The trend of language being a difficulty
Nearly two weeks ago or three, who is counting, I completed my first goal of talking to every family in the community, which sums up to about 145 houses or so. Many a times, these were short ten minute visits of me using my Guarani to say the bare minimum, other times there were the eager people who wanted to talk and would go so far to speak in Castellano with me that our first meeting would last past an hour. And in between there are the people who do not understand why I am here, nor care, as well as the people who are excited just to see a new face. By now though it has nearly been two months in my community of Maracana, and I think I may have an idea of what I will be working in. But I’ll save that tid bit for later on.
Let me overview some other things first. I have been struggling with learning Guarani and as much as I want to speak it, it’s difficult with just the book Peace Corps has given us. In the past, volunteers have had the opportunity to pay someone in site to help tutor them with the language, however my group is the pilot group to a new satellite-tutoring program—that Peace Corps Washington says has been a great success in other places. This program has been one of the major complaints from my peers and myself. For the first three weeks in site we had no contact from the tutoring program, which is stationed in Guambarae ( the training center where I spent my first ten weeks), in the beginning of January we were given our tutors, who said they were going to work with us once a week for two hours, in whatever things we need help with the language. Now on paper this sounds like a great idea, use the tutors who know how to teach Americans, save money because you are paying the tutors already, and the volunteers are all relatively being trained the same things. Reading the description and the Peace Corps pitch we were given I would think it’s not a bad idea at all. However, let us first share that nearly all of us are living in campo sites, where whether or not you have phone service means for me squatting on a specific patch of grass and tilting my head in just the right way so that it does not cut out. It also means that we are either using our phone credit to respond to text message riddles that sometimes my Paraguayan family do not even understand or using our internet to Skype with a tutor—which as you all know for me is not an option given that my internet only works in the wee hours of the night. And most importantly, I can barely understand my English speaking friends with my Nokia 90’s phone, so to expect me to use this phone to understand my second language so that I can adequately learn my third language, without the use of a visual aid, is just dog gone preposterous. In the past sessions I have had sensed the tension of my tutor as I repeatedly said “Como?”, “Como?” but just using my five months of Castellano, I do not think my language sufficed in thoroughly explaining that I understand Spanish, just my phone cuts out every other word, so this helping me with the pronunciation of an indigenous language is not working out so well as planned. As of lately I have conveniently missed the calls of my tutor, but despite my rant I do promise to give it a bit more effort, but as my tutored instructed, I first need to write down what I need to learn, because clearly that is obvious to us all….
Aside from the challenges of the new language tutoring program, things have been doing well in my site, a week ago I went to Asuncion to visit the Peace Corps office to bring back worms and abonos verdes, see some friends, most importantly my best friend here, Lisa, she is the awesome girl I met way back in the Sacramento airport, I know with time you all will get to know her, buy a bike with my old host brother from Cumbarity, buy bee equipment to start Apiculture I my site and all the random comforting things Asuncion has to offer- Hobbit in 3D, McFlurry ice cream, salad, pizza hut buffet and coffee. It was an amazing trip to say the least, only down side is how Asuncion serves as black hole for the money us volunteers make.
Returning from site, I came home to two amazing packages from my Dad and Ron, which was so special- getting stuff mailed to me really is such a great surprise and even just seeing the hand writing of people who matter a lot to me- is enough to bring my to tears. Returning from my trip to town, I brought with me a 15 meter cable, to try out this rumor of an antenna made out of aluminum, bamboo and a tv cable, to get an internet modem to go from not working to being able to skype. As excited as I was to give this a try, I hurried home put it together and went back to the table where I was working on earlier to find out that it had gone missing. I then spent the greater portion of that night and the next morning ripping apart my room looking for it, with it no where to be found. At the same time, I find out the beautiful three legged puppy that I had decided to care for the day before as it was skinnier then anyone would like to see with bloody diarrhea, had died during the night. Oh and the 80 year old abuela I have been living with, does not want to care for me anymore as her electricity bill has gone up a lot, and she doesn’t have the energy to care for me, so I am moving in next door with her daughter’s family, which turns out to be an amazing thing. After almost calling the police to report it robbed, the family makes one last attempt to look for it, and one of the son’s finds it about 12 meters away from the house pushed in the soil, beneath the rotting mango leafs, and where a kid clearly took it thinking it was a toy. After that I was just so happy to have it back, that I moved all my stuff to into my new house, and since then I have been just being a part of the family doing house hold things. And although I don’t want to stop, it’s about time I get back to work.