have not really done any work here. still in training and we’re on our last stretches of it. we’re about to know our future site by monday and meet our contacts after that. in training, we’re still getting a background where a volunteer could be useful and do some work in the municipality. we’ve also done some trips and visits to other volunteer’s site. along with 3 other people in my group, technical trainer, and language teacher, i went out last week to visit a volunteer’s site for a week. i try my best not to get caught up on these visits on seeing or comparing what my future site would be. it’s hard for me to come in with any expectations, making parts of the big picture blurry. don't get me wrong, i did enjoy most of it. the travel, the observations, especially visiting a 100% sustainable cotton factory. to get a background and idea of how a volunteer live is a great experience as well. it gives me an idea of what I do or don’t want when it’s my turn to do my service.
my hosts family just keeps getting better and better. we’re all smooth sailing. they’ve definitely been supportive and understanding. the big event right now, alongside the usual everyday life, is the local football games. soccer here , is not only a PASSION. IT’S A RELIGION. from my little hosts niece to my hosts mother, they are tuned whether on radio or from families and friends visiting the house. my hosts dad is also the president of the league so you get all the logistics, the highs and lows of everything. the league is on its final stretch. everyone is now intense with the semi’s. this past weekend came one of the semi’s that got canceled because of the fear of the referees. colon, my family’s team of choice since their ancestors, thought that the other team paid the refs to screw the whole thing up. for the fear of the referees that a lack of police force to control a riot that could possibly explode if colon had lost, the sunday game was canceled. the refs did get their share. on the way out of the field, with a normal police escort, people we’re yelling and throwing their anger at them. people we’re nervous, frazzled, disappointed, mad. on that day, the whole ambiant of the family changed. i have seemed to appear invincible. not that i needed or wanted the attention, but some background of what's going on and to be inform would have been helpful. it was intense. it took some time to find out what the league is going to do and when and if to reschedule the game. after my family getting tuned to the local radio shows and getting updates from friends and family, the game was rescheduled this past wednesday and colon won the game 3-0. i didn’t see it, but when i got home, everyone was very happy. i was told that there were fights after fights after the game. i could only imagine what happened during it. so another game is ligned up for colon this sunday, and if they win, they’re in to the finals. the whole ordeal is amazing to see, to experience, and feel. my hosts family’s passion for the sport is definitely one thing i’ll miss when i move out of this community.
i must mention the importance of radio here. it’s impressive. almost every town have their own radio stations. people are in tuned to what’s going on around their neighborhood not from the newspaper or tv. it’s the one media by far here, where people’s voice are heard and said. the people control it. it’s like having npr, if not, better, on every community. if you want to know something, if you want to know whats going on, you turn the radio on. if you want to say something to the community, it is there where you say it. people listen to it. it’s no wonder that peace corps volunteers have used it to do some community grassroot work in their sites. it’s smart, it’s simple, and it works.
talking about media, let me just do some plugging. i'm reading this book right now that i found in our training center. the book is written by kalle lash, the founder of adbusters, and is called culture jam. i have come across that magazine and have enjoyed it when I was in the states. i highly recommend it. for the many valid arguements and interesting story in that book, there was one that stood out especially on how radio stations should work. since radio is such a big deal here, that point parallels with how the radio station business works here. Although not all of the radio statios here in paraguay are controlled by the people, there are atleast one, if not many, that are solely for the purpose of serving the people without anything being sold to them other than raw useful informations. i might not be accurate, but based on my observation, paraguayans put a high value on radio when it comes to information gathering.
