Thursday, August 9, 2012

HALF TIME: One year in Paraguay

Sometimes it's hard to consider what I do work. If I  made one friend here in Paraguay, and kept up with this blog, I would accomplish two thirds of the tasks I am asked to do as a Peace Corps Volunteer. But I'm kinda shitty at making friends so I end up doing work.

Paraguay's Donald Trump is some where in this pic.
For the past year I have dabbled in a variety of projects. From exercise to kindergarten, I've done my best to keep busy. Some projects succeeded; most failed. This is my life.

Teaching kids to glue pasta to a piece of paper is not a wasted project, but you gotta define "impact" and "developement" broader than Texas' interpretation of the second amendment to think that's why I came here. However, this past weekend the reasons as to why I picked up my life and moved to this tiny country in the heart of South America were abundantly clear.

Gettin' the lettuce for the lettuce.
Marking my one year anniversary of Peace Corps Service, I gave away a thousand dollars in seed funding to one very deserving Paraguayan youth in order to start her organic lettuce farm.

Ok so I didn't give it away. I don't have that kind of cash just lying around. But I did organize the event that made it happen. For the past six months I've been heading up The Young Entrepreneurs of Paraguay business competition that invited youth from across the country to present and defend their business plans in front of a panel of judges who decided whom would win the coveted 5 million guaranies.

Work it!
I'm super glad I didn't have to pick the winner. The quality of the plans far exceeded my expectations. I would just go Oprah on every one. YOU GET 5 MILLION, AND YOU GET 5 MILLION!

Although everyone was there to win, the objective of the event had very little to do with the money. I am most proud that for three days I had the privileged to show a group of kids that the business community is not out of reach, and they are not alone in trying to use business to improve their lives. There are other weird, driven, hopeful kids out there just like them. I hope the kids walked away recognizing their potential, and encouraged to keep going regardless whether they won.

Industry lunch where youth got to meet PY Business leaders
The weekend wasn't all business. What would a PC event be with out Ice breakers and a dance party? How Amy and I ended up heading up the dance party efforts is beyond me. We generally head up the sit in the corner and be snarky party, but sometimes you just gotta complete the task at hand.

By the end I was completely exhausted and in much need of some well deserved pizza and beer with my planning committee. However there is no rest for the weary, we are already thinking about our next event, fundraising, programming and getting the new batch of volunteers involved. If last weekend was any indication, I'm super looking forward to it.

So here's to one more year. This shit just got real.

Shavon (PCV), clearly having a good time.