Friday, August 19, 2011

27 Months…I’ll try to sum it up

27 months is the amount of time I’ve lived in Paraguay either as a Peace Corps trainee or as a volunteer. 27 months filled with: hard work, learning, integration, drinking terere, making new friends, speaking Spanish and mishimi guarani, adapting to every situation, planning projects, hanging at the train station, riding an emotional roller coaster, fighting off mosquitoes and much much more.

The larger projects/ projects that I enjoyed the most

In the beginning it was about integration, learning the language and analyzing the community to see what they really need/want and adapt my abalities to those situations and try to help. It took awhile, a long while to find these “needs” in which I could actually do something. But while waiting for the right project I made some amazing friends within the community. I was assigned to work in the local savings and loan cooperative where I knew immediately I wouldn’t be spending much of my time. I was eventually inveted to a commuity and cultural center meeting where I fit right in. immediately we started working together on the planning process, making a vision and mission statement, making goals and then made the annual plan of activities. This basically took up all of my time for a god while. On the side I was teaching English, working in school gardens and drinking terere.

As the group became more formalized and the goals and vision of the group and the train station became clearer and larger we decided to apply for a SPA grand and improve the basic fixings such as lighting, bathrooms, bought chairs a printer and a desk and a few more necessities for the library which is located in the train station which serves as the community center.

About 6 months before the end of my service, February, I was asked by the principle for Borja, 2km away, to be the computer teacher for the entire high school. So every Wednesday until I finished I went to Borja and taught kids who had never touched a computer how to use Microsoft office, save documents, make folders and use a typing program. It was very rewarding work.

At the same time that I started teaching computers I took two local girls to a leadership camp in wchi we were assigned homework in the end. The girls were to start a local youth group and do a community project. We formed a group of 11 girls and decided on the name MOCOS ( movimiento de companeros salvadorenos). MOCOS means boogers. The group decided to install trash cans around town. I’m not going into details because it was one of the most stressful projects, but a very good learning experience for everyone. I will say that working with the local mayor was a nightmare. But….in the end trash cans were installed. Then the girls had the opportunity to go to the follow up leadership camp as a reward for all their hard work. one went. So basically I would have done the project if it weren’t for them and the homework from the first camp then no one went to share their experiences….!

It may seem that I was always working but really there was a LOT of free time. I took a month vacation when my parents and brother came, to Argentina. Hung out and drank terere with my buddies in site. Chase and Kimmy were able to visit after being stuck in brazil with out a Paraguayan visa, yes all Americans need a visa to visit Paraguay. Liz also came for an awesome week. Although it rained almost the entire time, and we had a crazy ciudad del este experience, it meant a lot to me! I was also fortunate to make great friends with in Peace Corps. That allowed me to travel around Paraguay and see how other Peace Corps volunteers live and be a tourist at the same time. And of course I can’t forget about David. My rock. He defiantly helped me understand all of the awkward cultural moments and he was the shoulder in which I cried on when I missed home, had hard days work or just needed a cry. We always have so much fun together and I am excited to continue the journey. I was NEVER board when he was around. I am the luckiest girl in the world to have found my best friend and fiancĂ©e while in the Peace Corps.