This weekend, I attended an inspirational and completely outstanding Youth Leadership Camp (Part II- the second encounter) on the border between Argentina and Paraguay outside of Aeolas. Part I of the Youth Leadership Camp took place last January, during which the youth participated in sessions on leadership, management, and entrepreneurship with various business leaders from around Paraguay (and volunteers of course). This camp involved youth and Peace Corps volunteers from numerous parts of the country coming together to facilitate training sessions on leadership/team building skills as well as to present projects they´ve been working on in their communities for the last six months. Albeit, the local of this follow-up camp was a bit sketch (we stayed in these abandoned dormitories which once served as the housing for construction workers on the Yacyretá dam... big pile of broken down cars in the back and a very creepy and rundown industrial kitchen BUT free). Yet, the results: OUTSTANDING! The facilitated sessions were extremely well organized and presented with the utmost enthusiasm.The projects ranged from planting trees to creating community centers and teaching technology classes. By the end of the camp, I realized two things:
1) The jovenes (so called ¨youth¨ ranging from ages 18-30) facilitated in 2 days basically all of the trainee facilitated sessions we´re doing in our tech training over a period of 2 months.
2) If this is what the future of Paraguay looks like, things are looking great!
All this in mind, I left camp feeling a bit torn on my role in the whole scheme of Community Economic Development in Paraguay. Am I really needed here? Heck, they already know it all! However, the ride home gave me an opportunity to think my part over. Behind every one of the youth I saw this weekend, there was a strong and dedicated volunteer there encouraging, teaching, and often hidden in the mix. While it´s clear that the youth of Paraguay have got it going on (no doubt), Peace Corps has certainly been there all along to help those shooting stars shine that much brighter. They say that the best development workers are those that are hardly mentioned after they leave because the community takes all the credit- ¨we did it!¨ And that is exactly how it should be. I am excited to see what more us G33 volunteers can do with these youth and to expand the program to other cities and a greater number of youth in the future. Go PCPY team!