Just like Pinocchio, we never felt quite “real” during training. We were always referred to as aspirantes (trainees), shepherded around the country on a strict schedule, and were always preparing for the future.
Now we can happily exclaim, “I’m a real
boy volunteer now!” After starting the application process in November 2010, it feels great to finally be doing the real deal. We completed 10 weeks of training; passed our language interviews in both Spanish and Guaraní; and scored adequately enough on our written medical exam, safety and security exam, and technical exam.
To celebrate this feat, training group G-39 got all dolled up and had a nice graduation ceremony at the local municipality building. Nearly all our host parents were in attendance along with our language teachers, technical trainers, and some staff from both the training center and the head office in Asunción.
The U.S. Ambassador was even present to give a short speech in Spanish and although he joked that we all have likely learned more of the language than he, he was in good spirits and willing to pose for plenty of photos after the event, like this one with our host parents and us.
But my favorite part of the swearing-in ceremony was when our chosen representative, Aleks, spoke on behalf of G-39. She was poised and charming and both the Spanish and Guaraní rolled off her tongue like sweet honey. We even made the local newspaper with this article and photo!
After some snacks and heartfelt goodbyes to our host families, we headed to Asunción for the weekend. Once there we completed odds and ends at the main office, attended informational meetings about groups and committees we can now work with within the Peace Corps Paraguay network, and attended Ahendu–a talent show type concert put on by PC volunteers and is the word for “I listen” in Guaraní. In general, we spent the last few days living it up with all the other volunteers who traveled in to be part of the fun.
It was a great weekend of eating delicious food, getting to know some of the current volunteers (there are over 200 of us here in Paraguay!), and having some final moments with our training group before we all headed out to our own sites. At the very least, we’ll reconnect as G-39 in 3 months during our next check-in / training.
Now Isaiah and I are settling into our new town and are still impressed to wake up to a day not planned out for us minute-by-minute. So we’ve walked around, helped out at the children’s soup kitchen, and chatted with those we met on our visit a few weeks ago. It’s exciting to dream of the possibilities of our service here and nice to already recognize many faces as we begin to integrate into Yuty.