Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Festival de Aves

   My bird festival has officially begun as of Monday the 13th! What is a bird fest you ask? It is a day (or many days) to heighten awareness of the birdies (aves). And why? Because birds are a terrific indicator species of how healthy a habitat is. Having a diverse bird population demonstrates that there is a diverse ecosystem afoot. Why is biodiversity important? Because daily, we humans use 40,000 plants, animals, fungus and microbes to make our stuff with. Stuff like medicine, food, and combustibles. When we destroy habitats, we destroy the diversity that we need to survive.

Didja like that? I just snuck in part of my charla (lecture)into this blog. Here in Py, October is a big bird month because of migration. Many birds either pass through or come to Paraguay from up north for the summer here. Paraguay has 708 different species of birds in it and 30% (212) of those birds are migratory. So we here at Cuerpo de Paz team up with Guyra Paraguay to help bring about awareness to Paraguayans about the importance of birds, habitat and biodiversity.

Guyra Paraguay (pronounced goorah, means bird in Guarani) is the Paraguayan offshoot of the Birdlife organization that is dedicated to saving birds around the world, in America it's the Audubon society.
So what have I been doing then? A few volunteers ago some money was donated from one of the volunteers friends and family in the states to do a sweet birdfest near Carapegua. With that money the volunteer was able to get some snacks, rent a bus and take school kids out to a reserve nearby that is a known hotspot for migratory birds. There he played games and they went on a birdwalk complete with binoculars lent by Guyra and a guide from the park. There was plenty of money left over so the next volunteer in the area (the person whom I'm following up) was able to use the money to have another bird fest in the same place. And still there was money left over and they were able to do another bird fest in the same place the next year. Now I'm here.. and there is still money left over for me to use. Que suerte! (what luck). Albeit it's only a small sum compared to what was available for the other bird fests but that's ok.

What I plan/have planned to do:
1.Charlas in the school. I was told the other years prep work in the school was very little, to the kids it was a day of fun games but not much lesson behind them. So me and my guapo (hard working) PCV neighbors Lauren and Andrew, who have come on board to help, me all sat down and decided what was the best for the kids to learn. We came up with Biodiversity, Extinction, PY bird facts and Migration. It seems the teachers don't really know much about it either so it's a good opportunity for them as well. To interested teachers I have been giving a copy of our charla so they can use it again.

2. We're getting a lot of support from Guyra. They will provide binoculars and a bird costume for the game day. They have given me books, stickers and bird watching guides as well to use and donate to the school when we're done.

3. Bird masks. I have a book full of bird masks that the kids can color and cut out and wear for our game day.

4. A game day and bird walk day. We're going to stick around the city because I don't have the funds to bring them out to the reserve, but it's fine because they can see the birds that live right in their backyard. We're doing this with 4 different schools.

5. Plays and drawings of birds so we can have an exhibition day.

6. Maaaybe paint a mural on one of the schools walls about biodiversity.

Andrew teachin that biodiversidad!
7. I bought reusable plastic cups and I'm going to have stickers printed out to put on them that I will give each kid as a gift and to teach them about reusing.

So far it's gone well, we've completed the charla in one school (the biggest one) with the 4th, 5th and 6th grades (173 students). Thank goodness for Lauren and Andrew's help!

Before wrapping this up I would like to share 2 things that stood out from giving my charlas...
Lauren, Andrew and the 6th grade class pretending to be super aves
#1 I taught the morning 4th grade class on my own and then in the afternoon lauren was there to help me, thank goodness because the afternoon class is much more rambunctious than the morning. Afterwords I said to the teacher the difference between the two classes is amazing and she said yes, the biodiversity. Hehe! Yay new word learned!

The kids pretending to be cold during the winter! Gotta fly south!
#2 Lauren and I were right at the end about to finish the charla when a man walked into the class, I thought he was there to give something to the teacher...boy did I get a shock when instead of going over to her desk he stood right in front of us and started selling stickers to the kids!!!! Who does that?! Strait up interrupts us, stands in front of us and just starts selling s*%t?! We were so in shock, and the kids ran up to him to buy some so we had to wait till he was done. Absolutely amazing. So RUUUUUDE! And the teachers didn't even do anything! I'll be ready next time.

Anywho, I'll keep updating how it goes!!
√Ďanday Parrot. Prob caught in the wild and they will prob stay in cages this small for the rest of their lives. This is why we need to educate the people!!
Cardenal's in the back cage. Different from ours, only the head is red. I was told they aren't many left. Both these birds were for sale at the mercado in asuncion
Lauren, Andrew and I work space while we were making the charla