The Conductores Culturales held their second Estación Abierta (Open Station) at the train station in Paraguari on Saturday, June 8th. It was a great success, drawing over 150 visitors and lots of national press!
A musical group from Asuncion, 28 Dias!, found out what the youth were doing and contacted us to play a show and to pay for all of the sound equipment for the event! My amazing designer friend Amy helped a ton with the promotion, designing great flyers that found their way to a reporter in Asuncion from the national newspaper La Nación. La Nación sent a journalist and photographer to cover the story of the first live chess game ever played in Paraguay!
As one would expect, the showdown was between a nine year old and a mime. Nine year old triumphant.
Big thanks are in order for Stephanie for facilitating the whole chess game, but most importantly for teaching Juan (the nine year old) how to play chess; Vicky for all of her help painting and prepping; and all of the other volunteers and staff who came out to support the event that day!
Lots of continued gratitude to all of the people who supported 30 Days of Trains! and donated to the Peace Corps Partnership Grant. Your dollars have helped fund the training and stipends of the youth leaders, allowing them to put on community events and complete projects like designing and creating all of the live chess pieces (Designed by Conductor Cultural Nestor Melgarejo). They’ve also funded the purchase of chairs, a bathroom door, paint and bookshelves!
At a meeting the other day my youth were lamenting the fact that people all over the world and in other parts of the country, especially Asuncion, have gotten really excited about their project, but they feel like they’re not getting as much support from their own communities, neighbors and families.
While what they are doing is new, and therefore not entirely understood or accepted by Paraguari, I assured them that they were laying a foundation for the future and slowly, but surely more people would start supporting and showing up to their events.
I knocked on wood when they weren’t looking.
But, when I reflect on what they’ve already accomplished since they finished their training on March 24, 2013, it’s incredible! Soon we’re going to be looking for local funding for another edition of the project, so we made an infographic to illustrate lots of our successes so far (with the help of the new Peace Corps trainee Miriam, thank you!)
Achievements of the Cultural Conductors since March 2013-
8 young people received 25 hours of training, 2 community fairs called Open Stations bringing more than 300 visitors and collaboration with 11 community groups, the donation of more than 150 books (and other things) from Darien Book Aid, Paraguay Reads and a high school in Deleware. Stories published in 3 national Paraguayan newspapers about the project. The first game of live chess in Paraguay played. The creation of a Facebook page that now has 344 followers, reaching 4936 with our single most popular post and 7982 unique page visits during the month of June. One youth theater club. The creation of the historic tour of the train station and collaboration with more than 14 other Peace Corps volunteers.
For a rookie’s attempt it’s not half bad. I hope that they continue to find support for the project from their community long after I’m gone.
For more pictures from the second Estación Abierta: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.571900619499847.1073741839.543046729051903&type=1&l=ef35d83ce5