Long Field Practice (LFP)
noun – / lɔŋ fild ˈpræk·tɪs /
A “guided…opportunity for trainees to experience the life and work of a Peace Corps Volunteer” while using “technical and language skills…to seek out and connect with community resources (such as local NGOs, municipalities, coops, small businesses, schools, and other services available)….”
Peace Corps Pre-service Training Week 6: LFP in Paraguay
Last week Peace Corps Paraguay aspirantes packed their bags and traveled to other communities for LFP. Three colleagues and I went to a town in the Department of Caaguazú about a three-hour drive from the training center.
We focused on improving our Spanish and Guaraní language skills by organizing, planning, and giving charlas, or lectures, focused on our Peace Corps sector goals.
My LFP partners and I are health volunteers and focus on goal #2 of the Peace Corps Paraguay Health Sector:
Life Skills and Reproductive Health in Youth: Community members … adopt behaviors and practices to reduce risky sexual behaviors in youth and increase healthy choices.
Each group partnered with a current volunteer. We helped Jorge, a super hard-working dude, with a mini-camp for Paraguayan youth in two schools in his community.
The name of the camp was Jaikoporã’i, or “we live beautifully.” In addition to Peace Corps resources, Jorge designed the camp using materials from two other organizations:
(1) Grassroots Soccer: “an adolescent health organization that leverages the power of soccer to educate, inspire, and mobilize at-risk youth in developing countries to overcome their greatest health challenges, live healthier, more productive lives, and be agents for change in their communities.”
(2) HeForShe: “a solidarity campaign for the advancement of women initiated by UN Women. Its goal is to engage men and boys as agents of change by encouraging them to take action against negative inequalities faced by women and girls.”
Our Grassroots Soccer activities included relay races and ball games that helped us facilitate a discussion on healthy practices in relationships.
I did a Charla with my fellow aspirante, Chloe. Using HeforShe material, we introduced the difference between sex and gender in order to talk about the importance of gender equality.
This was a tough topic. Tough for our charla and tough for a blog topic. In Paraguay, “women retain a subordinate role in society, suffering widespread discrimination in a society heavily dominated by machista cultural values…. Though it is changing, Paraguay is still a conservative, male-dominated society.”*
For me, it was pretty also challenging speaking about these heavy topics in Spanish and Guaraní. Right now, I can’t maneuver in these languages with ease or agility.
However, despite this disadvantage, the students did participate.
Some of the boys said they would help their sisters and moms at home with housework, a stereotypical task for women. One boy told me he could be a nurse when he grew up. After much discussion, some boys eventually agreed that women could be strong after stating that men are obviously, in fact, undeniably, definitely way, way stronger. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but it was progress.
We also faced some weather setbacks and had to cancel one of the four camps. Even with this challenge, 198 kids participated. Jorge texted us saying that the camp was a hit with the community. Jorge is planning another camp in the future for more kids.
I am super proud to have been a part of this team!
Oh yeah, the Community Economic Development Sector did LFP, too
Nick also did a Community Economic Development long field practice in a different town. Our colleague, Jamie, has a nice post on their excursion, including details on the charla on citizenship the two of them gave to a local youth group. She also has the 411 on how language classes went down during LFP.
And a little update if you’ve made it this far…
This week we have our second interviews with our respective program managers. In two weeks, we will learn where our site will be for the next two years. Stay tuned!
* Roett, Riordan and Richard Scott Sacks, “The Status of Women,” Peter Lambert and Andrew Nickson, eds. The Paraguay reader: history, culture, politics. Durham and London: Duke University Press (2013).
A note on machismo in the context of a Peace Corps blog: Peace Corps requires that volunteer blogs be “respectful of Paraguayan culture, politics, and values.” Gender relations are a sensitive subject and were hard to address in the classroom and in this blog. (And, of course, they are an everyday reality for Paraguayans).
However, I needed to provide the context for our educational themes during LFP. I feel that playing down the current state of affairs in Paraguay would leave the reader without needed information. I elected to cite a scholarly work in hopes that my comments won’t be misinterpreted.