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PCPY Training: Like Going to College to Major in Paraguay.
June 19, 2011, 12:45 pm
Filed under: Paraguay

PCPY (Peace Corps Paraguay) Training is really starting to become like a university of sorts. An ‘experiential learning’ university. And since I have actually GONE to an experiential university (*cough* Global College *cough*), I have to say that after being here for nearly a month, I feel like I am back in school- except this time, I am majoring in ‘Paraguay.’

For example, we have three assignments due this week. One of our assignments that I finished yesterday was a case study on sustainable development practices in Paraguay. Our case study was an example of a project started in northern Paraguay, and we had to write a response based on whether we found the project to be sustainable, and what factors made it sustainable. This assignment is actually very important, because as Peace Corps Volunteers all of our projects and work we do should be ‘long-lasting’- i.e. will continue to function within our communities after we leave (this is true development- something that lasts). Therefore, our training places a huge emphasis on sustainable development, and it has been very helpful picking out what makes a project sustainable (utilizing local resources, community-led and driven, acting as a facilitator) and what doesn’t (relying on only one person, not involving the local beneficiaries in all aspects of the project, etc.).

Another assignment that I am currently working on with another trainee is studying the mannerisms and textbooks of a third grade class in Paraguay. We were all assigned one grade each to present to everyone this week, so that our group will become familiar with the teaching concepts and material for every grade in Paraguayan schools. As Peace Corps Volunteers in the Community Economic Development sector, we act as facilitators of civic education- therefore, it’s important for all of us to have a grasp on what the school system is like in Paraguay.

But there’s more! We are also doing a ’24-hour-clock’ assignment to be handed in on Wednesday. Yes, we are each individually drawing  a huge clock with our artistic abilities, and interviewing men and women in our community on what they do every hour of every day, to ‘fill in’ to our clock hours. This will help us understand more about the life and customs of Paraguayans, which will be able to help us integrate better into our communities.

Finally, our ‘big’ project (due next month) is finding a small business owner in our local community, and help them improve their business (whether improving the management, finances, or IT). We have to meet with the business owner for a minimum of four times over the next month to help them with their project. I have already been talking to my fellow PC trainee’s mother, who owns a small ‘dispenseria’ (grocery store), and have offered my services to her. We haven’t met yet to discuss what she needs help on, but I’m excited about helping her improve her business, even if it’s just re-designing the layout of the store or creating a flashy sign to hang outside. Vamos a ver (We’ll see).

Then there’s just the general every-day things that I have been learning about by living with a homestay family and within a community. I’ve been astounded about how little I knew about Paraguay before coming here (and mind you, I already lived in Paraguay before the Peace Corps, for two months!) There are so many little things that I never realized- like the fact that no one has doorbells in their houses, so all you do to get someone’s attention is clap loudly outside until they come out- or that the drink of choice here is ‘Vin-Cola’- a combination of wine and Coca-Cola mixed together (it’s an interesting combination!)- or that Paraguayans seem to be extremely afraid of frogs for some reason (actually, after seeing a GIGANTIC toad the size of a small dog last night, I’m starting to understand why they could be intimidating).

Training is super intense- it is all day, every day (except Sunday), and it can get overwhelming at times. But every day here is an adventure and a learning experience, and I am loving and appreciating all of it. Take it all in, open your arms wide and love where you’re at and who you are with.

My fellow ‘classmates’ (Peace Corps Trainees) on a ‘field trip’ to Asunción. Love you guys!

3 Comments so far
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Ahhh Peace Corps training… As one ex Marine in my country put it. “That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. If you can survive that, you can do basically anything because one thought will be in your head: ‘This isn’t as hard as Peace Corps Training.'”
On a side note, what about your language training?

Comment by Sam

Oh boy…. Language training is a whole ‘nother box of worms! Four hours every day in the morning, in TWO languages…

Thanks for the quote bud. I told my fellow PCT and she cracked up.

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