It doesn't hurt to ask..
It doesn't hurt to ask, a phrase that my Mom would often tell me when I was younger, and as much as I believe her, it can be a lot easier for those words to leave our lips than the actual action of asking it, which often requires a lot of courage. This past week I found myself starting to feel un-welcomed feelings that were very similar to the ones I had last year, which led me to a difficult period of time that was filled with doubt, uncertainty, dissatisfaction and a form of minor depression, which one of the causes, related to now, were problems in the
, where I felt under appreciated, disrespected and was questioning whether or not my work here was making a difference. Well since then, I have learned a lot about myself, my values and how to listen to my body. It really has changed me in such positive ways, so this time around when I felt these similar feelings coming up, I knew that I could make a positive change to prevent myself from entering the downward spiral.
The overall lack of motivation, disrespect, and negative energy by certain classes, were making me feel negative as a whole about my work, and no one ever wants to work when they're negative, nor work with a negative person, so I knew I had to make positive change.
Since the school year started in February, I bumped my schedule up from 4 days a week to 5 days a week, teaching a new class on Sex Ed, Life Values, Happiness ext., plus I revamped my Organic Gardening class, to include more small business planning, art projects and science experiments, working at full from 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.. All this ends up being a lot of work, as I am constantly thinking in Spanish and Guarani, trying to get kids to pay attention, at times teaching by myself, rather than with a teacher, and then spending my afternoon's catching up on housework, lesson plans, grading homework or working in my Garden (which I use as a teaching tool). This schedule was burning me out, not because of the work load but also that three out of six of my classes were not doing any of the homework, not actively participating in the classes, and most importantly being disrespectful and showing any interest. As a Peace Corps Volunteer, I don't believe that I should work with people who do not want to work with me, so I knew I needed to make a change with these classes, talk with my contact who is the high school principal to come up with a solution that would be better for everyone involved.
I was really nervous to talk to my contact about changing my schedule within the
, as I have spent so much time stressing the importance of Organic Gardening, that I thought she would have wanted me to stay and give these three (out of 6) classes another chance. Well I presented her with multiple projects that I have been wanting to do, but haven't been able to because I don't have any free time in the mornings. I shared with her my feelings, talked about the importance of
(to take advantage of) my last 6 months in site, by making great positive changes in the
as a whole. To my surprise, she loved my ideas, she supported me completely in my desire to change my schedule, as some of my projects will be working with the
, I will still be working with those other classes, but teaching subjects that I know they will be more interested in. It was such a great relief to know that I had her support. Later on I shared my new change with my best friend and Co-Teacher, Liz Paola, she supported me in the change, but encouraged me to give a final chance to one of the classes, so we decided to have a healthy conversation with the class about doing their homework and participation, fortunately all of them were on-board- I really hope that they stick to it, as it is a class that I truly do enjoy working with.
So to give you all an idea of what future projects I have in store for the
, here they are. Finishing up the Eco-Bench projects in the
, starting a trash management program, teaching about the habitats in Paraguay and painting a map on where they exist, teaching yoga/Zumba in P.E. classes, starting a tree nursery project, a tree planting project, and making short videos about Paraguay. As I start working on them, I'll try to post photos on how they are going.
Also, my Dad is coming to visit me in Paraguay, I am so excited that he will get a chance to see what my life is like down here, and also just to see him, having family and friends visit is such a special experience. What is really great about my Dad's visit is that he is coming down with a purpose, that will make a positive impact in thousands of lives. He has teamed up with some Rotarians in California, to donate over 3,000 shoes to Paraguay, under the condition that 200 or so will come out to my site. The shoes are a water aerobic shoes, which will work great here as it can often flood and leaves the street filled with mud. Rather than passing the shoes out to anyone who wants them, I have decided to make it a tree planting project, to help fight against reforestation. Any person in my site who wants a pair of shoes, will have to plant 5 trees (which I will give them for free, with hopefully the help of financial support from Rotary) and show that they are being taken care of. I have written up a short summary about the need of shoes/ tree planting in Paraguay, it has been used to help find donations for buying the trees. I hope you enjoy the quick read:
Paraguay is the heart of the South America, it is filled with a culture that goes back to being one of the richest countries in the world, to now a country that most times are just trying to get by. As a Peace Corps volunteer, I was given the opportunity to know a country that the rest of the world hasn't had a chance to know, and even more, a community that is trying to keep their identity while a powerful foreign presence has taken over the autonomy of the Paraguayans.
The community of Maracaná is a neighborhood of Dr. Juan Eulogio Estigarribia (ex Campo 9), a town where once existed the world famous Alto Paraná Atlantic Forest, is now dominated by corn, wheat and soy production. With little control of how the land is managed, in thirty years, my community consisted of a few families living in the forest, to now a agriculture and factory dominated area with hundreds of family crammed into a small area. The mentality and lifestyle of Maracaná, is that of a farmer and rural person, who 's food is grown or raised, and where the majority of mothers are stay at home mothers, and in turn have little income. The difficulty of this situation is that the rural lifestyle of the adults does not always keep up with the city lifestyle of their children, which influence is huge as the city is just 3 miles away. The proximity of towns provides great job opportunity to anyone who wants a higher paying factory job or higher education, and are are expected to have the same standards of preparation as the more well off city people, but often don't have the proper funding to do so.
The donation of the water resistant tennis shoe, will make a great positive difference in the lives of the people of Maracaná as it is durable, made of high quality material that won't fall apart within months like the shoes sold here. And it can easily be washed and dried, which is a big deal as our town are red dirt roads which in motorcycle (only form of transportation) means most often that clothes and shoes get dirty quicker, either by dust or mud. With these shoes anyone can feel the confidence that they provide proper support and reliability of working well in both the rural and city lifestyle.
As an environmental conservation Volunteer, I thought this shoe donation would be a perfect opportunity to do a tree planting project in my community to help combat the major deforestation that has happened. The exchange of a pair of shoes, for every person who plants and takes care of 5 trees, will be such a great success in combating the fight against deforestation. It will also be a great opportunity to teach people of all ages about the Alto Paraná Atlantic Forest, reforestation practices and environmental issues, as the shoes will be a need amongst everyone and will be a great way to get the community together for a great cause.
Planting trees is a project that members of my community have expressed interest in, but due to lack of funds within the local NGO's we haven't been able to get trees to plant. With the help of external funds, and working with local tree nurseries, we could make the difference of a 1,000 trees planted. This project will not only help improve the life of the people who plant the trees and get the shoes, but it will also help improve the life of many generations to come, leaving a positive lasting impact of reforestation.
Teacher Appreciation Day
My Guap@s Companeros.
Passion Fruit Fanta
Tree pose in the soy field
Where the road divides.
The time my road was flooded
Science Experiments :)
Fried Chicken and Waffels
My beautiful student who was adopted by an American mennonite family.
Vegetable Sign's, my students homework assignment
Carrot Sign for the garden
A charla, on California Worms
A tablon, vegetable bed