The Peace Corps has been working in Paraguay since 1967, and is one of the oldest continuously operating Peace Corps posts in the world. The first Volunteers arrived in country in 1967 to work in agriculture extension in rural areas, and programs were soon established to work in the health and education sectors as well.
Nearly 3,000 Peace Corps Volunteers have served in Paraguay since 1967, and about 90 Volunteers arrive each year. Today, approximately 200 Volunteers are working in the six major sectors of agriculture, education, environment, health, small business development, and urban youth development.
Peace Corps Volunteers have always been warmly welcomed throughout Paraguay. Contributing to this receptivity are the efforts that Peace Corps/Paraguay has made to foster cultural sensitivity in its Volunteers, to place them directly in the communities to live at the level of the people with whom they work, and to stress the importance of communication in the indigenous language, Guaraní, as well as Spanish.
Peace Corps History
Main article: History of the Peace Corps in Paraguay
The Peace Corps has been working in Paraguay since 1967, and the country is one of the oldest continuously operating posts in the Peace Corps. After the government of Paraguay and the Peace Corps signed a joint agreement on November 4, 1966, the first Volunteers arrived in 1967 to work in agricultural extension in rural areas. Before long, projects were also established in the health and education sectors. Nearly 3,000 Peace Corps Volunteers have served in Paraguay since 1967, and more than 40 years later, an average of 130 Volunteers arrive each year. Today, approximately 200 Volunteers are working in the five major sectors of agriculture, community economic development, education, environment, and health. Many former Paraguay Volunteers continue to stay informed about the country‘s affairs and assist in development efforts in the country—years after they completed their service. At the same time, returned Volunteers have contributed a great deal to increasing Americans‘ knowledge and appreciation of Paraguay and its people.
Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyle
Main article: Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyles in Paraguay
Most Volunteers live and work in rural areas, but a growing number are being assigned to work in urban centers in response to the recent increase in urban migration. The latest census shows that more than half of the population lives in larger towns or cities. Your Volunteer Assignment Description (VAD) should indicate whether your project site is likely to be urban or rural. All Volunteers spend some time in Asunción because it is the location of the Peace Corps office, as well as the site of conferences and some in-service training.
About 80 percent of Volunteers live in small towns or villages with fewer than 5,000 people, and some of these campo (countryside) sites have fewer than 200 inhabitants. Most (but not all) have electricity, as the country has increased the availability of electricity from 24 percent of Paraguay‘s 3 million people in 1978 to more than 60 percent of the current population of about 6.2 million. Generally, streets in the campo towns are unpaved, and there is no running water or indoor toilets. Few people in these towns have traveled outside Paraguay, and many have never even been to Asunción. The only people with cars are likely to be the doctor, the priest, and a few business people, government officials, and ranchers. Horses, motorcycles, bicycles, and ox carts make up the majority of local traffic, with children playing freely alongside roaming cows, pigs, and chickens.
For both rural and urban Volunteers, housing in Paraguay is basic. Volunteers are required to live with a Paraguayan family during their initial three months of service. Some Volunteers then choose to live alone in one- or two-room wood or brick homes; others choose to live with a Paraguayan family for their entire two years of service. Peace Corps/Paraguay strongly recommends that Volunteers, especially single women, consider this option. Living with a family not only helps with community integration, but also decreases personal security risks. If you choose to live with a family, the furniture will be adequate and functional, but probably not overly comfortable. If you choose to live on your own, you will likely need to furnish the place yourself.
Volunteers who live in the capital or other large cities will have easier access to services such as running water, electricity, telephones, public transportation, and the Internet. They will also enjoy many of the same shopping and entertainment amenities found in similar-size cities in the United States.
Main article: Training in Paraguay
Pre-service training (PST) is the first event within a competency-based training program that continues throughout your 27 months of service in Paraguay. PST ensures that Volunteers are equipped with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to effectively perform their jobs. Training is conducted in Paraguay at the Peace Corps Training Center by the training staff, with participation from current and former Volunteers, program managers, some representatives of Paraguayan organizations, medical officers, the safety and security officer, the program and training officer, and the country director. The length of PST varies, usually ranging from 10 to 11 weeks, depending on the competencies required for the assignment. Peace Corps/Paraguay measures achievement of learning through written tests that have a minimum score requirement, through ongoing qualitative technical assessments of the various tasks assigned trainees, through periodic personal interviews and language interviews, through a self-evaluative process called TAPS, through staff observation of the trainees in their communities, and through conversations with the host families and other members of the satellite community. If a trainee has successfully achieved competencies, including language standards, he/she is then sworn in as a Peace Corps Volunteer.
