Tag Archives: paraguari

Cast your vote!

14 Jul

The Espacio Cultural La Estación is having a photo contest to celebrate our upcoming Open Station event– which will be the third and last event managed by the current team of Cultural Conductors.

We’re doing the prep work to pass the baton off to another group of youth who will continue the work at the train station.  I’m also doing the prep work to leave Paraguay at the end of the month!  This has me both excited to see my family, friends and catch the end of United States Summer, and simultaneously panicked and sad about leaving Paraguay.  So much to do, so little time!  We’ll see if it all gets done, but either way I’ll be on a bus to Brazil at the end of the month to travel and see friends, a plane to Panama to meet up with my brother, and finally a plane to Chicago near the end of August.

The first round of voting on the contest we’re doing on Facebook by “likes.” Take a second to flip through the photos to see what Paraguay looks like and to help boost the self-esteem of participants! 🙂 Additionally, we’re not regulating one vote per category, so you can go liking crazy.  Go ahead and like every single one in the album. 🙂

Best photo of the train station in Paraguari category: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.583121071711135.1073741843.543046729051903&type=1&l=ce65cfebc1

Best general photo of Paraguari (the entire state, not just my city): https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.580404688649440.1073741841.543046729051903&type=1&l=00e3218dcd

Hope you enjoy them and I hope you vote!

Hasta pronto!

 

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Community Effort

21 Jun

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!

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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!

ajedrez vivo

As one would expect, the showdown was between a nine year old and a mime.  Nine year old triumphant.

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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!

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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!)

 

Lovely accomplishments infographic designed by my friend Amy.

Lovely accomplishments infographic designed by my friend Amy.

 

Translation:

Achievements of the Cultural Conductors since March 2013-
8 young people received 25 hours of training, 3 community fairs called Open Stations bringing more than 400 visitors and collaboration with 12 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 4 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

Read about us in the news: http://www.abc.com.py/edicion-impresa/suplementos/gaceta-del-sur/juegos-y-musica-en-la-antigua-estacion-del-tren-de-paraguari-583629.html

http://www.lanacion.com.py/articulo/129152-realizan-juego-de-ajedrez-viviente.html

http://www.lanacion.com.py/articulo/129358-estacion-de-tren-de-paraguari-se-convierte-en-un-espacio-cultural.html

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Making a Splash in the Deep End

26 Mar

I had the Conductores Culturales training this last weekend and it went great!

My friends and fellow Peace Corps volunteers Amy and Steph really have been a major help on this project– sitting through a full day of interviews and then a whole weekend training.

Lots of lovely people helped make it happen, though:  My boss Elisa helped truck stuff around and then gave the opening words on leadership; one of the professors at the train station drove all of the meals and snacks to the location of the training a few kilometers outside of the city; the team from Costanera Viva, a public spaces initiative, came to present; an AIESECer I know from Asuncion supported the activities; a parent of one of the new Conductors, and train commission member, and my Paraguayan uncle gave people rides home; the outdoor adventure location EcoReserva Mbatovi donated site visits for all of the Conductors; the training location, a space maintained by the army base, was donated; my friend Veronica, and former PC volunteer, sent me her old computer which allowed me to plan all of the training sessions; and many of the dollars that you beautiful readers donated also went to the training and will continue to support the work of the Cultural Conductors!

It truly was a collaboration and I will be forever grateful that so many moving parts managed to fit together gracefully.

At the beginning of the training all of the Conductors did a self-assessment of their metaphorical behavior in the pool of life– were they testers, waders, or plungers?

Getting ready to take the leap

Getting ready to take the leap

Many in the group self-identified as waders with a few testers in the mix (the ones who stick their toe in to test things out, but mainly just observe the behavior of other people before making moves).

I told them that lastimosamente we didn’t have time for any of the three and I had to just throw them all into the deepest end of the pool knowing that they couldn’t swim– But, that I was jumping in after them and we’d all learn how to swim together.

We all agreed that no one looks cute while they’re flailing around the deep end so our best bet was to take a deep breath and just relax…and I think it worked out well.

More than a few admitted that they didn’t know what to expect when they got to the training on Friday, but were thinking something along the lines of, “Who are these people and what did I get myself into?”

They said by Sunday they felt like family and were extremely excited to move forward on planning their first event– Estacion Abierta (Open Station), which will conveniently be held on my birthday in April!

Making it look easy

Making it look easy

Stay tuned for more stories about the Conductors. Follow this link to see more photos from the training event: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10102034710830067.1073741825.8644178&type=1&l=5a21e2af81

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 church bells just struck midnight

22 Feb

Literally.

The other day when a friend stayed over she asked if my church bells rang every hour on the hour as their tones filled the air.

She glanced down at her watch, it was 5:45pm.

...and every 15 minutes before the hour?

“No, that can’t possibly be right,” I responded.  Turns out it is.  The church bells ring on the hour all through the night.  And usually 15 minutes before the hour, too, just for good measure.

These are the sounds (along with the roosters, the polka paraguaya, the old man campo yell) that I don’t want to forget, but that I also can’t seem to remember while I’m still here. All too familiar.

