Finding a Purpose
The first three months in site are known to be the most horrendous months in your service. As volunteers in the sector medio ambiental, we first come to site in the hottest months of the year, where school is just ending, and families spend their summers in the house avoiding the heat. Along with the initial shock of being placed in site, not knowing how to speak the language well, we also are given the task of figuring out what we will be working with. I spent my first three months learning Spanish and Guarani, walking to every house in my town, and trying to find outlets in the community where I could share my passion for reforestation, animals, and healthy living and eating. From talking to people in the community and with my host family, I have been learning that this is a harder task than I thought, and it made the fact that my Peace Corps contact being the High School Principal was a blessing in disguise.
When I originally entered Peace Corps I didn’t picture myself working with kids, teaching English classes, and often talking about everything but environmentalism, but here I am now doing all of these things, and I have finally found purpose as my role of a Volunteer. Many failed attempts trying to pry my way into the community, I was able to fall back to my natural enjoyment for working with high schoolers, a love that I acquired from all those years as a Camp Counselor, a lack of vegetables in my diet, and desperate to connect with people in the community that was not a part of my amazing host family, I have found myself working at least three hours a day in the local colegio.
My contact being the High School Principal has opened so many doors for working one on one with the jovenes, collaborating with teachers, and feeling an immediate sense of purpose. All in which are experiences that many Volunteers struggle with, as School faculty can be intimated by a volunteer’s ambition or at times simply do not have the time to squeeze in a new person. My contact immediately set me up with the high school’s Environmental Science teacher, Liz Paolo. We first met back in December at the graduation party of my contacts daughter, there we danced until four morning, sharing glasses of beer, and taking photos with her over the top Asuncion city boyfriend, who reminded me of someone you would see in a calendar of South American Lovers. To add to it she considers herself an outspoken feminist, is a single Mom, has spent time in Spain, and not afraid to share personal information, like her four tattoos, so I was excited to meet someone that challenges some of the traditional conservative thoughts of Paraguayans. And most importantly, she is filled to the brim with a love for the Environment and all things Science, loves challenging the students to think out of the box by creating a life for themselves through education and hard work. In so many ways, I can see how well we would get along, if I weren’t consumed with being careful of the things I say around my colleagues and students. As I know that dependent on who is listening, could cause some unnecessary rumors, though I know with time I can open up to her, just like I have been able to with my family, only in the confidence that no one else is around.
Any ways back to topic, with this professor I Immediately have started a competition within the high school of what grade can make the best garden. Every week I have a new lecture prepared, in which all grades are taught the same material, and are given similar task on what work they need to do in their portion of the garden. So far we have covered how abiotic and biotic elements make up an Ecosystem, what defines a species, the difference between Organic gardening and Conventional gardening and Permaculture. Working with the students, I’m finding out that many of the times they know what I am talking about but are to timid to share; reminds me of myself back in school, so I try to say things that I always wished my Teachers would have said to help me feel comfortable to speak up.
Along with my Environmental class, I have started helping with the English class, and have started an English class on the side for the grades who do not have it with the Professor, it has only happened once, but the one time was a lot of fun, I plan to practice mostly on pronunciation and basic conversation techniques. As another form to share my culture from the states, starting next Wednesday, I will lead the high schooler and faculty interested in an hour long yoga class. Lately I have been reading up on different routines, and feel like I could lead a pretty good class here- we will see.
Outside of working in the High School, all my time has been spent in my host family’s house passing the time and putting all of my money into the house that I am trying to finish off building. We originally planned for it to be finished March 5, the day I had my site presentation but at that point it was missing basically everything, then we decided it should be ready by March 18 ( the next time my boss could come to check it out) but money didn’t come through and we were missing the flooring, bathroom and electricity, we’re now aiming for April 2
all the money has come through, but with the recent ongoing rain storms, work has been slow. As of today we have put in all of the doors and windows. What we are missing is the bathroom accessories (toilet, sink, shower), flooring of the bathroom, electricity and the water line. Sounds like a lot, which it is a lot, but I’m really hoping that we can get it all finished by April 2
, the next time my boss can come out here to inspect it. Each day I grow more tired of my room that is slowly over filling with boxes, the brownish-red color that has taken over everything I own, not having control of my diet, and the lack of control I have in general and guiltiness that over whelms me when ever I spend a great amount of time on my computer. I have such an immense love for my host family, and I am certain that I will miss them once it is time to live on my own, but at the end of the day, I need my space and not until I live on my own, will I feel content with my life.
Construction of mi casa