Throughout service, Volunteers strive to achieve performance competencies. Initially, PST affords the opportunity for trainees to develop and test their own resources. As a trainee, you will play an active role in self-education. You will be asked to decide how best to set and meet objectives and to find alternative solutions. You will be asked to prepare for an experience in which you will often have to take the initiative and accept responsibility for decisions. The success of your learning will be enhanced by your own effort to take responsibility for your learning and through sharing experiences with others.
Peace Corps training is founded on adult learning methods and often includes experiential ―hands-on‖ applications such as conducting a participatory community needs assessment and facilitating groups. Successful training results in competence in various technical, linguistic, cross-cultural, health, and safety and security areas. Integrating into the community is usually one of the core competencies Volunteers strive to achieve both in pre-service training and during the first several months of service. Successful sustainable development work is based on the local trust and confidence Volunteers build by living in, and respectfully integrating into, the Paraguayan community and culture. Trainees are prepared for this through a "homestay" experience, which requires trainees to live with host families during PST and during their first three months at their site. Integration into the community not only facilitates good working relationships, but it fosters language learning and cross-cultural acceptance and trust, which help ensure your health, safety, and security.
Woven into the competencies, the ability to communicate in the host country language is critical to being an effective Peace Corps Volunteer. So basic is this precept that it is spelled out in the Peace Corps Act: No person shall be assigned to duty as a Volunteer under this act in any foreign country or area unless at the time of such assignment he (or she) possesses such reasonable proficiency as his (or her) assignment requires in speaking the language of the country or area to which he (or she) is assigned.
Health Care and Safety
Main article: Health Care and Safety in Paraguay
The Peace Corps’ highest priority is maintaining the health and safety of every Volunteer. Peace Corps medical programs emphasize the preventive, rather than the curative, approach to disease. The Peace Corps in Paraguay maintains a clinic that is staffed full time by a physician and a registered nurse, who take care of Volunteers’ primary healthcare needs. Additional medical services, such as testing and basic treatment, are also available in Paraguay at local, American-standard hospitals. If you become seriously ill or have a condition that cannot be handled adequately in-country, you will be medically evacuated to either Panama or the United States for treatment.
Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues
Main article: Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues in Paraguay
In Paraguay, as in other Peace Corps host countries, Volunteers’ behavior, lifestyles, background, and beliefs are judged in a cultural context very different from their own. Certain personal perspectives commonly accepted in the United States may be quite uncommon, unacceptable, or even repressed in Paraguay.
Outside of Paraguay’s capital, residents of rural communities have had relatively little exposure to other cultures, races, religions, and lifestyles. What people view as typical norteamericano behavior or norms may be a misconception, such as the belief that all Americans are rich and have blond hair and blue eyes. The people of Paraguay are justly known for their generous hospitality to foreigners; however, members of the community in which you will live may display a range of reactions to cultural differences that you present.
- Possible Issues for Female Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color
- Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers
- Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Volunteers with Disabilities
Frequently Asked Questions
Main article: FAQs about Peace Corps in Paraguay
- How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Paraguay?
- What is the electric current in Paraguay?
- How much money should I bring?
- When can I take vacation and have people visit me?
- Will my belongings be covered by insurance?
- Do I need an international driver’s license?
- What should I bring as gifts for Paraguayan friends and my host family?
- Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be?
- How can my family contact me in an emergency?
- Can I call home from Paraguay?
- Should I bring a cellular phone with me?
- Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?
- How can people send items to me in Paraguay?
Main article: Packing List for Paraguay
This list has been compiled by Volunteers serving in Paraguay and is based on their experience. Use it as an informal guide in making your own list, bearing in mind that every experience is unique. There is no perfect list! You obviously cannot bring everything we mention, so consider those items that make the most sense to you personally and professionally. As you decide what to bring, keep in mind that you have a 23 kilo, or 50 pound, weight restriction per bag, and a 2 bag limit. And remember, you can get almost everything you need in Paraguay. There are modern shopping malls in Asunción. Most small appliances, such as blow dryers and CD players/radio, are available. Clothes can be purchased or made for a modest price, and thrift stores offer used American clothing.
- General Clothing
- For Women
- For Men
- Personal Hygiene and Toiletry Items
Peace Corps News
The following is automatic RSS feed of Peace Corps news for this country.
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PEACE CORPS JOURNALS
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Contributions to the Paraguay Country Fund will support Volunteer and community projects that will take place in Paraguay. These projects include water and sanitation, agricultural development, and youth programs.