Earlier today I hiked up a big hill/little mountain in the city of Yaguaron with a group of friends and fellow volunteers.
One of them asked, “But, what’s so special about trains?”
“Well, they’re interesting and people like them…actually, Paraguayans love them. It’s a source of national pride. A snapshot of another time…” Another volunteer and I went back and forth defending our trains (she also has a train station in her community).
“Yeah, but I mean still…why trains? And 30 days of trains, do people really want to hear about it?”
Maybe you’re in the same boat and another day, another blog post is just another reason not to support this project. But! I’m going to keep writing (even including the extra hurdle that my computer took a fatal tumble earlier today and I will be without steady computer/internet access for an undetermined amount of time).
Maybe trains aren’t your thing, so trains aside, the train station is a public space in Paraguari that can be utilized for the public good. There are currently no community or cultural centers in Paraguari. There are currently no libraries that are used for reading. The most important part of this project is what needs to happen in the space of the train station. Coincidentally, it just happens to be a train station.
Although, I couldn’t think of a better space than the train station. What once was used as a place to encounter friends, family, and visitors, where people awaited news from Asuncion and the world, and where people listened for the chug of the steam trains as the signal that new travelers and new stories were about to roll through town, is being re-imagined as a modern space that will continue to do all of these things. It will also work to preserve the stories of common Paraguayans, beginning with stories associated with the train.
And if all of that’s not enough, the train station of Paraguari is nestled into the foot of a big hill/little mountain and when the moon is full and the breeze is just right the place still feels pretty magical.
Help make the magic happen! https://donate.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=donate.contribute.projDetail&projdesc=13-526-009