Already halfway done with Peace Corps Pre-service Training (PST) in Paraguay! In this post I’m going to show you our “Aspirantes en Acción” project.
Aspirantes en Acción, our Health Charla in Peace Corps Paraguay
Aspirantes en Acción (AeA) simulates the Peace Corps development model to get us used to how it might be in our future sites. AeA asks us to build relationships with locals in our community, assess their needs, and work together on a small project. Since we only have ten weeks in our training site, this assignment is more about the process.
For our project, a fellow aspirante, Hannah, and I taught a mini-class on general exercise tips before a Zumba class. I found out about the class through my host family and by talking to people I saw exercising in the park.
Zumba Classes in Paraguay
The Zumba class is funded by the municipalidad, the local city hall. For a bit of background, a group of about 15 women walked into city hall one day and asked for the resources, venue, and money to make this class happen for the community. They were already a very capable group.
I started going to the class with my fellow Peace Corps aspirantes (trainees) and we began getting to know everyone. We chatted with people before and after class and took un montón of selfies with them. Pics are usually taken after Zumba in a sweaty, frenzied, giggly gaggle. It was just my speed because I am goofy like that too.
Charla Time, Let’s Talk Health
On to our charla (lecture or talk). My compañera and I made a poster discussing general exercise tips and shared them in both Spanish and Guaraní. To be more interactive, we encouraged the participants to write their reason for doing Zumba.
Our expectation was that people would write statements like: “I Zumba to lose weight,” or “I Zumba to have fun.” We got some of that, of course, but we also saw some profound statements about how exercise helps with friendships, mental health, physical health, self-esteem, and breaking gender expectations. There was even something about lowering cholesterol, so we can add “preventing non-communicable diseases,” too.
Here’s the beginning of our charla. Watch this 24 second video to get a feel for the charla. What great language practice!
Of course we Zumba-ed!
We also let the niñas y niños who attend the class with their parents color and add whatever they wanted to the poster. They were shy at first and didn’t take our markers, but after a little time they got right into it. They even started dancing in the front of the room instead of the back like they normally do.
Getting a Feel for Peace Corps-style Health Work
If we were in Guarambaré for more time, we would have liked to do more health charlas and maybe focus on developing the little kids’ health literacy in order to live out better life choices as teenagers and young adults. While we won’t be in town long enough to develop this series of talks into something bigger, this experience gave us some insight into what we can do in our future site.
Thanks for tuning in!
A bit of 411: Nick and I are heading to a multi-day training (Long Field Practice) in other towns so we might be out of touch until late next week.