Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The normal life

(Reminder: I will no longer be posing pictures here, to see my latest pictures look up my account on Facebook or send me an email for a link)

The longer I stay here in Paraguay the more "normal" life becomes. Not USA normal, and certainly not routine, but I am no longer in a constant state of shock. What has become normal is being aware of the constant challenges that I am presented with every day that would be rare or non existant back home. It has become normal to do things that would be absormal or insane in the United States.

What would you think if a weird foreign kid who spoke a strange form of English came over to your house and offered his dubious services as a "professional volunteer"?

Could a 23-year-old ever in a million years make a presentation to a group of teachers at a school on teaching techniques?

Most North Americans would be amused at best if a foreign kid offered to help plant a garden with them.

We North Americans have advantages based on economic and educational status in the world. In a lot of ways we see ourselves as the top dogs who don't need a word of advice from anybody. I wonder if it would be bad if we were a little more open minded about cultural exchange. Sure, on the technical side we are doing alright but we could gain a whole lot from learning about other parts of the world from a source other than chapter 8 paragraph 3 of a high school history book.

If we knew personally other folk around the world, we would be more understanding of their cultural differences. With that understanding, we would be more willing to work with them to solve common problems. In working together to solve common problems the idea of killing each other over a resource or ideology would seem rediculous.

That is another thing that has become almost normal - philosophical excursions in the middle of otherwise straightforward ideas. After exactly a year in Paraguay, things are coming together and the future looks bright. Life is happening all around me.

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