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Agriculture Extension and Beekeeping
The Peace Corps has been working in Paraguay since 1967, and is one of the oldest continuously operating Peace Corps posts in the world. The first Volunteers arrived in country in 1967 to work in agriculture extension in rural areas, and programs were soon established to work in the health and education sectors as well.
Nearly 3,000 Peace Corps Volunteers have served in Paraguay since 1967, and about 90 Volunteers arrive each year. Today, approximately 200 Volunteers are working in the six major sectors of agriculture, education, environment, health, small business development, and urban youth development.
Peace Corps Volunteers have always been warmly welcomed throughout Paraguay. Contributing to this receptivity are the efforts that Peace Corps/Paraguay has made to foster cultural sensitivity in its Volunteers, to place them directly in the communities to live at the level of the people with whom they work, and to stress the importance of communication in the indigenous language, Guaraní, as well as Spanish.
Peace Corps History
Main article: History of the Peace Corps in Paraguay
The Peace Corps has been working in Paraguay since 1967, and the country is one of the oldest continuously operating posts in the Peace Corps. After the government of Paraguay and the Peace Corps signed a joint agreement on November 4, 1966, the first Volunteers arrived in 1967 to work in agricultural extension in rural areas. Before long, projects were also established in the health and education sectors. Nearly 3,000 Peace Corps Volunteers have served in Paraguay since 1967, and more than 39 years later, an average of 90 Volunteers arrive each year. Today, approximately 200 Volunteers are working in the six major sectors of agriculture, education, environment, health, small business development, and urban youth development. Many former Paraguay Volunteers continue to stay informed about the country’s affairs and assist in development efforts in the country—years after they completed their service. At the same time, returned Volunteers have contributed a great deal to increasing the knowledge and appreciation of Paraguay and its people by Americans.
Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyle
Main article: Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyles in Paraguay
Most Volunteers live and work in rural areas, but more are being assigned to work in urban centers in response to the recent increase in urban migration. The latest census shows that more than half of the population lives in larger towns or cities. Your Volunteer assignment description should indicate whether your project site is likely to be urban or rural. All Volunteers spend some time in Asunción because it is the location of the Peace Corps office, as well as the site of conferences and some in-service trainings.
About 80 percent of Volunteers live in small towns or villages with fewer than 5,000 people, and some of these campo (countryside) sites have fewer than 200 inhabitants. Most (but not all) have electricity, as the country has increased the availability of electricity from 24 percent of Paraguay’s 3 million people in 1978 to more than 60 percent of the current population of about 5.8 million. Generally, streets in the campo towns are unpaved, and there is no running water or indoor toilets. Few people in these towns have traveled outside Paraguay, and many have never even been to Asunción. The only people with cars are likely to be the doctor, the priest, and a few businesspeople, government officials, and ranchers. Horses, motorcycles, and oxcarts make up the majority of local traffic, while children play freely alongside roaming cows, pigs, and chickens.
For both rural and urban Volunteers, housing in Paraguay is basic. All Volunteers are required to live with a Paraguayan family during their initial two months of service. Some Volunteers then choose to live alone in one- or two-room wood or brick homes; others choose to live with a Paraguayan family for their entire two years of service. Peace Corps/ Paraguay strongly recommends that Volunteers, especially single women, consider this option. Living with a family not only helps with community integration, but also decreases personal security risks. If you choose to live with a family, the furniture will be adequate and functional, but probably not overly comfortable. If you choose to live on your own, you will likely need to furnish the place yourself.
Volunteers who live in the capital or other large cities will have easier access to services such as running water, electricity, telephones, public transportation, and the Internet. They will also find many of the same shopping and entertainment amenities found in similar-size cities in the United States.
Main article: Training in Paraguay
Peace Corps/Paraguay’s pre-service training consists of 11 weeks of intensive in-country training in five major areas: language (Spanish and Guaraní), community development and personal adaptation, technical job orientation, Volunteer safety and security, and health. By the end of training, each trainee has to pass qualifying criteria in each of these areas to be sworn in as a Peace Corps Volunteer.
The training center is located in the town of Guarambaré, which is approximately one hour by bus from the capital, Asunción. Trainees also make visits to Volunteer sites to begin preparing for the realities of life in Paraguay. After eight weeks, trainees spend a week at the site to which they will be permanently assigned.
