Friday, September 27, 2013


Hey guys!  I decided that it would be smart to put all of the "Remembering My Peace Corps Service" episodes in one spot, so if you look at the tabs along the top of the page, there is a new tab for the series (or click this link here).  All of the videos will be posted there from now on.  Sometimes I feel like this site gets too cluttered.

I decided to start filming on a regular basis because as my service comes to a close, I have a lot of balls in the air and I really want to have visual documentation of where I lived and what I was doing.  Plus, it's fun and I really enjoy it as a hobby.

The next few weeks for me are really starting to pick up speed.  This weekend I have a VAC meeting in Paraguari, then next week I have a mixer where I will meet the trainee that I've been corresponding with over the last few weeks, then after that I am going to be doing a training for the new group of agriculture volunteers on how to build a bamboo fence, use a machete safely, etc.  With my luck I'll probably chop a toe off during my session, haha. 

I'm really starting to weigh the options on some major life decisions.  When I got here, I knew that I had two full years to think about what I want to do when I get back to the United States, and now I have about two months... it's all starting to get real. 

From now on, blogs may be coming more often in video form.  I feel like people are probably more likely to watch a 3-4 minute video than read a novel that I post here, but we'll see.

Friday, September 13, 2013

August - A month of Spanish

I love giving presentations.  I honestly enjoy getting up in front of a crowd, telling a couple of jokes, sharing what I know, and fielding questions.  I really love it--In English.  Spanish and Guarani are an entirely different story.  I'm going to put this on record here, but I will never-- never ever EVER-- be afraid to speak to anyone in English ever again.

August was one of those months where something is happening every week.  It was probably as close to life in the fast-paced United States as it gets here.  It all started at the beginning of the month with a charla (the spanish word for a talk) on Curvas de Nivel, or contour cropping systems.  Lucky for me I had 2 friends, Elijah and Maggie, who were very willing helpers and came to help with language and organizing.  I won't bore you with too many details of the content of the charla.
Using the A-Frame in my demoplot. -Photo by Elijah Massey

Digging the infiltration trenches. -Photo by Maggie Flinn

 It went fairly well, and I got the lines delineated in my demo plot and later planted it to beans and kumanda yvy'rai (a green manure).  I will be going back in a week or so to plant some sunflowers in the rows in order to demonstrate a possible companion planting combo.

A little later that month, I went up to an ag school in the Chaco'i to help out with G40's In-Service Training.  G40 is the group of ag and environment volunteers that came in a year after my group.  For this training, all participants are asked to bring a Paraguayan counterpart, so yet again, the presentation was in Spanish.  This time it was two 45 minute presentations on seed-saving.  Because of my experience as President of the Seed Bank in the Peace Corps Office, I  could have done an hour and half in English on this topic, no problem.  But alas, that just simply wasn't the case.  I was blessed to have Melanie, the Ag PCV coordinator there to help answer questions.

Finally, at the end of the month, I gave an hour-long charla to my women's committee about using green manures and their benefits.

My Spanish has definitely improved over the 2 year period that I have lived here, but I'm still not big on improvising.  I like to stick to a script.  All in all, it was a good experience and I'm glad to have done it!  Sharing my knowledge of agriculture is a major reason of why I joined the Peace Corps, and I'm happy to be finishing out my service strong.

This is a video demonstration on how to calibrate an A-Frame for a curvas de nivel project.  Later on I will post an instructional video explaining how to use the A-Frame in the field.  Enjoy!

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Beginning of The End

Wow guys.  It's September of 2013.  Two years ago at this time I was completely consumed with selling all of my stuff and packing my life away into the one shelf that my dad lets me use in their basement.  Now, having just completed my COS (Close Of Service) Conference in Ypycarai, I have only three months left of this adventure.

I know it's been a long time since I wrote anything here, but that provides me with the opportunity to approach my writing from a new perspective.  Over the next few weeks, expect regular updates regarding what closing out of Peace Corps service looks like, what I've been up to over the last five or six months, and some introspective thoughts on what I have learned from this rollercoaster of an experience in Paraguay.

I know there's not a whole lot of content in this specific entry, and I apologize for that, but alas I have to catch a bus.  As usual.