Opportunities for Community Development Specialists in SIL
Also known as Intercultural Community Work, ICW is SIL's approach to community development with vernacular literacy as its foundation.
What does a CD specialist do?
- Learn the language and culture.
- Build relationships through involvement and interdependence, building trust and earning the right to be heard.
- Through effective questions, help the people verbalize their needs and discover appropriate solutions.
- When people ask for advice, suggest possible solutions, opening the window to new possibilities.
- As a facilitator, help the community to weigh the costs and benefits of different courses of action, helping them to make decisions regarding their own development.
- Be a partner in planning, implementing, and evaluating specific projects.
- Train local people to carry out the process themselves.
"How do you know your role as CD Specialist was successful? Youll know when the people you worked with are more able to develop their own communities."
The kind of CD specialists we need are process specialists—people who understand the process of development and can work with people to facilitate that process. They need to love people and be willing to listen, to learn, to help others in a respectful way. Beyond these attitudes and people-skills, it would be helpful to have some knowledge of technical things like growing a garden, building a house, fixing an outboard motor, setting up a water system or community health services. However, more important than technical know-how is the ability to research and network to help a community find the particular technical expertise it needs.
CD specialists should especially be able to:
- relate well to people.
- adapt to different cultures and living conditions.
- learn from others and from their own experience.
- manage themselves and bring out the best in others.
- develop plans and implement them.
- help communities define their resources and needs. Patience is a useful virtue.
- display healthy attitudes toward self and others who are different .
- be flexible and deal with ambiguous situations.
- serve others with maturity.
Since few of us meet the ideal described above, successful CD specialists need to be able to work in teams and rely on the strengths of others.
SIL trains its volunteers. CD specialists need the equivalent of two semesters of training in language and culture acquisition, anthropology, program planning and management, and intercultural communication and training. These are available at our SIL schools. Certain assignments require additional technical training and/or internship.
In SIL there are three broad roles for people who specialize in CD:
- Specialists work with one or more language teams and usually need a bachelors degree.
- Consultants train and consult with CD and literacy workers and usually have a graduate degree.
- Managers coordinate development programs for an entity or manage a major CD project. Managerial abilities are needed, and three years of field experience is desirable.
How can you become involved?
Contact the ICW Coordinator at 972 708-7400 x2352 or by for more information.