Sunday, June 29, 2008

Other Volunteers

Here are some of the other volunteers. Here we are at a San Juanazo. This was at the beginnig so we were al about to fall asleep. I´ll have more pictures later.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Terrifying Image....

Recenlty we went to a San Juanazo. A san Juanazo is an catholic celebration of the death (birth, I don´t know and neither to most people) of Saint John. There is a big festival that has lots of different aspects included that (from my perspective) have nothing to do with catholicism. Anyway, some of the volunteers and I decided to go to the festival in order to learn more about the culture of the place where we are. I and another girl are from African--American decent. The photos seen below did not help my security feeling down here at all. Take a look.

Recientemente fuimos a un San Juanzao. Un San Juanazo es una celebracion catolica del muerto (o nacimiento, parece que nadie sabe) del San Juan. Aqui hacen una fiesta grande, pero el problema (para mi) es que parace que los caracteristicas de la fiesta no tiene nada que ver con catolocismo. Bueno, para aprender mas de la cultura de paraguay, unos voluntarios e yo decidimos irnos a la festival. Otra voluntaria e yo somos de asendencia Afro--Americana. Si te acuerdas de la historia de morenos en EEUU las fotos que aparecen abajo, debe de explicar nuestor temor, y la incomodad tremenda que sentiamos estando en est lugar.

The Muncipality...

The Municpality...

June 28, 2008.
Today we went to town of Nueva Italia. We went to visit the Municipality there and meet the town mayor. The best way to explain the set up of a Municipality here in Paraguay can be explained as: The Mayor holds basically all the power. The only check on the mayor’s power is the Junta that has to approve all of his work. However, the Junta cannot create any type of project. Their only role is to approve the Mayor’s proposals or reject his proposals. The Junta is usually split between the two national political parties. They junta also usually reflects the political party of the town in which it resides. If the town is split between the two parties, the junta will be split to reflect the representation of the town.

Well today, we went to the Municipality in Nueva Italia. We had the opportunity to listen observe the Junta in session and listen to them discuss the issues of their town. After that, we were allowed to review all of the requests (pedidos) for funds of projects. The way it works, if you want to money for a project you have to gather support by creating a neighborhood commission (comsion vecinal) and formally present all of the details of your project and then you can request the money. There are hundreds of neighborhood commissions and there is never enough money to go around. So today 6 of us reviewed all of the pedidos and we decided which ones would be approved. It was interesting to see what the people were requesting. The sad thing was that rarely anyone request money for capital expenses. All of the money was for immediate benefit or consumption. For example, no one requested money for a tractor in order to be able to farm a piece of land for the next 10 years. Instead, people were request money to pay for a man to come and spray their crops. These kind of projects we didn’t approve. Why? Because next year, they are gonna be looking for this money again. They type of projects we wanted were ones, that might have brought a guy in to teach that area different ways to protect their crops from pests, or teach them how to spray their own crops. Either of these aforementioned ideas would help the group to be better prepared and more independent from help from the outside. It was an interesting day. We learned a lot and I think, our work will be very similar to this when we go out to our sites. Another job we might do at our sites, would be to go out to these specific communities who are requesting money and help teach them on how to prepare and better pedido (request) in order to help them get the funding approved, by helping them to understand that sustainability and independence will help the municipality be more likely to approve their request. The way things are set up now, the people continue to deal with the same problems year after year (like pests eating up all their crops) and the only way they solve it is waiting for the municipality to come and give them some money to spray their crops. On too many occasions there crop harvest is little or nothing because they wait for someone to come and do it for them.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Korean Barbecue...

Korean Barbecue!!
Korean barbecue is great! When I went to visit my host volunteer in Aregua, we came into Asuncion to have Korean barbecue. It’s even better when shared among friends. So what could make it better? When you get to cook it yourself at your table. Many people have probably visited a restaurant of this type in the states. It’s not a new thing, but for me it is. I get the feeling that the restaurant is really good, because many Koreans frequent the restaurant. My feeling was confirmed when I tasted the food. CALICIOUS!!!! (Delicious x 100= Calicious)

The Cell phone saga....

The Cell phone. Before I get started I need to explain a bit about how some Peace Corps Volunteers experience Paraguay. Here in Paraguay, many volunteers have experienced outright request for the property by Paraguayan friends and family. From what I’ve heard this is not uncommon. Many Paraguayan adults and children will look at your tennis shoes, being named bran (Nike), and say something like “ Wow, I like those…How much did they cost? Can I have them?” or “Oh my gosh, that’s a nice camera, it takes pictures and films? The pictures look nice, Can I have that camera?” The Peace Corps has told us that this is common and there will be lots of people that ask us for our stuff. They have suggested that we not give it away or they will think that we are a walking bank. On the other hand the Peace Corps also says, that whether or not you give them your stuff, they still think you are a walking bank. In many occasions they believe that an american’s presence can get money to come down easily. So what does all this have to do with a cell phone? Well, my host family knows all of the aforementioned. Furthermore, many of the families make sure that their kids and family member do not ask the Peace Corps volunteers for their stuff. They do this for many reasons, but the main reason is because to flat out ask also implies that the person is needy. In order to save face many Paraguayans with just compliment on what you have hoping that you will give it to them. As I mentioned, most host families know this and won’t behave that way with volunteers. Being that my host mother knows this, here is the story of the Cell Phone.

