Global Service Scholar: Lazaro Vargas
Country: Paraguay

In Paraguay, I have been most surprised by the generosity and kindness of the people we have come into contact with. For example, on the streets of Asuncion and in the Escuela Agricola (the agricultural and entrepreneur high school where we’re interning), strangers will say “Hola que tal” (Hello, how’s it going) or “Hola buenos dias” (Hello, good day). Back home in the United States, most people just mind their own business in the streets or neighborhoods without exchanging any words. Little did I think I would find so much happiness and generosity here in one of the poorest countries in the world.

Another aspect of Paraguay that has been surprising to me is the transportation system. Most people here drive motorcycles since they are economically feasible and accessible compared to cars. I did not expect to see so many people on motorcycles in the streets and in the rural areas. I also found the public bus system different from the United States in the way that the bus driver doesn’t close the entrance door to the bus when traveling. By leaving the door open, which seems hazardous to me, the bus driver can depart and move faster from bus stop to bus stop. Moreover, most drivers I observed drive very fast and reckless, which to me was scary. Despite this way of driving, I surprisingly haven’t seen any car or motorcycle accidents, which I thought there would of a lot of. I learned that you have to be very alert and aware of your surroundings when walking or driving in the streets of Asuncion.

I am looking forward to learning more Guarani (one of the dominant languages spoken in Paraguay, along with Spanish) because it’ll allow me to communicate more with the high school students we’re working with and to demonstrate to them that I am genuinely interested in learning more about their lives. I am also looking forward to engaging and interacting more with the students. I want to teach them whatever they desire to learn or are struggling with in order to make a difference in their lives. Also I am looking forward to learning more about how poverty is experienced in this country. This will allow me to understand more about poverty alleviation and how it can be approached in different ways to make meaningful changes and solutions.


Photo courtesy Lazaro Vargas