While much of training is spent in the Centro-i drilling lessons into our heads, there are plenty of training sessions out and about in the Paraguayan cities and countryside. This weekend, I had the opportunity to visit a volunteer in a small central town of about 5000 inhabitants. During my stay, I learned all about volunteer life, cooperatives, and ao po'i.
The volunteer I visited has a pretty chuchi lifestyle in her small artisan town. She has her own house attached to a host family's home, running water, electricity, and even internet just as in my current training city. No supermercado in town, but she does have a really nice dispensa. The town has a centrally located church and plaza with her cooperative right across the street. Because the town is rather rural, I got to practice my Guarani plenty too! (I´ll do an extensive post on Guarani in the near future. It´s tough, but a really awesome language.) All in all, the town is really a cute place to live. The cooperative the volunteer worked in is comprised of a group of community members (mostly women) that work together to make and sell embroidered clothing called ao poí. Over the weekend, I was able to learn all about the tela (cloth) used, as well as a very basic floral pattern. A good USA comparison is cross stitching, same basic idea really. Given my past history with cross stitch, I was able to pick it up quite quick. I even finished a napkin over the weekend with blue tela and white stitching.
The biggest lessons from the stay, however, were: 1) I love this town size- small and manageable with a fairly close knit community, and 2) I need to learn Guarani much more during training as it´s very necessary for life outside of the capital area. Practical training is truly invaluable, I certainly learned more this weekend about Paraguay and my new job than I had in the couple of weeks prior.