Upon arriving in Paraguay I realized that my phone did not work here. I also knew that the Peace Corps is going to provide us with phones once we go out to our sites in August. On top of that, I remembered why I got cell phone. I originally got it because Karla went to OU when I went to OSU. When Karla came back to OSU they had changed the phone service whereby was required to choose and pay for a long distance phone plan, no longer could one just have local service in Stillwater. For this reason, I kept my cell phone. If the peace corps is going to give us phones, then I don’t need mine. If I want a cell phone when I come back to the US I will be able to get a free phone when signing the phone contract This was my thinking. Continuing with more background info, here in Paraguay one may get robbed for their cell phone. This is very common because cell phone use, text messages and things of that nature are relatively new and everyone wants to try and get one. For this reason cell phone are really popular and frequently stolen. One night when talking to my family they were explaining to me all the things that we need to be leery of when in the capital city of Asuncion. We have a maid that works here at the house with my host family. She practically lives here and goes home on Saturday afternoons and comes back again on Monday. While telling me this, my host dad mentioned to me that Gladys (the maid) had been robbed a few months back and had her cell phone stolen.
This is where the story begins. One day I gave me cell phone to Gladys. I told her that I didn’t think it would work, but if she could get the phone “unblocked” and hooked up here she could have it. Three days later she goes to Asuncion and comes back chatting away to her friends and boyfriend on the phone. My host mom darn near threw a fit. While I was at school, the host mom bombarded her with questions about where and how she got the phone. My host mom didn’t believe Gladys when she told her that I had given her the phone. When I got home my host mom waited until Gladys was gone to the store and she asked me a number of times if I had given her the phone. I told her “yes” and then my host mom assumed that Gladys had asked me for it. Then my host mom didn’t believe that Gladys had not asked me for the phone. So, I had to pull both my host mom and the maid together and clarify before both of them. “Señora, Gladys did not ask me for the phone. I gave it to her. Gladys, I didn’t tell the Señora that you asked me for the phone.” After that things were fine. But needless to say it caused a big mess, all because they are not accustomed to someone giving away something that they perceive as expensive. I can remember Brett Mardis giving me his old cell phone. But I guess here it’s just unheard of. On top of that, I think my host mom would have been embarrassed for her family, had the maid asked me for the phone. Anyway that is the Cell Phone Saga.


Does 37-50 degrees seem cold to you? Well here it is freezing, freezing to the bone. Why? Well here since all of the homes are made of stone or cement, and none of the houses have insulation you are basically sitting in 37-50 degrees all the time. I have to wear a coat all the time, even while inside the house. What´s even worse is that July is the worst. It will be getting colder. The good thing is that it does not get as cold as it does at home. Anyway, my big hat the Karla gave me for Christmas has really come in handy. See below.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Interesting statue...

In one of the previous postings I told you about my trip to Aregua. I went to visit another volunteer just to get an idea of how a volunteer lives. As I mentioned, the city is really nice and very colonial. Anway, if the front yard of my host volunteer is an interesting statue. He says that it was there when he moved in, but nevertheless, it´s very interesting. I decided to take a picture with it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

El Colectivo - El Bache (Paraguay)

To get a good look at some of he buses here in Paraguay, take a look at the video here. I don´t know what they look like in other places, but I believe the buses (called colectivos here) are probably some of the most unique. Check them out)

Para ver los autobuses que cubren el pais de Paraguay vea el video. No se como comparan con los del otro paises del latino america pero supongo que los de aqui son muy distintos. Vea el video

Pictures of Areguá...Fotos de Areguá

Picture of an old train that ran through Aregua, years ago. Now it only runs a few times a month. Foto de un tren que iba desde Asuncion a Aregua hace años. Ahora viene unos veces al mes.

