Sunday, July 21, 2013

Waking Up From Reality - Back Home

"We have left all the rest behind, one after another.  It seems almost like a dream that has slowly faded."

"Not to me," said Frodo.  "To me it feels more like falling asleep again."

I was handed that quote by a fellow volunteer. Who'd have thought a Hobbit could so perfectly capture the strangeness of leaving Paraguay. Each day Paraguay seems further away. It is floating back into the mists of the unknown. My once daily life now seems exotic and strange again. What was the dream, and what the reality?

Currently I sit on a comfortable couch, in a perfectly climate controlled room, staring out to a manicured lawn and pool. I've comfortably slipped back into my old life, my old reality. But how can this be real? How can a world with so many options and possibilities be anything but a dream. 

I can't possibly sum up these two years. What it meant, and what I did. I don't have any clear insights to the state of the world. I can't answer the question, "What is Development?" (But with some friends, a couple bottles of wine and a white board, I can try.) I can't really tell you anything more than when I started. I think I can tell you less. Certainty, right and wrong, and singular answers have all gone out the window. Maybe that's Paraguay's final gift and final challenge. I blamed Paraguay for all my confusion and struggle for the past two years, but maybe it wasn't Paraguay. The world is complicated and confusing. It just took Paraguay to show me that. 

I now simply look forward to the next great adventure, drifting from one dream to the next. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Just Dance.

So all things must come to an end, and so ends my time in Peace Corps, and Paraguay. I leave for the US tomorrow. Words right now seem insufficient to capture the past two years. I think it might be best expressed through dance.


G 36 Close of Service Soul Train from Julia Pretzlaff on Vimeo.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

You Know You're a Peace Corps Paraguay Volunteer When...

As the title would suggest.

You know you're a PCV Paraguay when:

You have a preference as to what soda you would like mixed with your wine.

You have at least three glasses that were formerly tomato sauce jars.

White socks are a luxury.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

After two years it's still hard

I generally try to write positively about my time here in Paraguay. I have never wanted to sugar coat, nor hide tough realities (God knows the food post ruffled some feathers), but I certainly have posted less in tough times than in good. This is partly because Peace Corps doesn't want us writing negatively about the countries that so graciously host us, and partly because I assume you don't want to read the musings of a depressed, boxed-wine-filled twenty-something, but mostly because it hasn't been all bad. This blog is filled with the incredible experiences I've had that I shared with remarkable people. While I will always think fondly of Paraguay, here's the reality: Peace Corps is hard, and it's not hard for any of the reasons people tell you. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Best Day of My Service!: Dangerous words

It seems to be a trend that at some point during one's service a loud proclamation is made:

"This is the Best Day of my service!" 

Sometimes that's followed up with a "so far" in general acknowledgment that the best day can't be decided upon 3 weeks into service. But more often it's followed with an epic decline back to the mundane that makes up most of being a Volunteer. 

These "Best Days" are usually when major projects finally come to pass. You feel accomplished. You take pictures. THIS is why you came here. But inevitably next week you are once again wondering what the hell you're doing, as you chase contacts to set stuff up and animals out of your yard. But that's ok, it's the way it goes. 

So there are a lot of good days I can think of in the past two years, but I'm gonna say yesterday was my best day. And I'm declaring it thus, because of it's mundane nature with a few seemingly small, but in reality, huge wins. There are no pictures. It wasn't even that exciting, but damn, it felt good. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Jovenes Empresarios del Paraguay: I'll miss you

Hello all,

My sincerest apologies for not posting sooner. I have no good reason. My best excuse is exhaustion. After one year of hard work, planning, and two major events, my involvement in the much talked about Jovenes Empresarios del Paraguay has come to a close, in order to make way for the next generation of Volunteers to take over and take it to the next level.
Future Entrepreneurs of Paraguay

Friday, January 11, 2013

Empower The Next Generation of Paraguayan Entrepreneurs

Hello Blogosphere! I have an important Project and I need your help!
Now owns his own photography and design business. 

For the past year I have worked as the project manager of a youth business development initiative called, Jovenes Empresarios del Paraguay (JEP), or Young Entrepreneurs of Paraguay. And we need some funds to make our work happen.

In three weeks time we will be launching another cycle of this initiative with a three day workshop in the capital with youth invited to participate from all over the country, called The Apprentice Challenge. As the name suggests this camp is modeled after the TV show the Apprentice, but without the Donald sending kids home in tears. Teams will compete in dynamic challenges that are not only fun, but teach basic business skills, team building and leadership.
Streamlining wool production.
The major industry in his town. 

We have developed this program with a local networking organization that is looking to give back and start developing future members, called the Association of Young Entrepreneurs of Paraguay (AJE). (Even our names are similar! It was an obvious partner.)

AJE and us are working very hard to make this camp a reality but we need your help. So I ask that you may contribute a small amount to this cause  Eighty dollars funds the full cost of one participant.

Last year she received $1000 to start her lettuce farm, and is looking forward to a strong harvest. 
I have written about this project in the past, telling of how we were able to give $1000 to a young woman to start her lettuce farm. I am glad to report, she is still operational and hopes for a successful first harvest.

Building Paraguay
Opening a brick factory for affordable construction
If you are unable to give monetarily, then please share this campaign with your network of family, friends, colleagues and anyone who may be interested in supporting this cause.

I want to thank you all so much for your support.