The questions that I have been asked since I've been in Paraguay have been very interesting. They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Today's question knocked me out of my socks. "Is South Africa in South America?" After answering the question, "No", it was hard for me to hold back and not give an entire geography lesson. I thought I would leave that to their geography teacher. After telling my host mother about this incident she was taken back also, because "everyone should learn geography in 7th grade" she said. Then she continued to tell me about her cousin who lives in the United States, when I asked what state she said Canada. Again I was shocked. She is a very proud woman therefore I did not feel it was the place to be giving her a geography lesson. This prompted me to go to the school and talk to the Nun's in the afternoon. The Nun's are in charge of the private catholic school in town. I told them that I was very interested in doing a world map project. Peace Corps has all of the information on how to do the project, only money is needed, and this is something that the school does have. The problem is finding a place where we can put the map, where ALL of the kids can see it and study every day!
In my house I have a world map, a map of paraguay, and a map of the united states. I literally find myself staring at my wall. I can't get enough! Also whenever someone comes and visits me they look at my maps and ask me questions like "how many continents are there" or "which state are you from." In situations like those I am very happy to talk about what I about geography.
With the world cup coming up, only days away!!! I've been watching the commercials and hearing the same world cup songs for about 4 months now. Therefore I am looking forward for the games to begin! When the people here found out what countries Paraguay would be playing, a few young girls came over and asked me where slovakia and italy are on the map. They had looked in their encyclopedia but couldn't find Slovakia. Another great time for a geography lesson. I explained that before Slovakia it was Czechoslovakia and now it is two different countries.
One day in my class of Informadores Turistico our activity was to draw a map of Paraguay, with its rivers, departments, and capitals. The students in the class really had no idea where to start. They couldn't even start by drawing the shape of their country. The professor was very mad, and instead of assisting the students, started to yell and draw the outline. Then one of the students found a magazine in that had a drawing of Paraguay and everyone continued to copy the drawing.
I am not sure where I am trying to go with this, but it has been a constant theme in living in Paraguay. And my host mom was wrong when she said that everyone knows their geography because they do not learn it in 7th grade. In the schools the students arn't the most important. A lot of teachers are only there for the pay check, teachers are some of the highest paid and one of the most secure jobs in Paraguay. You really have to screw up to get fired, yeah it is ok to date students. Therefore a lot of the teachers don't care about the education of their students and if they are understanding what they are teaching. Also it is ok to cheat on tests here, everyone does it, college students pay for test answers to get accepted into the program they want.
Again not sure where I am going with this, but the kids are missing a lot of relevent information that I hope I can help with just being their friend.