April 11, 2014
Photos, Computers and Friends
It’s hard to believe that Jon and I are coming to the end of our service. This July we will be making our way back home. They say that the Peace Corps is the “toughest job you’ll ever love,” and I couldn’t agree more. While I wouldn’t trade this experience in Villarrica for anything, it definitely hasn’t been a walk in the park for either of us. It has now been almost two years since we last touched American soil. We miss family, we miss the comforts, we miss friends. So thank you, thank you to all of those that have made that void a little smaller for us, sending us encouraging messages and updating us on life, Skyping with us, mailing us packages full of goodies and letters, we truly appreciate it. And thank you to those who have visited us or met us elsewhere in Latin America. Seeing familiar loved faces is always a welcome respite.
Today I wanted to share some highlights of what life has been like lately. And by that I mean these past 8 months.
A while back I shared pictures of our town taken by our students. Below is an image of the final exhibition of the photography course. Everyone was pretty excited to find their photos.
When we first visited our town one of the first places we went to was the Telecentro, a free public computer lab run by a local NGO and the municipality. The lab had 10 computers that were 14 years old. They were so old that they couldn’t run Windows, which in turn meant no MS Office. With the staff in the lab I wanted to teach computer classes, but felt it would be irrelevant doing it with Linux. I crunched numbers to see how much we needed to replace the computers and it was just too much to ask family and friends back home for.
A couple of months later we received an email from our boss stating there were unused grant funds available for community projects. I jumped on the opportunity, asked if my idea was a worthy project, Peace Corps responded with a yes, I filled out a grant application, then tweaked it, tweaked it some more, submitted it, and received the funds needed. Though I might make seem like it was a quick process, it certainly wasn’t. The whole process took many months. Once we had the funds, it was a logistical nightmare to actually order the computers, but in the end we got the new computers, got them installed and had a wonderful inauguration to celebrate.
Since then we taught one basic computer class and are now teaching our second. I will be the first to admit that teaching computer skills is not the most enjoyable job in the world, but it certainly is a necessary skill for the students. You feel quite proud when your student, who could barely click when he started, can now adeptly navigate his way through MS Word, inserting images, creating a title, and writing you a personal Thank You message.
In November we celebrated my birthday. I felt SO loved and grateful. A couple of highlights: 1) The staff at the building we work at organized a small party full of yummy food. 2) I made cupcakes to share with the teachers at the school I work at and they surprised me with a gift of earrings. 4) Due to negligence on my part I forgot my cellphone and missed two of my favorite girls visiting me with ice cream in hand, and 5) In the afternoon Sonia and her lovely family visited with a beautiful cake.
For Christmas one of my favorite families invited us to their home. We had some delicious food, including asado (grilled meat), cow tongue a la vinaigrette, and sopa paraguaya (cheesy cornbread) and got to experience a Paraguayan Christmas. In turn I taught them how to decorate sugar cookies.
Right after Christmas, our very good friends Trisha and Greg came to visit. They arrived to Paraguay via first class treatment; they were literally the only two passengers on their entire jet, with 5 flight attendants. We did some exploring of Paraguay, hung out in our town, and also got to visit the Iguazu waterfalls in Argentina. I was glad that they also fell in love with the Paraguayan custom of drinking terere; they even bought their very own customized thermos to take back with them. Cheers to some of the most relaxed, easygoing travelers, and best friends ever!
I have more to share, but don’t want to bore you all to death! So we’ll leave this little recap here, sending lots of love to those near and far!