It’s been a busy few weeks since we got to Peace Corps Pre-service Training in Paraguay. Just to give you an idea of what we’re doing, here’s a typical day.
A day in Peace Corps pre-service training, Paraguay
6.10 am: wake up, eat a quick breakfast of instant coffee and a banana
7.00-7.30ish: about half the time I catch a ride with our language teachers to a neighboring town called Villeta. Angela goes to Guasu Cora. Other days, we walk to the main training center for class.
We have to do this because Angela and I are in different sectors and have to study language in two separate towns.
Most other trainees live in neighboring towns according to their sector: community economic development (CED) or community health (CH). Since Angela and I are different sectors, it makes logistical sense for us to live near the main training center (in Guarambaré) and commute to where most of the others live.
Some days we split our time between the satellite sites and the main training center.
~8.00 – lunch: language class.
No Spanish instruction since we interviewed at the intermediate level. We are only learning Guaraní “from” Spanish. CED trainees need to get a novice-mid within ten weeks. CH folks need an intermediate-mid because they’re mostly going to sites in the campo (rural areas). (Angela I will be in the same site, of course).
The classes are in groups of four people and focus on “communication” rather than grammar.
Paraguay is unique in the Americas in that an indigenous language is spoken by nearly the entire population.
Technically we are learning Jopará, which a mix of Spanish and Guaraní.
It’s very different from European languages. To get an idea of how it sounds, here’s an audio clip of Guaraní greetings. They’re saying:
“How are you?”
“Very well, and you?”
“Very well, too.”
They sneak cultural tidbits into language class. For example, a lesson on the national drink, tereré:
Tereré is huge and deserves its own post later.
Midday: 1.5 hours in the satellite training facility (Centro’i, “little Center”) or one hour in the main center.
At the Centro’i we eat with a local family in our respective communities. At the main Centro, our host mom packs us a lunch.
The food is carb heavy. It’s tasty, but not spicy. Kind of Mid-Western in US terms. Here’s an example:
Borí Borí is a corn dumpling soup and usually made with beef, pork, or chicken. Angela’s holding mandi’o, or mandioca/yuca/cassava. It’s basically their side of bread, rice, or potato they eat with nearly every meal.
13.00 – 1700ish: Technical training or administrative stuff.
Both CED and CH sectors have their own training, although we do the admin or universal training together (e.g., medical briefings and Peace Corps admin).
Examples of CED tech: a mock marketing analysis on a local business; business culture case studies; visits to relevant organizations or government ministries in Asunción; briefings on the Paraguayan school system. Our fellow aspirante has a good post on training in the CED sector.
Examples of CH tech: visits to local health posts; briefings on the Paraguayan health system; nutrition and fitness demos; classes on how to communicate with locals about maternal health or diabetes and hypertension, for instance.
They bake “hands on” teaching into to the pedagogy of Peace Corps Paraguay. Honestly, a lot of “ice-breakers,” skits, etc. that I’m not comfortable with. But they tell us it’s useful because a lot of us will be working with youth, defined as those under age 30. I’ve also been told it works on loosening up older Paraguayans a bit and makes teaching easier.
After work, we walk home from the Centro or take the van back from the Centro’i.
We’ll play an occasional soccer game with other trainees…and sometimes local kids.
They beat us 4-3, by the way.
Paraguayans are laid back and we do a lot of sitting, talking, and drinking tereré.
There are birthday parties, sunday lunches, and the occasional festival. On Ash Wednesday we went to mass with the family.
Angela even found a local Zumba chapter. (She plans on giving a nutrition and exercise to the women in the class).
So that’s a typical day más o menos.
A little 411
More to come. Nos vemos.