View of the lake at the bottom of the hill in Aregua (contaminated though). Vista del lago al fondo de la loma principal de Aregua. (pero una bella vista no más, el lago esta contaminado)

A cool church at the top of the hill. This church faces the lake with a nice few for the patio seen in this picture. Esta iglesia linda esta encima de la loma que mira hacia el lago abajo. Un vista de maravilla.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Teaching English...Enseñando Inglés

Okay, I can´t relate to what a teacer goes through, neither teaching older kids in a university setting nor children in low income schools in the inner city. BUT, I can tell you a cool story.
This past weekend and until tuesday I am on a sight visit, visiting another volunteer out in place call Aregua. Aregua is a really pretty area that many of the volunteers fight to get placed at. I will try and post pictures and video soon.
So, continuing with teaching, I arrived Saturday morning and walked to the municipality where the other volunteer works on Sats. I get to the Muni. and can´t find the other volunteer. I finally ask someone where the other american is. They take me to the courtyard and at one end of the courtyard I see my other volunteer on the escenario (´´stage´´ I think) with a lot of desks and students sitting in them trying to learn english. I walk up with my big bags and join the group. I look around at about 20 bright eyed little young boys and girls staring up at a Peace Corps volunteer, with good spanish, but a not so good accent, teaching the children english. The kids were attentive and the kids were learning a lot and asking really astute questions. I really wish I would have taken a picture because the picture looked just like what you would see on the Peace Corps mailings, advertisements and propaganda. The Kids sat in a big circle and tried their best to say hi to me in English. I sat there for about 2 hours but during that time period the kids were asking me questions about how to form sentences and all the easy stuff that is usually confusing for first time english learners. Karla, I especially wish that you could have been there to not only answer their questons, but to feel how it feels to be able to answer a simple questions and see the satisfaction that comes over the kids face from feeling like they are learning something REALLY cool and new. Perhaps you have felt that when working witht the interational students on campus. Also, I think you would have enjoyed it because you could have spoken to them in Spanish that they could have better understood.
I think I better understand the challenges a teacher faces. They are some of the greatest, but I also think that the reward a teacher gets from seeing their students grow and learn is one of the greatest also. In other words, big rewards come from great challenges.

Bueno, no puedo indentificarme con los dificultades que un profesor se tiene que enfrentar en la clase, ni en una situacion universitaria ni una escuela con escasos recursos en la ciudad. Sin embargo les puedo contar un cuento muy lindo.
El fin pasado fue a vistar a otro voluntario en su sitio en un lugar que se llama Areguá. Fui de viaje por autobus de una hora norte de Asuncion. Es un lugar precioso con vistas de maravilla, una iglesia bella que esta ubicada un una loma con bellas vistas sobre un lago lindo.
Bueno, llegue a la municipalidad en busca del otro voluntario. Pregunte al seguridad por el otro americano. Me llevó al jardin principal y al fondo de un lado estvó el otro voluntaro en el esencario con pupitres y unos 20 alumnos de 11 a 14 años enseñando el ingles. Me acerque al esenario y deje mi equipaje a un lado y me senté. En un circulo estaban todo los estudiantes con ojos brillantes fijados en el voluntario del cuerpo de paz, e esuchando al voluntario con español bueno, pero un accento horrible. Los niños le hacia preguntas buenas y bien astutas. Quisieras que hubiera sacado fotos por que la vista y ambiente fue igualito que los que vemos en los folletos de Cuerpo de paz y los video que un apirante ve la propaganda. Estuve yo, unos 2 horas, pero en esas 2 hora me hacian preguntas en como se forma oraciones y conjuga verbos y sustantivos. En tan poco tiempo nos hicimos amiguitos. El dia siguiente casa todo el pueblo de Aregua supo que el Americano (Josh mi compañero) tenia otro amigo visitandole de EEUU. Karla quisiera que estuvieras no solo para contestar los preguntas con mas eficaz que nosotros pero tambien saber como se siente poder contestar las preguntas de los niños y ver la satisfacion en sus ojos al pensar que estan aprendiendo algo importante y tambien ver en los ojos de ellos que se sienten el orgullo de haber aprendido un poco de ingles. Tal vez has sentido es eseñando los alumnos en la unversidad con los estudiantes del extranjero. Tambien te hubiera dado mucho gusto poderles explicado en castellano perfecto.
Creo que ahora entiendo los retos que los profesores tienen que batallar. Son dificilisimo. Pero a la vez la recompensa al ver a un alumno que entienda o que por fin capturo la esencia de tal leccion es un algo que siente muy lindo tambien.

Friday, June 6, 2008


For those of you who have ever eaten street food in Mexico City know that the hamburgers therer are wonderful. Last night I had one that compared. These hamburgers come with, meat, cheese, ham, mayo, ketchup, lettuce, tomatoe, mayo, salt and all made fresh. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, an over easy egg is also added to it.. Peep the pictures.

Para ustedes que han comido comida de la calle en Mexico, saben de las hamburguesas ricas que hay. Ayer en la noched comi uno que comparò con los de mexico. Esta tenia la carne, queso, jamon, ketchup, mostaza, lechuga, jitomate, mayo, sal, y tambien huevo duro. Riquisima fue! Vea las fotos.