Tuesday, December 8, 2009

So you really want to know?

Most of my updates are related to social events or random life happenings, but I figured I should dedicate at least ONE blog entry to the actual reason I came down to Paraguay in the first place, to work as a Peace Corps Volunteer:

To be honest, most of what I'm doing right now is setting up/preparing for projects in the future because everything takes preparation and it's hard to just jump into a project (and probably not recommended if you want your project to be successful) without discussing it first with a counterpart in the community.

Primary Project:

This is by far what I spend my most time working on and the project I am most passionate about. I always say that there is no better investment than in education (and health) and what better way to educate a community than by bringing them resources in paper and digital form. In the end, the hope is to have a library that can serve as a community center, a place to check out books, learn computer skills, connect to the internet, hold community meetings, display community art and event information, as well as a quite place to read or study. But first, we need to remodel the building in the plaza to make it safer so that all the books and computers actually stay in the library.
> CURRENT PROGRESS: 850 dollars received from the Bill Kelly Funds, partnership formed with the US Embassy for future resources as well as a handful of books that have been donated by them, local architect who is willing to do the building plans for free, library committee formed and in the process of forming a neighborhood commission to be recognized by the local and state governments (unfortunately every week we are 3-4 people short of being able to form at commission), application for 5,000 dollars through USAID is completed and awaiting construction plans from architect, Multiple non-profits who have assured me book donations after the formation of the neighborhood commission and formal solicitation.

It kills me that there are so many organizations willing to donate materials and the part that has been the hardest is getting enough community members to show up at the meetings! We are going to try one final time to get the commission formed this Thursday and if it doesn't happen then we have no choice other than to wait until after the holidays to try again. ugh...

This is the front of the building that we want to remodel and put glass where the fencing is so that we can have a super huge space for the library/community center... still deciding what to call it.

This is the location of the building, in the middle of the second plaza and right in front of the elementary and high schools!!

Secondary Projects:

Right now my english teaching is more like English practicing on an individual basis. A couple times a week a few high school and college students come to my house and we drink terere and I practice speaking english with them and answer the questions that they have from their homework. I like this system because it is fun and very informal but pretty soon I will be starting something a little more concrete.

> For the summer break (in paraguay, this is January and February) I will be teaching a English class for ages 12-19 (but honestly who ever wants to come is welcome, but it will be at a slower pace than classes would be for adults). This project I am doing at the woman's center in Altos "Kuna Aty" by request of the President of the woman's group. I have had so many pleas that I figured it was time to give in to the English Gods and give the people what they want, even if it's not technically my project area.

> Last year, before I hurt myself I was just about to start going once a week to the school (Luis Alberto de Parana) to teach them songs and play games to learn English. English is the cool thing to learn these days so everyone wants a piece of it! So this year we are going to try again, given that I don't fall in another water canal, and that will start with the school year in the end of February.

This camp is what I had talked about in my last blog update that takes place at the end of January and I super excited to go expose these two amazing girls from Altos to a new perspective on their role and responsibility as a citizen of Paraguay!

("I see Paraguay" in Guarani)
This is a super awesome project that was invented by CoCoMu, the organization within Peace Corps that promotes artistic and cultural events. The project begins with a photography workshop with Paraguayan youth which culminates by lending them cameras for 30 days to allow Paraguayans the opportunity to express their creativity and practice the photography techniques they were taught in the workshop. The principal of the school and I decided we would do the project with her sixth grade class of 15 students and we have yet to find out exactly when the cameras will be available to us. For more information on this project, check out their blog!

The Ahecha Logo, so cute.

SO that's what is on my plate for the next couple months, as well as a couple community clean-ups, random presentations and a library workshop that I am planning to attend with a community member. But I'm still trying to set-up some more stuff to occupy my time because this go around I really want to make the most of my time here in Paraguay!

P.S. Happy Little Virgin of Ca'acupe Day!! I think I'm going to use this national holiday to clean house because tomorrow my bosses from Asuncion are coming for a site visit, because I wasn't here when they did the "one year in site visit." woot!!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Ñande Ha'e Tenonderã: Cambiando el Futuro con la Fuerza Juvenil

"We are the future: changing the future with the power of youth!"

Hello Friends and Family,

As you know, I am a municipal services volunteer and all the volunteers from this sector have decided to host a civic education summer camp for Paraguayan youth from all over Paraguay. The camp will last 3 days and will be held at this great location close to the town of Tobati. This is a great opportunity for Paraguayan youth to travel, meet other youth from other parts of the country, and learn about their civic responsibility and the resources that are available to them through their local government. I have chosen two girls from my town, one, age 19, and another, age 20, to attend the camp with me. They are both super sweet young women who, in one way or another, have shown me there desire to help their community and better their own lives in the process. They both come from humble backgrounds and haven't traveled more than two hours outside of our town. I'm super excited to give them this opportunity to have this experience because I think it will really open their eyes to the opportunities they have in Paraguay if they dig a little.

Our goal is to have everything be free for the Paraguayan youth that participate in the camp and this is where you all come in! I try not to ask for help too much because, as a volunteer, I have probably over-stepped the "mooching" line a time or two, but this one is easy and cheap! I would like to raise a minimum of 36 dollars to cover the transportation costs and a camp t-shirt for both of the girls from my town! If you are able to donate a couple bucks please e-mail me at juliebe8@gmail.com and I will let you know where to send the money/check. We are going to organize it so one of the volunteers who is coming back from a christmas visit can bring the money back with them!

I hope life in the states is treating you all well! I'm always the most jealous of you people in December because there is no place like home for the holidays!! :)


p.s. here is the camp shirt for those who are curious!