Trainees live with a Paraguayan family during the entire training period, sharing meals, conversation, and other experiences. The families live in small satellite communities within a few kilometers of Guarambaré, whose residents are from the lower-income to middle-income strata of Paraguayan society. Trainees spend most of their time in language classes at their satellite training facility. Technical, cultural, and community development studies are combined with practice of new skills at the community level, often in cooperation with nearby schools, organizations, and community groups. Combining formal classroom study with ample opportunity for practicing a new language and cultural and technical skills has proved to be an extremely effective way of preparing Volunteers to work as independent professionals during their service.
Throughout training, you will be encouraged to continue examining your personal motivation for serving in the Peace Corps and your level of dedication and commitment. By the time you are sworn in as a Volunteer, you should have made an informed and serious commitment that will sustain you through a full two years of service.
Health Care and Safety
Main article: Health Care and Safety in Paraguay
The Peace Corps’ highest priority is maintaining the health and safety of every Volunteer. Peace Corps medical programs emphasize the preventive, rather than the curative, approach to disease. The Peace Corps in Paraguay maintains a clinic that is staffed full time by a physician and a registered nurse, who take care of Volunteers’ primary healthcare needs. Additional medical services, such as testing and basic treatment, are also available in Paraguay at local, American-standard hospitals. If you become seriously ill or have a condition that cannot be handled adequately in-country, you will be medically evacuated to either Panama or the United States for treatment.
Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues
Main article: Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues in Paraguay
In Paraguay, as in other Peace Corps host countries, Volunteers’ behavior, lifestyles, background, and beliefs are judged in a cultural context very different from their own. Certain personal perspectives commonly accepted in the United States may be quite uncommon, unacceptable, or even repressed in Paraguay.
Outside of Paraguay’s capital, residents of rural communities have had relatively little exposure to other cultures, races, religions, and lifestyles. What people view as typical norteamericano behavior or norms may be a misconception, such as the belief that all Americans are rich and have blond hair and blue eyes. The people of Paraguay are justly known for their generous hospitality to foreigners; however, members of the community in which you will live may display a range of reactions to cultural differences that you present.
- Possible Issues for Female Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color
- Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers
- Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Volunteers with Disabilities
Frequently Asked Questions
Main article: FAQs about Peace Corps in Paraguay
- How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Paraguay?
- What is the electric current in Paraguay?
- How much money should I bring?
- When can I take vacation and have people visit me?
- Will my belongings be covered by insurance?
- Do I need an international driver’s license?
- What should I bring as gifts for Paraguayan friends and my host family?
- Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be?
- How can my family contact me in an emergency?
- Can I call home from Paraguay?
- Should I bring a cellular phone with me?
- Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?
- How can people send items to me in Paraguay?
Main article: Packing List for Paraguay
This list has been compiled by Volunteers serving in Paraguay and is based on their experience. Use it as an informal guide in making your own list, bearing in mind that every experience is unique. There is no perfect list! You obviously cannot bring everything we mention, so consider those items that make the most sense to you personally and professionally. As you decide what to bring, keep in mind that you have a 23 kilo, or 50 pound, weight restriction per bag, and a 2 bag limit. And remember, you can get almost everything you need in Paraguay. There are modern shopping malls in Asunción. Most small appliances, such as blow dryers and CD players/radio, are available. Clothes can be purchased or made for a modest price, and thrift stores offer used American clothing.
- General Clothing
- For Women
- For Men
- Personal Hygiene and Toiletry Items
Peace Corps News
- Brandeis among Peace Corps' top volunteer-producing schools - Wicked Local (Feb 26)
- The Privilege of Doing Development Work: Voluntourism and Its Limitations - Huffington Post (Feb 24)
- 'Campus Food Security Tour' Makes Stop at MSU - (multiple names) (Feb 19)
- University rises in Peace Corps ranking - Daily Illini (Feb 19)
- Wesleyan among Peace Corps' top volunteer-producing universities - Middletown Press (Feb 17)
PEACE CORPS JOURNALS
( As of Monday March 17, 2014 )
Contributions to the Paraguay Country Fund will support Volunteer and community projects that will take place in Paraguay. These projects include water and sanitation, agricultural development, and youth programs.