Saturday, December 18, 2010

Pero... le gusta carne

We have all heard the fish analogy- give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day; teach a man to fish, he'll eat for a lifetime. Since I've joined the Peace Corps, I have heard that phrase time and time again. We are talking here about the sustainability of projects that are started by volunteers, and while I totally relate on the one hand... there is something missing to this lovely metaphor on the other. I live in Paraguay. It is a landlocked country. While we do have rivers, not all that many people actually eat fish. The truth is- Paraguayans like carne (meat), and no matter how many times I teach people to fish they'll never use the knowledge because at the end of the day what they really want is a charred steak straight off the asado (BBQ).

Silly as it may sound phrasing my situation as such, I feel deeply entrenched in a personal dilemma. Thus far in Paraguay, I've spent a lot of time focusing on Peace Corps' teaching how to fish- Construye tus SueƱos, Juegos de Ingles, Hora de Cuento- but that is not at all what is going to last when I leave site in 2 years. No, not even remotely. I'll bet everyone will forget I ever even did any of that. Why? Because the people want carne, and that's what we need to be focusing on. It may not be on my list of indicators or take precedence in my PC project plan outlined by who knows who, who knows where, but that is what will last.

This week I finished up many of my first projects in site. Most prominently, I finished up pretty much all of my taught courses. And here's where I've decided to stop teaching these packaged capacitation programs. Indeed, they keep my mind busy, but they just don't go the distance for my community. From now on, I focus on the carne versus the fish. When the people want it, and we work together to get there... that's when we see the real results.

Watch out cows! We're taking this countryside by slaughter.

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