Five Kansas high school students were selected to travel to Paraguay in July to represent Kansas, and the United States. Here is a summary of their experiences and a slide show–
To refresh your memory about who the Youth Ambassadors were, click here
After being welcomed warmly by the Partners Staff in Washington D.C., we began our journey. Many of us had never been to our nation’s capital before, and we were quickly thrown into a fast paced lifestyle. We rode the metro which was an interesting experience for those of us who do not have a metro system in our own communities. Our days were filled with visiting monuments, museums and memorials. We also met with different government officials such as Craig Kelly, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. Mr. Kelly gave us important information on the goals in partnership with other countries and how this program will contribute to U.S. foreign policy goals. We also met with Rigoberto Gauto Vielman, the Paraguayan Ambassador to the US. He and his staff shared information about the culture of Paraguay that helped us once we arrived there.
Twenty-four hours later, we finally arrived in Paraguay where we were warmly welcomed by our host families. Even though our families were wonderful, we all experienced a bit of a culture shock. From the greeting kisses to the crazy driving, there were many differences between the US and Paraguay. The Guarani language was one such difference that we had to deal with. Many of our friends and family spoke Guarani and were excited to teach us words in it.
To download a powerpoint slide show of their experiences click below:
Kansas Youth Ambassadors to PY 2010
The following day we went to one of the shopping malls, met up with the Paraguayan Youth Ambassadors (YAs) and watched Paraguay’s World Cup game. It was a thrilling experience, especially since Paraguay advanced to the next round!
The following week, we went to the US Embassy and met with Liliana Ayalde, US Ambassador to Paraguay. We had a conversation with her discussing Paraguayan culture and then ate lunch with her and the Paraguayan YAs. We also visited the historical city center including the Casa de Independencia, The Panteon de Heroes and the former Palacio Legistivo. We got to visit many other parts of Paraguay including smaller towns around Asuncion and the campo as well. In the small town of Ita, we visited pottery artisans Julia Isidrez and Juana Marta Rodas. They gave us a demonstration on how to make indigenous clay sculptures.
In the campo, we visited San Francisco Agricultural School where high school and college students learned about how to sustain themselves through agricultural projects. One of the highlights of the trip was visiting the Paraguayan YAs volunteer project at Escuela Basica 322 “Profesora Silvia Miranda de Cueto”. The YAs had greatly helped the school by providing it with computers, books and a roof. The elementary school students greeted us with song and dance and it was a heart-warming welcome. During a day of volunteering, we had the opportunity to go to a community day care center and interact with the local children. We got to play games with them and share our music. It inspired us to become more involved in our own communities.
During our last week, we attended various high schools. It was fun to compare the similarities and differences between our communities and schools. The school day was very different than what we were used to; the teachers changed classes instead of the students and the students have breaks to eat snacks and visit with friends. Despite the differences, all of us made many friends.
This experience has been enjoyable and something that all of us will remember for the rest of our lives. From inspiring us to volunteer to making friends across international borders, this trip has greatly impacted all of us.
Filed under: Kansas Youth Ambassadors, News from Paraguay | Leave a comment »