This week I traveled to another part of the Districto Central for my Long Field Visit, a week´s worth of ¨field practice¨ in a potential volunteer site before we take the plunge in August. The town I visited was only a half hour away from my training community, but it felt like I could have been several hours outside of Asuncion. The mix of campo and ciudad in Paraguay is quite staggering, once you leave the ruta another world opens up. This town very much felt like the campo, comprised of 6 city blocks in all directions with only one sector of empedradas (cobblestones), no supermercado, heavy on the chisme (gossip). That being said, it had all the amenities that any nice Paraguayan town should have- even water, electricity, and internet (granted they say much of this is left over from Stroessner years of privileged treatment... a story for another day).
During my stay in this town, I had a very packed schedule including a visit to Municipalidad (local government), Cruz Roja (Red Cross), Centro de Salud (health center), Comité de Niñez (youth group/government), a yogurt factory, and much much more.
In each of these locals, we completed an interview asking questions ranging from how they got started to projects we may be able to work on together. It was clear over the 5 days that there was a lot a volunteer could do. Additionally, we helped out at a local technical school teaching computer classes and helping students practice writing CVs and interviewing skills. In the past, the students had left the school with computer skills but were unsuccessful in the job market... we are hoping to see a turn-around with a bit more focus on marketing the self in these classes.
While it was an exhausting week, I certainly learned a lot from the experience. On the one hand, I need a whole lot more Spanish before I can teach anything to the level necessary. Practice needed! On the other hand, I feel like I can totally do this. I definitely see the challenges ahead, especially for these first several months of getting to know people and working on my language, but it´s possible.