It seems sometimes, as if there are only two climates here in Paraguay – hot and cold. We are currently in the season of fall or autumn yet it feels more like winter. The last few days have seen us get an unusually large dumping of rain, and like many Paraguayans, I didn’t leave my house much during the worst of the weather. In fact, I missed my group’s one-year anniversary party in the southern town of Villa Florida. It’s hard to believe that one year ago (we left as a group on the 29th and arrived on the30th) this past week, we didn’t know each other and knew virtually nothing about Paraguay.
All that time spent at home (most of my classes were canceled due to the rain) gave me a lot of time to reflect on the last year. So much has happened and while some days were agonizingly slow (some weeks too) it is really incredible just how fast the time has gone by. Now, for those of you “in the know” you may realize that as volunteers we really have two anniversaries. One year in country and one year in site – and for the purposes of completing our service, the in-site anniversary is the one that counts. We will celebrate that anniversary on the 9th of August.
So, what have I accomplished during this, my first year of service? Simple, I’m here and I’m healthy and happy! As a taxpayer that is helping to support me here, that may not satisfy you, so here’s a few more things that I’ve accomplished, I have…
Taught young Paraguayans:
• To evaluate their choices and to focus on their futures
• The importance of caring for the environment
• How and why to recycle
• The importance of trees and why deforestation is a serious problem
• How to plant and care for trees
• Qualities of a good leader
• Leadership skills
Perhaps most importantly, I’ve tried to show them the best of what the United States has to offer, people willing to share part of themselves with others. Most people don’t think about the name, Peace Corps. Many people think it is naïve to think that through cultural understanding we can achieve some kind of global peace. I don’t think it is naïve at all, actually I believe it is the only way we can one day achieve peace. I don’t mean to pontificate or get on a soapbox here friends, but how can we ever talk about peace if there is not first understanding?
Well, as a naturalized citizen of the USA, I am proud of the work that is being done here –and not just my work, but also that of all my fellow volunteers. I’m not sure how much Peace Corps cost each taxpayer – I can’t imagine it’s all that much. But I guarantee you it’s just about the best money your government has spent in the name of Peace!
Peace out friends…..