Friday, December 31, 2010

I am suerte

My site is fantastic. I am about to finnish up my third week there. Its not easy, but I knew it wouldn't be, right?
Im living with a different host family every two weeks. So last Monday I moved from my first host family (who had two TVs and internet) to a new family (that has one electrical out let for the whole house, a latrine, a bucket to bath with, and a bed I share with the 10 year old granddaughter). It just goes to show that even with in one community there can be widely diverse living situations. I really life my second host family. Yesterday I ended up teaching a impromptu English class complete with a little blackboard and everything. Latter that evening, me and my 10 year old host sister lay in bed each studying. She studied English, while I studied Guarani. It was adorable.
My main goal in these first few months in community integration. How can I convince people to do intercropping and abonos verdes, if they dont know who I am and if they can trust me? So, I wake up early each morning before it gets unbearably hot, and I go visit a new family. I just sort of show up outside there house and clap loudly (its kind of like knocking). Usually the senora is at home and we all sit down to drink delicious, delicious terere and talk about the weather and how hopefully I will learn some Guarani. People are incredibly patient and usually I usually know enough Spanish and they know enough Spanish that we manage to get the gist of the conversation.
After a good long terere setion, I go back to my host family and eat lunch (consisting of an unknown part of the cow) and attempt to nap in the horrendous heat of midday.
After my nap I either go and visit another family, or stay and hope and study Guarani or agro. technical information. Some days are definitely a lot more productive than others.
I have found that although my language skills in Spanish and especially in Guarani are lacking, I am ahead of the game in awkwardly house calling complete strangers. So much of my job with AFSCME was house calling people and getting them to tell me about their work life, that I find its fairly easy to do the same thing here. I just trip over the language while Im doing it. I have been able to give a few helpful (I hope) tips to my peers as well. But it take people a while to learn that you cant just bluntly ask people "what do you want me to do for you?" or "why dont you use abonos verdes on your fields?" You have to have a discussion and eventually these things come out much more naturally. Eventually people start taking about how the soil is tired and drained of nutrients, and how one of their neighbor plans beans in between his corn- Thus the chance for a discussion about abonos verdes. But even though we were taught in training about the need for a discussion in stead of direct questions for change right off the bat, it is hard for many people take the time that is necessary.
Im not saying that I house call perfectly, but I finally understand why the Peace Corps accepted be despite the complete lack of language and agricultural training.

I picked up some letters in the office today! Thank you so much!
Happy New Years everyone!