Tuesday, September 30, 2008



For those of you who are up to date on you hip-hop lingo will understand what "bling-bling" means/is. For those of you who are not, "Bling-bling" refers to what bright shiny jewelry does when light is reflected from it. Another explanation may be that "bling-bling" might be the imagined sound effect if one were to stumble upon a heap of fine jewels, diamonds and rubies. Make sense? So why am I writing about "bling-bling"?

Since I came to my site here in the state of Misiones, I have been working to try and find some interesting projects to work on. The municipal building is a pretty well organized entity, at least compared to others. Because there is a lot going on and my site has more organization and infrastructure than most the challenge is finding something to work on. So far I have handed in 2 project ideas. Unfortunately, it seems that the people with whom I work are not really interested in any of my work.  Nevertheless, I am always invited to every public event, every event that includes the press, and from time to time I'm invited to the radio station. I spoke with another volunteer about his phenomenon and she explained to me what I have termed "the bling-bling syndrome". In short, we think that many of the city leaders are interested in having an American Peace Corps volunteer around them like an expensive accessory or jewelry. Given that the U.S. is the bastion of democracy, when the public/community sees an American Peace Corps Volunteer involved in anything they assume that the matter is being done correctly, honestly, democratically and fairly. She explained that for this reason many of the city officials invite me to everything. In other words, I'm there expensive accessory, that which they try and show off in order to promote their activity their political agenda. Obviously this is not Peace Corps purpose and we as volunteers have the freedom to attend or not, and determine  how involved we want to be in a certain activity if we perceive that we are pushing a political agenda. 

On a good note, back in April Paraguay held their local elections and because of the work of Peace Corps volunteers the event was executed successfully. Never in Paraguayan history has there been a smooth exchange of governmental power from one person to the next. Local government is usually plagued by the same tendencies. In most cases, the community complains of corruption, mistrust, nepotism and manipulation. However, back in April two peace corps volunteers organized the voting poll at the local church and facilitated the voting process throughout the day. They simply handed out the ballot made sure each person was not bothered during the voting process and walked each person to the ballot box as they placed their vote inside. When the results were announced, no one in the community complained. The assumption was that because "the Americans" organized the voting process, it was done correctly and honestly. As it was explained to me, since then the community leaders like to Peace Corps Volunteers to show up at all the events as much as possible.

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