Saturday, January 24, 2009

Rural Economic Development?

It has recently been brought to my attention that Rural Economic Development is not a phrase often used around here, and some may be wondering, "What exactly does rural economic development entail?" (thanks Jessy McCaughey).  Well, not that I'm an expert or anything myself, but what I've learned from my Peace Corps invitation packet is that the Peace Corps started this program in Paraguay in 1999, and that I'll be working in a small village at a Co-op headquarters that will probably already be set up.  The farmers in Paraguay have tended to just grow cotton as a cash crop, but that means they're vulnerable to weather, low prices, pests, diseases, etc, and because all their eggs are in one basket, their incomes have deteriorated.  I'll be working on encouraging more diversification (for both sale and personal use), increasing co-op participation in educational activities, increase profits through group marketing, reducing costs by improving product quality and making use of local and regional markets, and  improving packaging, processing and pricing to add value.   It's a business program, so my overall goal is to increase the amount and quality of services provided by the co-op through improved financial planning, administration, organization, education, and control techniques.  My training is apparently going to teach me a lot of this, and then I'll also do other research and talk to people about what's been done in the past in order to figure out the rest.  
About life there:  I'll have a bike to get around, electricity but no plumbing, phone but no cell phone, no internet in my village but in the city, no heat or AC, will be the only PC volunteer in my village but may be able to work with other volunteers in other nearby villages on certain projects.  Apparently everything moves VERY slowly there, which will be a personal challenge for me and my current impatience, but I'm up for it.   They dress in business casual attire for work and women never leave the house without a bra (no longer wearing a bra was actually the part I was most looking forward to with this whole project, but I'll survive).  I'll live with a family for the first 2 months to get integrated into the community, and then be able to rent a little place of my own.  

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so, so much for the explanation! I've been trying to log onto this blog for a week from my work computer and it wouldn't work, so I'm thrilled that I just realized it worked from home! This sounds incredible, and like they're really paid attention to your skills/background in marketing in business--really interesting. Did I miss it, or did you not mention the name of the village? I'm just curious. I'm so damn excited for you. Holy crap.

    PS - I'm officially "following you," via blog technology. Stalkerish, some might say . . .



Chuchi - this is probably my new most popular word. It means snobby or fancy, but is used in the Peace Corps as anything nicer than dirt roads and shacks, or for a person, anyone who showers with hot water. Living in the city, I am super chuchi for here.

Fuerte - literally means strong, but because the culture is based on talking around everything, it´s when a person says anything they want in a direct way - it means asshole

Puede ser and otro dia - literally means "could be" or "another day", but because noone will directly blow someone off, both of them mean "never" and are the answer to a question of when something will happen

Deseas, en tus sueños, Que Arriba Perra/o and Es lo qué es - these are the terrible translations of American sayings that are not used here and don´t really translate, but we say them anyway. Literally they mean "you wish", "in your dreams", "What´s up bitch/dog?" and "it is what it is"

Qué guapa - this means "what a hard worker" and is used by Paraguayans every time I do ANYTHING manual, including carrying a dish to the sink or sweeping out my room. I don´t think they have high expectations for Americans and work.

Saludos - sending saludos by way of a mutual friend is how people tell each other they have a crush on them. The most serious kinds are given with a pinch on the arm and they mean business.

Thumbs up - this is done everywhere here and is a simple answer to pretty much any question. I will probably have carpal tunel in my thumbs when I leave here because I do this so much.

No se como comer esta - this is how one refuses food in Paraguay. Literally, it´s "I don´t know how to eat this" which creates an internal struggle for me each time it´s said because I want to be a smartass and explain that, just like any other food, you put in in your mouth and chew, but I don´t think that´s acceptable here.

No Más and Un poco - this is said after almost every phrase for no real reason other than to make everything sound like it´s not a big deal, even when it really is. Literally, it´s "No More" and "A Little", so the translations are something like "Sit down no more", "Come here a little", and "Do you want dinner no more?"

Cocido - this is a hot drink mixed by carmellizing sugar with a little yerba, adding just enough water to wet it, and then adding more sugar. It´s served by the thermos-full just before bed.

Mosto - this is to sugar what crack is to cocaine. It´s a "tradional" drink capable of putting even the sweetest tooth into a diabetic coma, and is served continuously at fun gatherings like funerals.

Ch-ch-ch-ch - this is the sound Paraguayans make to get each others´attention - like "Psst" . It´s especially used for catcalling, and they have nothing to follow it with - they just want you to look.