Saturday, February 16, 2013

watercolor evenings

It's a glowing evening here in Paraguay, even in my noisy, ugly neighborhood. There are a lot of ways in which Paraguay does not measure up very well, but the quiet evenings, in vast lush country, with spectacular sunsets, is one area in which Paraguay excels.

I'm doing very well in site since the New Year. It's so much better than it was, I'd rather not even think about last year.

I've been teaching a little remedial reading class for elementary schoolers on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the library and teaching English classes there for youth those afternoons. While the goal of the reading class is to help these kids out, the English class is really just a sneaky way for me to get warm bodies into the library. It's been successful in that and it's also been pretty fun to get to know the youths.
The municipality has suddenly and spectacularly sprung into action this month, after four months of inaction (they receive a big chunk of money annually from the hydroelectric dams around the New Year I think). They finally fixed the voltage issues that had prevented us using any of our computers and they paid to build a really nice porch and extended roof in the back part of the library. The roof extension was necessary because the whole place would turn into a big puddle every time it rained from water would runs under the back-double-doors.

English class in the library
Most importantly the municipality finally decided to hire a new librarian. Carolina is smart, competent and enthusiastic. I can't stress enough how awesome this is. This is sort of enterprise that can only work if you'e got the right person, and the previous person was not it. I'm suddenly at ease about the future of the library and proud of what it's become in the last 9 months since it's been open. It feels like my whole two years of service working with libraries in Paraguay are validated all of a sudden.

It's so much more fun to work with Carolina and to teach my classes that I was shocked yesterday when I went to visit the school I'd been in last spring. The overwhelming indifference I encountered was so familiar from last year; my soul winced at that memory.

I am so proud of the library. I can't take credit for it all, but I was behind much of the establishment of the space and how it feels. And I find it so satisfying now. The experience has reminded me a lot of working with the student co-op in college. The co-op was ostensibly a coffee shop, but it's most important function was to serve as a comfortable student-controlled space on campus. Relying on student volunteers meant there was a lot of dysfunction, and attempting to work with the college administration meant there was always plenty of misunderstanding and opaque bureaucracy, but I really loved putting in the menial hours tinkering to make it a special place.

In my last three months as a volunteer I've got lot of exciting things I'd like to get done. If they don't all come through, so be it, but I'm trying to give a Diagnostic Testing workshop to area teachers, possibly give a didactic materials workshop at the school I worked at last year, do another 6-week English class, paint a world map on the back wall at the library, receive the box of books sent to the library by Darien Book Aid, visit the little schools a few km from town to give a quick one-day all-out didactic materials/book reading/interactive lessons demonstration, complete all my PC and grant related paperwork, , take more pictures in Asuncion, take Carolina to the National Peace Corps Libraries workshop in May, visit Nueva Germania, Quiindy (cousin Bryan's old site), Benito in Ayolas, sell/divest my stuff, and figure out where I'm going next and what I'm bringing with me.

And I love summer! And just how great it all feels to be in a period of change and newness again!
My bike is severely messed up so I haven't been enjoying my occasional rejuvenating rides in the surrounding countryside, but I've been feeling the mythic rolling fields closer in than before. I can sense them even from my house, which recently seemed to be so visually and acoustically foul. I'm so glad I didn't go home early, that I waited it out and that things have now come together so well and so unexpectedly.

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