning activities and compelling course content, as well as recommending modern educational methods to teach STEM, e.g. teaching of project-based learning, performance-based, or interdisciplinary projects/activities especially within the limitations of community quarantine restrictions and online learning.
I plan to blog on a regular basis about my virtual service engagement with this project and invite you to joint me on this new journey! I encourage all RPCVs and those of you who may be interested in Peace Corps service to check out the following links.