What else is going on… here’s another, more personal story…
around 4-5 years ago, i was hanging out with a friend of mine at a bar in Richmond virginia and we were discussing about the characteristics of the united states. this is when i just got back from studying and traveling abroad. around that time, i was on my 5-6 years from having lived in the united states. so my boat, i wouldn’t say had just docked. after all those years, i’ve quite made my way into the american society. although, i would say that i was just really starting to break the barriers. i had some questions and my friend provided some answers. so the discussion was around how americans in the us likes criticizing and questioning its own country, its own government, its own people. i thought, at that time, it was crazy because on where i’ve been exposed to, people really don’t do that, for many different reasons... and if they do, they don’t really go further than just simply that. talking about it. so her response was like this, “it is what americans are good at. we question, discuss, argue, and talk about it, so we can do something about it and make a change.” i thought that was brilliant. as simple as that to you, i thought it was like having cracked a code. it was that mild revolution that opened yet another angle in me. if you think that that’s not an accurate statement, i would like to hear a different angle about one of the greatest thing which what the united states is great at. you can call it democracy or something else, but that concept stuck and i took it along with me. that was probably the best thing i took out, other than the many shots of whiskey, tiquila, and beers. to this day, i do believe highly in the ideals of the many people i’ve come across paths with in the country i’ve vowed to support and believe in.
that story came to mind just recently after having a discussion that went sour with a friend here in training. just to share some of my realities having been here, i feel its fair to let it out and let you in… the discussion was this, our mission being here encompasses three things; to bring peace, share american culture with other nations, learn from other nations, bring it back and share it to other americans. after 40 some years of kennedy and his buddies had this vision of a peace corps, i think the mission statement stays true today. although many things have changed in the past and a reconfiguring couldn't hurt it. anyway, i’ll take those 3 goals and take it a little further and share to you an example of what could be an american or a firsts world citizen in a different country. i was making a point, and i was only laying down some observations, facts, and realities, that paraguayans have already a slight advantage on us on our second point in our mission. american culture is not some kind of a secret that everybody else in the world is not aware of. having been the center of attention and having had the spotlight for the world arena to see, it’s really not that difficult to take a peak to the open windows of america. one example was this… i mean if michael jackson is not to and have represented american culture, then i don’t know what princess diana represented being… with all their mistakes, these guys have been hailed and prided by, not only their own countrymen, but especially other nations, for the great things they’ve done, humanitarian and other works alike… the point is that, information wise, flat out in our faces, pop culture or not, we don’t really hear anything about paraguayans or other developing countries everyday in the us. although not only in paraguay, we hear about the united states anywhere around the world. the media in our country as we know everything about that business, if not one of, is the number one export of the united states. another thing is that, when i drop the ball on how many countries the us has flexed its muscles on, drop their bombs, and spread their ideals, its not like these facts are in the top secret or confidential file. it may be a sensitive subject, but pretty much everyone in the world knows about that. It doesn’t take that much to be aware of that. i understand that to state this and to some could be offensive. but i'm not being anti-american here. what i’m saying is that we cant really run around thinking that we are far superior, ignore the other side of the coin, and that everything we do is great. for all I know, im learning here as much as people around me are learning from me. to go even further, my contributions here, as much as i put in, are probably far less than the impact this whole experience will have on me at the end of all of these. what i’m laying down here is my reality and it just happen not to align with somebody else. so that’s where the problem started… no bloods were shed or anything, but it resulted me to write this message. so i picked and lost that battle, but i’m not saying the war is over… maybe it’s just started.
it boils down to this. we can’t really be serious if we, as americans, or any other “firsts” world citizens, are, or wants to be around the world, believing that we are the greatest and baddest mother in this planet and can solve everyone’s problem. even if we can, would or should we really? instead, why not be aware of who we are, our greatest works and mistakes, what we are and aren’t capable and made of, channel it positively, take it further, and make things better not only for ourselves, but especially for everybody. that’s what we’re here for in the first place. i feel that it is our duty and responsilibity. for me, being here is to patch things up, make good with others, and prove that we know and can do better… not to the sense that we are better than others, but to the sense that we, as fortunate and privileged, as much damage has done, can and will continue to do great things even more… people outside of the united states already know plenty of what we lack of. there’s no need to hide that. it would be sad to think that we ourselves are not aware of it and i'm not saying or trying to dwell on it as well. i'm just suggesting not to ignore the fact, just raising awareness to realize our shortcomings. and as much as other people know about that side of what makes the united states, they also know and are aware of our greatest qualities… and to prove those great qualities, while we’re still alive, we should give ourselves a chance, do ourselves a favor and show it.