Wednesday, June 1, 2011

What a Difference a Year Makes

It is amazing what a difference a year makes! We just finished a campaign, "Basta al Abuso Infantil" (Stop Child Abuse). My contact Juan and I, when we planned this project last year, were completely stressed and exhausted for the weeks leading up to the event. The whole idea of an "Awareness Walk" was just weird to everyone, including us, and we had to make up the rules as we went.

This year, we found an NGO working toward the same goal and teamed up with them to plan simultaneous walks in 4 major Paraguayan cities. It was actually a week-long campaign which included a series of talks - we taught psychology students from a local college to give talks to parents on how to teach children without violence, and the parents all raved about how helpful it was. The week ended with a Walk. 300 kids and adults walked from CCAB, my NGO, down the main road through the city to a plaza downtown where we had a fair with clowns, facepaint, balloon animals, a bouncy castle, art performances and prizes. There were signs and bandanas and music, and we gave out pamphlets about how to prevent and avoid child abuse. We were in newspapers and on TV. It was probably even better than last year´s walk, and it was so easy! Going around to ask for donations, people remembered CCAB, remembered the walk from last year, knew us. Before that, CCAB had been doing good things for 24 years and nobody knew who they were.

Below are some pics and there are more on facebook.

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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.