Peace Corps Prep Student Guide
The Peace Corps Prep program at UH Mānoa will prepare you for international development fieldwork and potential Peace Corps service. To accomplish this, you will build four core competencies through interrelated coursework, hands-on experience, and professional development support. These four competencies are the following:
- Training and experience in a work sector
- Foreign language skills
- Intercultural competence
- Professional and leadership development
This document explains each of these requirements in detail. Use this guide to map out your Peace Corps Prep course of study. In particular, refer to this guide when completing your PC Prep application, where you will need to document how you plan to fulfill each requirement. This guide aligns point-by-point with each section of the application.
1. Training and experience in a specific work sector
- 3 courses + 50 hours related experience
Leveraging concrete knowledge and skills is central to on-the-ground international development work. Through this PC Prep program, you will begin to build a professional specialty, which should serve your career well whether or not you become a Peace Corps Volunteer. For PC Prep, you need to complete at least 3 courses that align with a specific work sector (they can but do not need to come from your academic major or minor). You also must accumulate a minimum of 50 hours of volunteer or work experience in that same sector, preferably in a teaching or outreach capacity.
- Peace Corps Tip: If you intend to apply to the Peace Corps, the best way to ensure that you will be a strong candidate is to explore Peace Corps’ openings and identify the type of assignments in which you’d like to serve; then review the required and desired qualifications and build them accordingly. In the process, you should fulfill PC Prep experiential requirements.
There are six sectors in which Peace Corps Volunteers serve—detailed below. Choose one sector to focus on and then complete at least 3 courses + 50 hours of related experience in that sector.
- Note: Actual Peace Corps assignments are based on local needs, and thus may or may not align seamlessly with your qualifications. Flexibility is central to the Peace Corps experience!
2. Foreign Language Skills
Working across cultures often entails verbal and nonverbal languages distinct from your own. Building foreign language skills is thus a second key component of the PC Prep curriculum.
Where would you like to serve? PC Prep minimum course requirements align with those needed by applicants to the Peace Corps itself, which vary by linguistic region.
- Latin America: Individuals wanting to serve in Spanish-speaking countries must apply with strong intermediate proficiency. This typically means completing two 200-level courses.
- West Africa: Individuals wanting to serve in French-speaking African countries should be proficient in French (or, in some cases, any Romance Language), usually through one 200-level course.
- Everywhere else: The Peace Corps has no explicit language requirements for individuals applying to serve in most other countries. However, you will still likely learn and utilize another language during service, so it is only helpful to have taken at least one foreign language class.
Note: If you are a strong native speaker and hope to serve in a country that speaks your same language, you can skip this requirement!
The following departments at UH-Mānoa offer courses in a wide range of languages currently used by Peace Corps Volunteers:
- Department of Languages and Literatures of Europe and the Americas (offering courses in French, German, Greek, Latin, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish);
- Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures (offering courses in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean);
- Department of Indo-Pacific Languages (offering courses in Arabic, Chamorro, Filipino, Hindi, Ilokano, Indonesian, Khmer, Maori, Persian, Samoan, Sanskrit, Tahitian, Thai, Tongan, Urdu, and Vietnamese).
3. Intercultural Competence
- 3 approved courses or 1-2 courses + substantive intercultural experience
Engaging thoughtfully and fluidly across cultures begins with one’s own self-awareness. With this learning objective, you will deepen your cultural agility through a mix of three introspective courses in which you learn about others while reflecting upon your own self in relation to others. The goal is for you to build your capacity to shift perspective and behavior around relevant cultural differences.
4. Professional and Leadership Development
Peace Corps service and similar international development work opportunities are highly professional and selective. PC Prep requires three specific activities that will strengthen your candidacy for the Peace Corps (or any other professional endeavor):
- Have your resume critiqued by an advisor, mentor or counselor in the UH Mānoa Career Center. Stop in at the Queen Lili’uokalani Center for Student Services (QLCSS), Room 212, call (808) 956-7007 or visit the website for a list of services and appointment times.
- Attend a workshop or class on interview skills offered through the UH Mānoa Career Center.
- Develop at least one significant leadership experience and be prepared to discuss it thoughtfully. For example, you may wish to organize a campus event, lead a work or volunteer project, or serve on the executive board of a student organization. Check here for the current list of UH Mānoa-Approved Registered Independent Organizations. Students may also volunteer to assist in the planning an execution of the Matsunaga Institute’s annual Peace Day event and/or the annual Peer Mediation Training conference for high-school students.