Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Why is it called a slumber party when there is no slumber?

I'm confused. Disoriented. I find myself in a whirling dervish of giggles and excited shrieks. The smell of nail polish is in the air, and hair scrunchies are flying. The scene feels oddly familiar, like that of a distant memory I've tried to block out, but also very very different.

I'm at a slumber party. 

In Paraguay. 

When Shavon first asked me to help at the sleepover she organized for her youth group, I drug my feet to to what would be the inevitable end. I don't work with youth all that much, especially not 9th graders, the age of this girls group. I didn't really know how to talk to 9th graders when I was in 9th grade, and not much has changed since then. But Shavon had promised the parents that there would be plenty of volunteer chaperons to watch the girls, so I agreed. In reality there was never any other option.

I had met the girls prior, and knew that they were a good bunch. But I hung out with them for no more than two hours last time, how was a whole night gonna work out? It turns out the girls didn't really know either. Sleepovers aren't typical in Paraguay. People, especially kids, aren't accustomed to sleeping somewhere other than their home, and parents aren't accustomed to giving this sort of permission. But the girls wanted to have an "American style sleepover" like they had seen on TV, and Shavon wanted to give them that. 

American TV is pretty big everywhere, and the kids especially love teen dramas based in America. I've been asked a million times if high school in America is really like Gossip Girl. (Answer: NO.) My favorite question I receive about American high school is about lockers. The kids here think that lockers are the coolest thing ever. To have their own personal space at school where they can decorate, pass notes, and talk to their friends. When I think about it, I have to agree with them.

Well this sleep-over did not disappoint. Among the classics were painting nails, truth and dare, and eating lots of sugar. Shavon cooked a feast of tacos with brownies for dessert. And just when the sugar high was about to come crashing down, she busted out with the Coke floats. Seriously, who thinks of that? The most entertaining part is that half the girls were too scared to try the ice cream soda mixture. I had two.

Without a doubt, the highlight of the evening was karaoke  The girls formed two groups and each put on a performance for the other. Only to unite for a pretty epic Gangnam Style at the end.

Young Ambassador of Paraguay and Rockstar
Getting to know the girls better, I couldn't help but be impressed by this group. They are a pretty awesome bunch. Aside from having fun and being silly, these girls help at a local soup kitchen for the hungry, and organize a variety of community projects. One girl is going to be traveling to the US in the coming months for a youth ambassador program. She confessed to being  nervous about her English, and that she might say something embarrassing to her host family. We volunteers did our best to hold in our laughter. Fact is, she is going to say something embarrassing  It's a host family rite of passage, but there's no need to stress her out even more. So we kept quiet and stayed positive. I'm certain she'll do great.

Sometime well past my bed time, we all snuggled up and fell asleep to Buscando Nemo (Findgin Nemo in Spanish). It had been a great night, and maybe the best sleepover I've been to. Congrats to Shavon for working with such a stellar group of girls, and for all the obvious time put in to making this a special night for them. It was one of the moments, that I looked around with a chuckle thought to myself, "This is my job?"  Being a PCV can sometimes be a long heavy trudge but the highlight reel comes out looking great. And I've got to say, it's totally worth it.
Up to no good.