Monday, November 22, 2010

An Update on the Goings On

Right after my birdfest I had to shift gears to help with the training of the newest batch of volunteers. These guys are our sister G, meaning they’re the next Environmental/agriculture volunteers and I was where they are a year ago. Crazy. I was called in by my old trainer to come back to Guarambare to tell of my experiences in doing big event days. That’s what my service has been mostly, so far. I’ve done things for Earth Day, Tree Day, Water Day, and the birdfest was a pretty big event. Guess that’s where my expertise lie eh? Since this group of EE trainees is bigger than we were last year I had to do my talk twice, one for the first group and the next afternoon with the other group.
I already knew some of the aspirantes (trainees) since a few visited Lauren and I the weekend before this training session. They came to see what it was like to be a volunteer and shadow us for 3 days. It was a good time, they got to help us with our last bird fest!
So I did that, hosted a trainee and came in for a training session. The next thing I had to concentrate on was Long Field. Long Field is when a bunch of trainees and a language teacher go to a volunteers site for a week to do planned activities and practice being a volunteer. I was asked to host 6 trainees and a language teacher. It was actually pretty tough thinking of things to do every day for a week that wasn’t doing the same thing every day and finding families for them to stay with, fortunately the school helped me with that. I ended up planning as followed:

The first day we went to Jirca, a model farm down the ruta from Carapegua. It was set up and run by Japan but right now it’s totally run by Paraguayans. They have demonstration plots to show farmers how to better use their land and about composting and worm composting. It’s a pretty cool place, unfortunately when we went there wasn’t really anyone to show us around, but I think they got the general idea. Then they had time for some language and to prepare for a charla I had set up for them at my main school.

Day two was the charlas in the morning. 2 ppl went to the 4th grade, 2 to the 5th and 2 to the 6th. I had asked the teachers ahead of time what topics they would like covered so the aspirantes got to work with topics like air pollution, aquatic ecosystems and biodomes. They all did great! That afternoon they went out on interviews I had set up with some community members and had some language training.

Day three we went out to Lauren’s site for an agroforestry day. I had gotten some root stock for them to learn about tree grafting. That’s when you take the roots from one tree (root stock), cut a branch or bud off another tree, cut a slit on the root stock and a point on the branch and tape them together. And walla! With luck you will now have the tree of what the branches were. For example, one type (and the easiest) of grafting is a mango graft. You take the root stock of a Paraguayan mango tree and graft a Brazilian mango tree to it. This is beneficial because the roots will be hardy and used to Paraguay while the fruit will be the big, yummy Brazilian type mango. The Paraguayan mangos are smaller and are full of fiberus strings that make it hard to eat. The other type of grafting is with citrus fruits, it’s much harder and involves taking a bud from one citrus tree and sticking it into the roots and stalk of another citrus plant. This all needs to be done when they are saplings and the percentage of takage (is that a word?) is pretty low. I think only 20% of grafted trees take, so they are pretty expensive to buy. Hopefully the ones we did will take. We went to one of Lauren’s contacts house who has an awesome garden goin on, he was interested in doing grafting and we gave him the trees when we were done. He also showed us his garden and how he was using methods that we learned at our IST back in June! He had loads in it, very good utilization of space and abono (fertilizer). He pulled up a beet from one seed bed that was fertilized the normal Py way and one fertilized the way we learned in IST, the difference was amazing!! The normal fert beet was so small compared to the goliath IST method beet! Wish I had a picture. We also planted some trees at his house. After lunch we headed to Lauren’s school so they could see the end of the year fair that schools put on showing all the work they’ve done that year.

Day four was another charla day at the smaller school I work at. One group did garbage charlas with the 4th, 5th, and 6th graders and the other did games with the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders. Then we learned about the artisan work that is done here in Carapegua (hammocks, blankets, crochet, etc.) at the artisan center close to that school and after we went shopping! That night was a movie night complete with popcorn, watermelon, ice cream, soda and chips.

Day five we went over to the next town, Paraguarí, to meet up with an urban youth volunteer and see a war museum and of course have a yummy lunch at the Tropicana, a place I wish was in my site. Then everyone got on a bus to go back to Guarambare and I went back to Cpeg. I had to get to the small school I work with because I had to plan a camping trip with the kindergardeners and my contact. Phew. We planned for it to be thurs night into fri but things changed and it was moved to tues all day but things changed and it just turned into me going in on tues afternoon and singing environmental songs, coloring and making frog masks. I think they liked it.
But back to Long Field, it’s supposed to show the aspirantes what a week would look like as a volunteer, I don’t know anyone who does all that in one week and it was pretty exhausting. I slept in that Sat and it was wonderful. I forgot what it was like to be in training :p

Now I’m gearing up for Thanksgiving, I will be going down south to Encarnación for the weekend with most of the other volunteers. Apparently this happens every year, we rent a hotel and cook and swim and have a jolly good time. I’m looking forward to it. I’ve heard talk that there will even be pumpkin pie…
So that’s what’s been going on. I’m happy now because its watermelon season and we have so far eaten seven watermelons (yes we’re counting) since they first arrived in site 3 weeks ago. So good.