Friday, December 2, 2011

Love is Sopa Paraguaya

Today was on its way to being a bad day. I stopped by a neighbors house and told him that the English class (that had been canceled last Wednesday due to a freak windstorm) was rescheduled for today at 4. I had been telling people in the community the rescheduled time sense Wednesday evening after the windstorm. Finally, this neighbor told me “you can’t have class today. Esquella San Jose is having their graduation this afternoon. No one will come to your class.”

Despite the fact that I had told several families about the class, no one had mentioned that it conflicted with this important community wide event. No one even told me the event was going to happen. I had several people say “yes. Ill be there” when clearly they wouldn’t be able to.

This happens frequently. People don’t want to disappoint or be rude by saying they can’t come (or they don’t understand a word I’m saying)… but that doesn’t mean there are going to show up. Honestly they same thing happened when I did turn-out for events in the States. However in the States I was able to culturally and linguistically interpret the responses better and fairly accurately gauge how likely someone was to turn up. In Paraguay, not only is it more difficult to interpret the responses people give me, but I’m also ignorant of important community events that could influence attendance.

Anyway, I thanked this neighbor for telling me and told him that the class was NOW rescheduled to Monday. I walked home incredibly frustrated and angry. Sometimes things just build up, and today was one of those days. No one in the community respects me. No one even bothered to invite me to the graduation. No one wants to be involved in the things I do. Why oh why is life so hard? I was emotionally over reacting to the whole thing.

Shortly thereafter, I decided go ahead and go to the graduation that was causing all the trouble.

It was great. The families were proud and the kids were excited. The children preformed traditional Paraguayan dances. Afterwards as the families split up into groups at various tables, a señora brought be a paper plate of food. Moments latter, another señora another plate…. By the end I had five or six separate plates of empanadas, sopa Paraguaya, and mellinasa.

It made me feel better about everything. My community cares about me. I’m awkward, I’m ignorant of things everyone knows about (and so no one thinks to tell me), I’m constantly doing strange things. But people are happy I’m here, and they want me to know that by giving me more sopa Paraguay than I can possibly eat.

I left the graduation with my heart (and my bag of food) overflowing.

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