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12/8/9 Volunteer Support Network

I haven't talked about VSN, have I?

Let me rectify that.

Many Peace Corps countries have a Volunteer Support Network. Of course, we're all each others' support network anyway, but organizing a VSN means that we can get some funding for formal training sessions. At these, second-year Volunteers teach selected PCVs active listening skills and other peer counseling tools. Once you've gone through this, you're known as a VSN-trained Volunteer. (Sorry, no snazzy acronym or anything.)

VSN-trained Volunteers distribute their phone numbers and other contact information to their fellow PCVs, but it's rare (though not unheard-of) for Volunteers to cold-call a VSN-trained PCV. We do most of our work more informally; when a friend says, "I need to talk," or "Wow, I'm going through a hard time,",we can respond more usefully than just saying, "Oh, me too, let me tell you..."

VSN training takes place during the first six months of service. After that, during the six-month-mark "In-Service Training (IST)", PCVs choose one of their VSN-trained Volunteer peers to join the VSN Committee.

The Committee organizes the trainings, creates the curricula, and organizes a variety of Volunteer-supportive activities, from Secret Snowflake exchanges to distributing cartoons and magazines to calling new PCVs and offering support.

We don't have a formal role within Peace Corps, really, but once in a while, PC staff looks to us to get a sense of the emotional status of the Volunteer community. Like now.

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