Here is the story of the current political situation in
Paraguay. I have compiled my own research and conversations with staff from the
school to try and give a comprehensive picture. On Friday, June 22nd
the Paraguayan Congress impeached the country’s president, Fernando Lugo who
was elected in 2008. Lugo was part of the movement in Latin America toward
left-leaning presidents and is seen as a strong advocate for social programs
and especially the rural poor. He was unable to enact many of the policies he
promised, however, because of a Congressional majority by the opposition party,
History: Lugo was the FIRST president not from the
dictatorial party, Colorado. The Colorado Party ruled as dictators for thirty
years, ending in 1989, and then their party’s candidates were elected up until
Lugo in 2008. The Colorado party still has a significant portion of
Congressional seats. Lugo ran as part of a coalition government with the
support of the Liberal Party, Colorado’s main rival. Lugo’s vice president was
from the Liberal Party.
I have been on a rotation of the different parts of the school in order to see them all before I start my own projects. This has been a great way to learn more about the school's model as well as meet more of the students and staff. First and second year students go through all the rotations as well, spending a month at each section and then choosing one to specialize in, where they will spend their entire third year.
Tuesday- 'Planta Láctea', where all of the dairy products are processed. I cut, deseeded, and peeled pumpkins for two hours to make marmalada de zapallo (a cross between jam and dulce de leche) and watched them start the process for dulce de leche, made from our own cows' milk.
I have arrived at the agriculture school where I will be working for the next two months! It is a three year program for students from ages 15 to 18, the majority of which are from campesino families around Paraguay. There are also students from Ecuador(!!), Argentina, Haiti, Bolivia, and maybe more but I am not sure. It is a boarding school so the wake-up bell rings at 5:45am, breakfast is at 7am after morning chores, and all students must be in their rooms by 9:30pm. The three grades are split into two sections and alternate one week of class in the field and then a week of classroom teaching. The curriculum is very intensive, with only half a day off on Saturday.
Here is an image of the school from Google Maps. The red dot is on the hotel, the trees to the left are where the buildings are and to the right are most of the gardens. You can zoom out to see where the school is within Paraguay.
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I have not yet met all of the staff and teachers that I will be working with, but so far everyone I have met has been extremely welcoming and excited to have me here. There is a family with two young children from the United States and a South African English teacher, otherwise no other interns.
As many of you know I am spending this summer after graduating from University of the Pacific working at Fundación Paraguaya. This organization was founded by a Paraguayan alumnus from Pacific and works with three initiatives - microfinance, entrepreneurial education, and sustainable agricultural education. I will be working at the San Francisco Sustainable Agricultural School about an hour (by car) or two hours (by bus) from the capital of Asunción. I spent the weekend meeting other interns working in the capital from Singapore, Australia, United States, South Korea, Paraguay, Spain, South Africa, and France; on Monday I will go to the school and begin settling in there.
I am excited to be jumping back into speaking Spanish, visiting a new country (for me), and learning more about the financially sustainable school model that Fundación Paraguaya uses and their sustainable agriculture programs.