Sunday, May 3, 2009


Friends, what a difference a month makes…

Let me begin by letting you all know, what I hope has been obvious from previous posts. I am happy and fulfilled and enjoying my time in Paraguay. What is also true is that I didn’t always have enough activities to fill my days. Then along comes an idea, hopefully known to you all, called…”Como Planear Mi Vida.”

Now, if I had been more proactive, I would have marched over to the colegio and introduced myself to the students during my first month here in site. However, I was so fixated on doing my “job” which as a municipal services volunteer is supposed to be with the muni. Secondly, let me just be honest here… I was scared. I find high school students in general a bit intimidating, and Paraguayan students are even more so. The times I had come to the school in the past, to propose project ideas (my tutoring idea, for one), I heard piropos (catcalls or whistles) coming from most of the young men. This did not help ease my fear of working with them or wanting to meet them more personally.

Then I got the idea to teach the Peace Corps program, “Como Planear Mi Vida.” Well, my intention was to teach only the 7th, 8th and 9th graders, but as you all now know, I’m actually teaching the entire student body at the colegio. Well friends, this has opened my world in Loma Grande.

Now in my third week of teaching, I can honestly say, this is the best thing I could have ever done with my service. ALL of the students now know me and greet me either by name or by calling me profe (short for profesora or teacher in Spanish). The ripple effect is that the teachers all know me now as well. They stop me in the halls to invite me to school events (before they all passed without my knowing about them), include me in meetings, and call on me for help with English or with computer problems. I had tried to get them to understand that I was here to do just that – help them with whatever their needs were and to pass time with them and understand their culture. This is why it always made me sad to know some event had happened without my knowing or being able to attend. Somehow, before, that message never got through. Now, everything has changed.

Recently I was at the escuela (the elementary/middle school) and was helping the administration with a complicated document. Along the way, it turned into a lesson on Microsoft Word. I spent most of my afternoon there before I had to rush off for a class at the colegio (middle/high school). As I left, it hit me. I need them as much as they need me … now. I really felt like I belonged there. Suddenly I had a purpose and my presence here in Loma Grande actually seemed to matter to members of this community. Perhaps that’s not an entirely fair statement. I’m sure my presence here has mattered to some – even before I began teaching. I suppose that now the difference is that I feel it. I’m no longer wondering if that is true, I know it is true because I felt it and continue to feel it.

As I wander down the streets of my town now, I am usually smiling. The sense of purpose and belonging that I have now goes way beyond anything I felt before. My town has embraced me and I them. We are truly working together to create something special.

Thanks for being part of my journey…I hope you are as excited as I am to see where it takes us next…