Thursday, June 23, 2011


A while ago now, I spent one of the best Saturdays in Asuncion. My Spanish teacher, Maria Elena, invited me, Jesse, Danielle and her fiance Kagan to their house for an asado. Jesse, unfortunately, had a basketball game that day so he could go, so Danielle, Kagan, and I took the 18 bus out to the Jardin Botanico where Maria Elena came to pick us up to take her to her house. We had a wonderful time, just sitting, talking, and eating. Their yard made me incredibly jealous, as there were lemon, lime, orange, mandarin, grapefruit, mango, and papaya trees. The fresh squeezed mandarin juice was amazing! It was a simple afternoon, but one spent in a great, Paraguayan way. We hung out with Maria Elena, her parents, her husband, and her son, and really got to get to know some great people.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Tierra Nuestra

For the last two days, I went on an overnight trip with my fifth graders to an estancia (ranch) called Mamborei, which is about two and a half hours outside of Asuncion. The goal of the trip is team building and nature appreciation. The group that runs the activities is called Tierra Nuestra, which means our earth. They do team building activities for schools that can afford it to fund their other environmental programs in poorer neighborhoods and schools. The group was great, and my students really enjoyed their time. The highlight of the trip is the campfire and the night games, which include two Guarani myths, the Pora and the Pombero. Both are spirits that cause bad things to happen. The Pora is a white spirit, that will capture those who are alone at night; the Pombero is a spirit that does naughty things, like lift women's skirts or steal babies. During the night games, the students tried to stay away from the Pora while catching the Pombero.

I didn't take any pictures this year, but I did with last year's group, so here's the link

Some of the activities were different this year than last year: the students tie-dyed shirts, tried passing water balloons without they breaking using tarps, made campfire skits. My personal favorite activity from both years is the nature hike where the students learn about the native plants and animals of Paraguay. It never fails to surprise me how little the students know about their own country.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Centro Educativo Mbaracayu

Last Thursday through Saturday a group of girls from the Centro Educativo Mbaracayu visited our school and enjoyed a visit to Asuncion. The girls live in a forest reserve in Southeastern Paraguay and come from extremely poor families. They attend an all girls school founded to give the girls a chance at an education that they would never have otherwise in hopes that they will avoid getting pregnant while very young and eventually raise a family and pass on their education to all of their kids. The school was founded and is funded by someone with ties to the ASA community and our school has decided to take a role in helping the school succeed (at least I hope this is the goal). The girls gave us presentations to describe where they live and their schools and attended the science fair that our 10-12th graders put on at school on Friday as well as staying with host families of students and teachers during their trip. They were extremely polite and very willing to talk about their school once approached and I hope they enjoyed their experience and trip. The video below is a preview of a documentary made about their school and definitely merits a look.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Bicentenario Downtown Celebration

On May 14th, the night before the official independence day, the downtown area was completely filled with people celebrating together. Many government buildings were lit up for the festivities and were absolutely beautiful. Different stages were set up in the various plazas where music was being played or demonstrations of Paraguayan crafts, and even a light/video show on the Presidential palace. Here are some of my favorite pictures from the night.

The harp is one of Paraguay's traditional instruments. This was a beautiful concert of harp students from a local music school.

If you can't tell what is happening in the above picture, she has at least 8 bottles stacked up on her head. This was one of the demonstrations I mentioned earlier.
After spending some time downtown, we went to a rooftop bar to enjoy the night. There was a nice surprise at midnight, when a beautiful fireworks show started and we got to see it all!