Some big things have been afoot here in Paraguay! While we are missing our family and friends in the US (like, literally all the time), we have accepted a position to extend our Peace Corps service an extra 6 months. While we are sad to not be coming home as soon as we previously expected, we are very excited for this opportunity on both a professional and personal level. We wanted to pass along a little more information about where we will be going, what we will be doing, and some other points. We tried to keep it brief and we will also be getting more information in the coming weeks.
New Dates – We will finish up in our site at the end of November. We will take a bit of a vacation and then move to our new location at the end of December. We will be working there until May 29th, 2020 (This is a hard-close date). We will travel and have an estimated arrival back in the USA in mid-June.
Where we will be going? – Our new site will be in a region of northwest Paraguay called the Chaco. The Gran Chaco comprises over 60% of Paraguay’s surface area, and is the second-largest extension of forest cover in South America after the Amazon (its area extends into much of Bolivia and Argentina as well). It is an important economic center, with cattle and soy beans. Due to increase in production and the accompanying environmental and social impacts, this region has become both a national and international priority for the government and non-governmental organizations.The Paraguayan Chaco population is a diverse mix of indigenous, Mennonite and latinos (as those of non-Mennonite European heritage are referred). Below are a couple of links talking about WWF’s work in the Chaco and some environmental threats in the Chaco.
What we will be doing? – There will be two parts to this project.
- The first part will be site identification and preparation. At this point there are no volunteers in the Chaco. Our country director and safety team have made multiple trips to the site and they have determined it is a safe and good location for us. We will be the first volunteers to create relationships, work with partner organizations, and be eyes on the ground for the Peace Corps Post in Paraguay to prepare for potential future volunteers. Some of this work will include:Work with municipalities to identify possible action areas for PCVs in four distinct sectors;
- Work to identify key contacts and community leaders with whom PCVs may collaborate;
- Communicate findings with PC/Paraguay office staff and discuss possible opportunities and challenges;
- Work with office staff to liaise with organizations with central offices in Asunción to identify projects in the area that could benefit from the presence of a PCV.
- The second part will be working with our assigned contacts in
the municipality – the Secretary of Education and the Secretary of Urban
Planning, as well as national and internationally recognized organizations, one
being the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and others within Paraguay to create a
curriculum of environmental education that can be implemented in this district.
Due to the diverse population, there are multiple environmental and
social/cultural factors that are involved this work. For example, while Spanish
is the principal language spoken, it is possible to hear German, English,
Portuguese, Ayoreo, Nivaclé, Guaraní, Enlhet and other indigenous languages in
the town center. This work includes but is not limited to:
- Management activities with educational or neighborhood institutions;
- Environmental education with local community groups;
- Support municipal environmental and education secretariats in the implementation of environmental education activities in schools and outside of school hours;
- Eco-clubs with local youth;
- Create a guide of good practices for environmental education with indigenous groups;
- Support municipal urban planning secretariats on territorial planning and land use
Why: This will be an incredible opportunity professionally to work more closely not only with the Peace Corps organization, but with worldwide recognized organizations. We will be able to further improve our Spanish and see and new part of Paraguay.
Michimi: We wouldn’t forget about our child! Yes, Michimi will be coming with us to the Chaco and eventually back to the US in June.
We will be posting a more general update soon, as well as some guest blogs! Hope you all are enjoying the beginning of fall (a kind of nonexistent season here – we are missing it!), and the rush of new activities. Also, sorry there aren’t more pictures in this post. We got lazy and it takes forever for them to upload on our internet. More next time!
Dylan & Alli