Tag Archives: community center

Grand Finale of 30 Days of Trains!

22 Feb

Cue fireworks.

Can you believe we finished the 30 Days of Trains! Blogging Challenge?  Me either.

Read a recap about guest bloggers, page visits and money raised here: https://mollymeg.wordpress.com/2013/02/20/day-28/

I plan to keep writing about the Train Station Community Center project on my blog to keep people updated, I just won’t be doing daily entries.

While 30 Days of Trains! is complete, my fund raising goal is not.  We still need to raise $765 more dollars in order to close out the grant, get to work on the train station, and for me to have access to the list of all the kind souls who donated.

What does this mean?  I can only assume that every single person I’ve ever met between my birth and age 24 has already made a donation to the project because of all of the requests I made. So, most likely the remaining donations will need to come from people I don’t know.

Can you help me out?  Spread the word to people who you think would be interested in the project!

And to really go out with style and a bang tell them that if they make donations today or tomorrow (February 22 or 23, 2013):

-With a donation of $30 dollars or more to the Train Station Community Center in Paraguari, Paraguay you will receive a personalized Thank You video from the Conductors of Culture team that your donation is supporting

-With a donation of $130 dollars or more to the Train Station Community Center in Paraguari, Paraguay we will send you a LIMITED EDITION Conductors of Culture t-shirt to the United States.  The very t-shirt that the team will wear while inspiring Paraguayan youth and working at the train station.  We’ll even send you a picture of us in our t-shirts so that you can Photoshop yourself into the picture.

As always, don’t forget that donations are tax-deductible!

To be eligible for these promotions you MUST donate today or tomorrow.  Please also forward me your “donation received” confirmation email from Peace Corps to mollymreddy [at] gmail.com

Now, go tell your friends and everyone else you know!

Thanks for following along. Oh, and HAPPY 30 DAYS OF TRAINS!





The Importance of Public Spaces

17 Feb

“That’s why we’re still here, because we found the common.”

Soul Pancake has certainly been tugging on my heart strings and making me smile lately.

And they did it again with this video about a public adult ball pit– Take a Seat, Make a Friend:

Why are public spaces [ball pits] important?

Because I think we over think actions for peace.

On Sunday, when you’re planning your week, if someone asked you, “Do you have time to dedicate this week to a significant action for peace?” How would you respond?

You scan your agenda.  Your list of activities on Monday is already so long they’ve outgrown their box and overflowed into Tuesday.  I’ll never check my way through that entire list, you think.

“Hmmm, this week’s going to be tight…and I can’t say that next week will be much better.”

What if they had pitched the question, “Could you squeeze in five minutes to sit in a ball pit with someone you don’t know this week?”

Now remember, I didn’t say do you have significant time?  I said do you have time for a significant action?

After cutting through a number of responses that sound something like this, “No way! You do know that ball pits are a cesspool of germs, right?  It’s basically the equivalent of a hot tub at Arby’s that’s never been cleaned once and was filled the first time with garbage water siphoned out of the local sewer.”

You might eventually get a, “Yeah, you know, I loved ball pits as a kid.  I think I could squeeze that in, but I don’t know about this whole actions for peace thing, Molly.”

And that’s where I’d have to say, “Just trust me. But, also watch the video.”

Something magical happens when we’re forced to bump into people that we wouldn’t normally bump into– we find common ground.  There’s often a lack of peace and a lack of understanding when we stop bumping into people who are different than us, when we don’t have places like playgrounds and plazas and parks and ball pits and museums and community centers to bump into each other at.

So, in my book, an action for peace can be many things large or small, but it is certainly one that makes someone else smile, finds the common, or makes someone think, “Hey, you’re not so bad after all.”

There are lots of things we can do: open the door for someone with a smile, sit in a ball pit with a stranger, or sit in a train station community center with neighbors you’ve never taken the time to talk to before.

So, what is your agenda looking like this week? My agenda has a meeting with an awesome public spaces initiative in Asuncion called Puerto Abierto (Open Port), who would like to support bringing their concept to Paraguari and the train station!

Why not start today?

Lots of actions for peace are free, but sometimes they need monetary support, too.  Donate today! https://donate.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=donate.contribute.projDetail&projdesc=13-526-009


Vamos Chicas Vamos!

16 Feb


Big thanks are in order for the Waukesha author Scott Stoll who donated Spanish language copies of Falling Uphill: One man’s quest for happiness around the world on a bicycle to all of the girls in our club Vamos Chicas Vamos.

Last week we played games, danced, read and colored Scott’s book, tracked some of his voyage on a map and then all wrote down a dream on a piece of paper.  This week we Skyped with Scott, where he reminded the girls that dreams are dreams because they’re hard, but they’re worth fighting for.  The girls peppered him with questions about the book (and not the book), like: “Was that woman that you saved after she fainted happy when she woke up? Did you actually eat fried grasshopper? And, look at your teeth! They’re so white.  How do you keep them so clean…Show us your big smile one more time?”  Thanks, Scott, for happily responding to all questions and requests!


Dreams of the girls included:

-Be a veterinarian
-Be a hairstylist
-Find the end of a rainbow
-Touch the stars and a cloud
-Visit Paris
-Be an orthodontist
-Be a singer
-Be an architect
-Find a treasure
-Climb a building (In the style of Parkour, gotta say, this one was what surprised me the most!)

