Once I had arrived in Paraguay I could get to grips with what I had come here to do, teaching children English.
From the capital once everyone had caught their breaths we relocated 80km into the interior where the project was to be set up. The chosen location was the small country town of Piribebuy. This like most towns in Paraguay has districts spreading out into the surrounding countryside. The one where we were to base ourselves is called Naranjo and lies 15km from the town center. Far enough to be truely rural but still close enough to town for the nessecities such as shopping.
Through family connections we were given the use of a large field connected to a local house and a couple of out buildings for the school.
Word very soon spread through the community that some foreigners had arrived seeking to teach the children English and that they were not requiring any money to do so.
Very soon there were enough children attending for there to be various class both morning and afternoon five days a week. Although of course some were there bought along by their friends or because their parents had sent them all were very keen students, eager to learn and turning up for their classes two or three times a week.
The spread of ages covered the whole of childhood and adolescense from 5 year old doing colouring and singing to 18 year olds wanting to show employers what they could master.
The happy little commuity initially contained a dozen teachers but as time went by the numbers reduced due to the differing amounts of time people were able to give to a project so far from England to a stable 4 or 5. This though was still enough to run the school and a couple of external off shoots as by then everyone had a pretty good idea of what was required of them.
For what ever the age group the set up was the same. Time spent prior to the class planning the lessons, writing lesson plans, making props and generally getting everything organized for the children. Then on top of that the occasional test to check that things were being learnt.
In addition to the classes there were also from time to time special events such as sports day and English week which needed additional planning .
The children enjoyed these extra events and turned out in great numbers. They were a chance to do things they had never done before.
On the sports day the heat ruled out many of the more physical events but these were replaced by such English things as an obsitical race and pinning the tale on the donkey and during the English week as well as the flag making everyone had a go at cooking pancakes.
The groups of children soon became tight knit classes where those teaching got to know all the children and their various capabilities and where the children got to know their teachers. All these years later if i meet any of the adults who were children in those classes they always remember that time and their teacher fondly.
It is nice to think that out there there are people who still have some of the English I taught them.
Unfortunatly however as good as the times were it was clear the school could not go on forever. Mainly due to the lack of fresh volunteers heading out from England. So it was a sad day when after 18 months the school closed it’s doors for the last time.
I had been there all the way through from the first day until the last.
When all was done I headed off for a few weeks touring South America before flying back to England and considering what to do next.