Anyways, I’ve been giving myself an extra 3 hours to post my daily blog by pretending like I’m in Wisco’s Central time, but I haven’t had to cash in on these hours at all during 30 Days of Trains!  Except for today.

This morning my sister Carybeth emailed me to remind me what I was doing one year ago today.  She uses this cool thing called TimeHop that reminds you what your social media statuses were one year ago today.  I myself have not signed up for the daily email, but I’m enjoying when my life events were big enough that they spilled over into Carybeth’s and she can remind me of them.

So she said, Remember when you made this awesome video?  Can you believe that was a year ago?

I couldn’t.  It’s funny to think about that time.  Scrambling all over to try and make a youth leadership camp happen in my site.  Here I am a year later and I’m scrambling around trying to make a youth leadership training program happen.

It appears I like leadership.  And scrambling.

But, I’ve definitely learned a lot in the last year and I’m pretty confident that Conductores Culturales is going to be more successful and sustainable than last year’s scramble.

So, I thought I’d make another video on this day so that my sister can send me another email reminding me in one more year.

During the making I did remember quite clearly that my computer was actually working one year ago much better than it is today– this video was quite the 6 hour headache to try and get video/quality/audio/internet, etc. all working how they needed to.

But, alas, plan to not have your plans go according to plan.  Especially in Paraguay.

Hope you like it! And if you don’t speak Spanish leave your guess of what I’m saying in the comments and I’ll tell you if you’re right or wrong! 🙂

Oh, and don’t forget to donate!  Only $765 to go! https://donate.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=donate.contribute.projDetail&projdesc=13-526-009

Day 28

20 Feb

Of 30 Days of Trains! that is…Can you believe it?  We’re almost done.

All of these shenanigans started on January 24th.

Since then we’ve received over $2,000 dollars in donations and have only $765 dollars left to go in order to close out the grant and get to work on the Train Station Community Center in Paraguari, Paraguay!

Since 30 Days of Trains! started we’ve received 955 page views and have had visitors from 35 countries learn about the project.

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We’ve had guest blogs from:
-Pablo Zulaica Parra, A Spaniard currently living in Mexico who biked the distance of the Paraguayan rails: Biking the Distance
-Elizabeth Escobar, a returned Peace Corps volunteer from Paraguay who worked on a similar train station project during her service: Notes from the Field
-Greg Henschen, a lifelong train enthusiast and model railroader: Model Railroading
-St. John Barned-Smith, a writer for the Gazette and another returned volunteer who has researched and written stories about the trains and their history in Paraguay: Like a Big Party
-Gabrielle McNichol, a current high school student and aspiring Peace Corps volunteer organizing a project to collect supplies for the train station at her school: Generosity
-Brittany Boroian, a fellow Peace Corps volunteer, friend, blogger, train lover and supporter of this project: How Have Trains Impacted Your Life?

My friend Evelyn designed a Valentine’s Day card in honor of the train station, my friend Carly helped me record our version of Train Song, and my friend Stephanie made these blogs possible by lending me her computer for the entirety of her vacation!

To top it all off friends, family, fellow volunteers, past co-workers and people I’ve never even met have been supporting this project, cheering me on, and making donations.  And that means a lot.

With much love and gratitude, I promise that I’ll stop maxing out your inboxes, Facebook feeds, Google Readers, etc. in two more days,

Molly

View outside of the train station at night.

View outside of the train station at night.

Houston, we have lift off!

19 Feb

Today was a big day.

Confession: I’ve been working my butt off on the online/promotion/North American side of the train station project while simultaneously dragging my feet on the Paraguayan side.

Why?

Well, I wasn’t so sure that we were going to manage to raise all of the money for the project ($965 to go!).  I didn’t want to set dates in stone, release applications for participation, reserve the training location for the Cultural Conductors course, etc. only to have to hang my head and say, “Sorry guys, show’s over…and it never even began.”

Somewhere a couple weeks ago my faith started to grow and I could feel the teeter totter starting to rise, although my legs were still dangling and my seat didn’t feel that secure.

Well, today I pulled the trigger, because I have that much faith we’ll reach our fund raising goal (But we’ve still got work to do, tell your friends!)

With the team at the train station (aptly led by a man named ‘Lider’ whose name translates to ‘Leader’) we solidified the time line for the Conductors program and visited the location where we’re going to hold the training.

So, I just launched the informational powerpoint: http://tinyurl.com/conductoresparaguari, the extended project description: http://tinyurl.com/b3goh9b, and the application for participation: http://tinyurl.com/serconductor

I know what you’re thinking, ‘Thanks, Molly, I’ve been wanting to brush up on my Spanish/teach it to myself for the first time by reading through these three documents.’

And so yeah, it’s really no problem.

But maybe you’re actually thinking, ‘I‘m an expert Spanish speaker and I just spotted an embarrassing error.’

In which case, I’m thinking, ‘Could you tell me? Because I’d actually really like to know that.’

At this very moment Spanish language copies of The Little Engine that Could are fly through space towards Paraguay thanks to a wonderful friend of mine, high school students in Deleware are collecting supplies for the art room-to-be at the train station and students at Waukesha STEM are making recycled jewelry to sell and earn money to donate the train station.

What can YOU do to help us make this happen?

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