Where Can I Teach as a Volunteer
The Peace Corps serves 77 countries throughout the world in Eastern Europe, Central and East Asia, South and Central America , Africa, and the South Pacific. You could serve in places as different as Jamaica and Kazakhstan, as small as Tongo in the South Pacific or as large as China. As a volunteer teacher I served in two peripheral European countries, Ukraine and Albania. Both had communist histories, which allowed me to better understand Albania, even 10 years after my experience in Ukraine. The two were different enough in culture, nature, and language that they were both special experiences.
TEFL teacher volunteers generally work in public elementary and secondary schools. Some have the opportunity to teach English at universities. Volunteers also teach at private schools, language schools and do individual tutoring. We also often develop and take part in English language clubs and camps. My first teaching assignment was in a small town in Ukraine, four years after the end of communism. I was the first American that most of them had ever met. I taught in School #5, to kids aged 12-17. It was a struggle to find chalk. During the Ukrainian winter, we kept our coats and hats on in the classroom. The school bathrooms were broken and disgusting. I was working with Soviet-era textbooks which described New York City as “The City of the Golden Devil.”
But I have never felt so welcomed and appreciated as a teacher in my life. In Albania, as a “more experienced” volunteer I worked at the university level more often. I lived in a cosmopolitan (yet still very Albanian) city on the Adriatic coast, and presented lectures on “American Civilization” and teaching methodology. To fill my week, I also tutored advanced students for their university English language entrance exam, and worked at a private school with secondary-level students. I also had the opportunity to present teacher training seminars throughout the country for Albanian teachers, and to design and present TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) trainings for incoming Peace Corps volunteers. Age and experience can have their benefits in the Peace Corps.