Listening is hard work: week two as an ELF in Paraguay

I made it through another week! I won’t bore you with my long list of accomplishments during week two, but if you’re dying to know, it does involve figuring out how to write my address and pay my rent. Yay me!

You can read about week one’s excitement here.

sticking with the mural/selfie theme

Yesterday, while decompressing from many hours of presentations at a seminar, I was looking back at my notes from my pre-departure orientation that was meant to get me ready for this whole experience. One thing I remembered hearing over and over again was that the first few months I’d do a lot of waiting around. Wondering what I should be doing. Even being bored.

I can see how someone might feel that way. I don’t really have a schedule yet. My orientation here is winding down, and I’m not really expected to be anywhere or do anything on a regular basis yet. And while friendships are surely beginning, I’m not organizing outings around town yet.

But bored? Waiting? Absolutely not.

Showing up is not passive. It’s intense.

It takes a lot of effort and concentration to listen. To really see what’s going on. And to understand why people think I’m here and what they think I can contribute.

And that’s pretty much what I’ve been doing these past weeks.

I’m listening to my new colleagues, and learning about the programs they run. Seriously, there is some amazing stuff going on around here.

I’m listening to people’s stories and experiences, and comparing them with what The Google has told me about Paraguay. Paraguay is a bilingual country, but what does that actually look like, and how does English fit in? The Ministry of Education is focusing on educational reform, but what does that mean in practice? This concert is supposed to start at 8:00, so why am I still wondering what’s going on at 8:45? 🙂

The hardest part about this kind of listening is the openness it requires. I don’t have enough information to draw conclusions. It’s like gathering puzzle pieces, but not knowing what the full puzzle looks like yet. I have to just keep holding all the pieces until patterns emerge.

Speaking of listening…

There’s a lot of music around here. And not just from the club a half of a block from my apartment. I’ve been to a folklore concert, heard a band in a coffee shop, and several musical performances at a seminar. It’s lovely, and I’m looking forward to learning more about Paraguayan music.

Finally, here’s something else I’ll be listening to. Under construction a few blocks from my apartment.

So here’s to showing up and listening.

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Director of Unusual Circumstances: Teacher, trainer, coach, consultant. Find out more about me at: About Us