Monday, November 24, 2008

In-service training in Guarambare etc.

November 24, 2008

As of today I am no longer living out of my suitcase. I bought a wardrobe today from a local furniture shop; made out of a nice smelling wood. It has a mirror on the outside, which I am using to put my photos up. It is nice not to have to dig so much through my suitcases anymore.

I just returned from the indigenous community looking for a straw hat for another volunteer friend of mine. They cost only about 10 mil Guaranies, which converts to about 2 USD. I bought myself a necklace made out of seeds for only 8 mil Gs. The woman who runs the artisan shop, Ermina, speaks Guarani, another indigenous language called Qom (Kom), and some Spanish. It was nice to have to practice my Guarani because she didn’t understand Spanish that well. The problem with practicing Guarani is that most people speak Spanish as well, so if I am expressing myself slowly, my conversation partner reverts to Spanish to facilitate communication.

It is a steamy 92 degrees today, which makes today the hottest November 24th that I have ever experienced.

From last Wednesday until this past Saturday I was in Guarambaré, where my training group spent our first ten weeks in Paraguay, for our first in-service training. I stayed with the same host family, and in spite of my host dad saying that my Guarani is zero, I feel like I have progressed. Not as much as I had hoped, but progress nonetheless. The training consisted mostly of Guarani classes, but we also had a visit from our country director, Michael Eschelmann (an Athens, Ohio native). He asked us what our first three months in site were like and gave us an update on the interview process for our new Assistant Peace Corps Director for our sector, Rural Economic Development (my sector, Municipal Services Development, is included in this larger category).

The second afternoon our volunteer coordinator, who is going back to the States after three years in Paraguay (two as a volunteer and one as volunteer coordinator for our sector), showed us how to fill out progress forms so that Peace Corps Paraguay can report back to Washington DC about our activities. We have to state what age groups we work with, what gender and about what topics. The third afternoon of training we had a round robin session regarding civic education, environmental education, working with NGOs and also AIDS education. I missed the NGO and AIDS sessions but I got really good info from the environmental education session. There was a whole template for giving a workshop with youth about trash management. I am hoping to find some young people in my community to help give it along with another urban youth volunteer in Asuncion. Current volunteers gave all of the sessions.

I am proud to say that I was in the most advanced Guarani class with four other people, one other from municipal services development and the other three from rural economic development (they work with cooperatives). It was nice to be in class with people who knew more Guarani than I did because they challenged and motivated me. I have a lot of new grammar in my notebook and a nice handout of phrases such as, “Nde tavy ne akame,” which means, “You’re crazy in the head.”

After the last day of our reconnect aka in-service training, Laara, Julie and I went to Asuncion to buy our bus tickets for Christmas in Montevideo, Uruguay at the bus terminal. The trip will be 20 hours, not 28 as I expected. The bus is double-decker and we will be sitting in the front. I am looking forward to being on the beach and seeing another country. They uruguayos talk more like Argentineans, so it will be harder to understand them after being here in Paraguay for so long.

This week the majority of Peace Corps volunteers are celebrating Thanksgiving in Encarnacion, on the border of Paraguay and Argentina. We will have a traditional feast and there will be a talent show. I leave Friday morning early. I am bummed to have to leave my site again, because it’s not helping me to integrate more, but I am looking forward to seeing another city.

Hope everyone is doing well! Glad to see the Bucks beat Michigan! Woot!

A house in my town
Me hydrating with the people in the Chaco

A really cute kid. Adorable

The flooded area from when I helped to hand out food with the local government employees, now two weeks ago.

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