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2/11/09 The Sectors: Youth Development

As part of my ongoing, every-other-day series on Peace Corps, I'm going to discuss each of the four sectors in which PCVs serve, here in Morocco: Youth Development, Small Business Development, Health, and Environment. They are four of the five most-populous sectors in all of Peace Corps, so this should be useful information for Peace Corps applicants, regardless of which country or region they're hoping for. Today, I'll focus on Youth Development, aka YD.

Youth Development Volunteers spend most of their time with young people, not surprisingly. They work at youth centers, summer camps, schools, and anywhere else the youth congregate. Here in Morocco, most YD Volunteers go to a Dar Chebab (youth center, literally a "House of Young People") to teach daily English classes. As I mentioned a few days ago, Moroccans who get to work with these native speakers end up speaking much more fluidly, not to say fluently, than students who encounter English only through Victorian novels. That then opens opportunities to live and work abroad, or with tourists or the government here in Morocco. YD Volunteers also run week-long English Language Immersion camps for advanced students, during Spring Break and throughout the summer.

Perks of YD:

Because they go to the Dar Chebab nearly every day, YD volunteers have the closest approximation of a 9-5 job that you'll find in Peace Corps. If that kind of structure is important to you, Youth Development may be a good fit. Also, YD volunteers are always placed in the bigger towns and smaller cities. (Rural villages don't have enough youth to support a Dar Chebab, and the biggest cities are forbidden for security reasons.) This means you'll have constant access to electricity, water, stores, cafes, restaurants... Nearly every YD volunteer I know has internet in their home and satellite cable TV. Many have hot water heaters, too. If you prefer this slightly-more-comfortable lifestyle, this might be the sector for you. The final "perk" of this sector, some would argue, is that all YD Volunteers in Morocco learn Darija, the Moroccan dialect of Arabic. For anyone planning to work in the Middle East after Peace Corps, fluency in Darija is a big step towards fluency in the Standard Arabic spoken from the Levant to Egypt. Morocco PCVs who don't learn Darija learn a Berber dialect, which is spoken only in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia.

If you have any further questions, please let me know via email or by posting something in the comments.

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