And of course, I had a dream, too:

P1090095Education for All.

In Paraguay students only go to school for 4 hours per day, 5 days per week.  They’re at school for 4.5, but they have a half hour recess usually…

Unless it rains. Or there is a holiday, or a ‘jornada’–mini-conference for teachers, or if it is too cold and class is cut short or canceled altogether. There are many reasons that lower the already low 4.5 hours a day, 5 days a week of education. Some of these reasons are still very legitimate for many– due to poor infrastructure and roads being impassable if it does rain, or no insulation in construction, which makes those few very cold days/nights hard to hold regular class …for those students coming from more rural areas with just dirt roads, getting to and from class in bad weather conditions is difficult, if not impossible.

Still, getting used to these cancellations, such as a month long soccer tournament nearly cancelling all normal classes because one day of that month celebrates Paraguayan Youth, or being advised the day before there is no school because of a teacher conference that just got planned…adapting to all of these interruptions in class is difficult, coming from a background with such a different structure. (True words from my friend Steph’s blog)

One time I was teaching a class at a high school in Paraguari and I was mid-word of a lesson when all of the kids heard a bell and had to run off to a spontaneous Mass.  “We just never do know when the priest is going to show up,” the teacher said as she scuttled out the door.

Answering God’s call had never looked so literal to me before.

Anyways, if we didn’t analyze anything about the Paraguayan school system besides the hours of instruction students receive, there would already be cause for concern.  I wont even tell you all of the other things that should be taken into consideration for reform, because they’d scare the pants right off of ya!

So, how do we make up for this educational gap?  And what are Paraguayan youth learning in their other 12 waking hours of the day?

By offering more educational opportunities outside of school, say, at the train station!

Some Paraguayans may have enough money for their kids to play on a soccer or handball team with a coach, take dance lessons, have private tutoring or take English classes, providing extra environments for their kids to learn valuable life lessons.  Although, the vast majority of Paraguayans fall into the category that doesn‘t have access to these things.

The train station, through the training of the high school and college-aged Conductors  as cultural guides and facilitators, will be prepared to offer regular (and free!) programming in art & culture, tourism & history, reading, writing, leadership, teamwork & recreation, and homework clubs, reaching out to children, youth and adults come April!

Serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Paraguay has left me with lots of things that I don’t understand about the world and my role in it.  One thing that I can say with confidence is that it all comes back to education and I believe with all of my heart that everyone deserves access to a quality education.

I believe in Education for All.  Help me improve access in Paraguay by donating today!

Want a free postcard from Paraguay?

7 Feb

No problem, I’ll send that right over.

But first, today is the 15th day of 30 Days of Trains!  We’re halfway through people, and that is something to celebrate!  It’s also my sister Emily’s birthday today.  So, there are double the reasons to celebrate!

In honor of this milestone if you make a donation of $15.00 or more to my Train Station Community Center today or tomorrow (February 7 & 8, 2013) I will send you a personalized postcard from Paraguay!


I know all long you’ve been wondering, What’s in it for me?

And here you have it:
-A postcard!
-A tax deduction!
-An autograph! (Let’s be honest, there’s approximately a 4.3% chance that I will become famous during this lifetime, so I’m offering you an excellent Early Bird Special rate!)

Thank you in advance for considering making a donation and for all of the people who have donated along the journey so far!  I can’t wait to have sore hands from having to write so many postcards 🙂

To ensure that your postcard arrives make your donation right away (only $15.00+ donations made on February 7th and 8th will receive a postcard)!  Please also send me a Facebook message or email that includes your address. (Peace Corps doesn’t provide me with the names of donors until after I’ve closed out my entire grant)

Because I wrangled a sheep for the birth of the babe

30 Jan

In December, things really began heating up, both literally and figuratively.

Summer was in full bloom and the commission at the train station was motivated to clean up the neighborhood and the area around the station in time for Christmas.  Much thought was put into what Christmas lights would adorn the station and the kids of the neighborhood were busy rehearsing lines for their living nativity scene.


I was generally around for the practices and all of the kids know me, so at some point the kids began to look to me as the official costume consultant for the play.  I figured this was not the time to mention that I have never previously attended a reenactment of the birth of Jesus, nor am I entirely up to date on all of my Bible stories.

The fateful day approached and the costumes looked great, the lights had been hung, and all of the neighbors gathered their chairs in front of the steps of the train station.  The only problem was that there was a missing sheep!

Somehow, it became my job to wrangle this sheep from the back of the train station to the front of the presentation.  It belonged to one of the girls in the neighborhood who was a shepherd in the play and she was trying to help me as I woke it up from it’s intermittent naps on the walk around the building (SO tired!).  We pushed and pulled and lifted and grunted and cheered this little sheep up to it’s place in the spotlight with the shepherds, making it just in time for the 2nd minute of the play.

The train station made a great back drop for the live nativity scene, but what was even more beautiful was looking out at the big crowd from the neighborhood and all of Paraguari that had formed to watch.  Neighbors who had never spoke shared Christmas treats, kids from all different types of families played together, and Clerico (the traditional Christmas beverage) was shared by all.

Click here if you think this sounds fun and/or would like me to continue to wrangle sheep: https://donate.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=donate.contribute.projDetail&projdesc=13-526-009

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