Perspectives on Paraguay
- South America, Paraguay
- Grades 9-12
- Cross-Cultural Understanding
- 40 minutes
Students examine cultural differences between Paraguay and the United States.
Nichola Minott was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Paraguay from 1991 to 1994. She worked as a teacher trainer and then as a health coordinator. In the interview excerpts printed on the student activity sheet, Nichola tells about her experiences as a Volunteer in a South American country. She provides a glimpse of the lives and culture of the people of Paraguay. Be aware that students may find aspects of Paraguayan life unfamiliar and strange in comparison with their own. Emphasize the need to be respectful of other peoples' ways of life, ideas, and traditions while reading and discussing the interview.
Students will develop awareness of diverse cultural norms and values.
- Help students locate Paraguay on a world map. Ask students to share their ideas about how a Paraguayan teenager's life might compare with a teenager's life in the United States. At this point it doesn't matter whether students have much background information about Paraguay; it will be interesting to see what the students' expectations are.
- Provide each student with a copy of Perspectives on Paraguay (find link above). Ask students to read the interview to learn about aspects of Paraguayan life and to compare it with their own.
- After the students have read the interview independently, ask them to work in small groups to find specific similarities and differences between Paraguayan and American views. Be sure all of the cultural backgrounds represented in your class are heard during these discussions and during the debriefing period.
- Ask a student spokesperson to summarize the similarities and differences identified by each small group.
Use the following questions to help students think about what they have learned.
- What Paraguayan customs or views seemed most unusual to you? Are there aspects of Paraguayan life described in the interview that would be difficult for you to adapt to? Did Nichola Minott describe family and social expectations that also are important in your community?
- What are some characteristics of life in our community that might make a teenager from Paraguay feel uncomfortable?
- What are some values and characteristics that Nichola Minott labels as "American"? Would all Americans in all regions and communities agree with her?
- Nichola Minott said that the Paraguayan perception of Americans is "blond hair, blue eyes." If you were a Peace Corps Volunteer in Paraguay, what could you do to give people a more diverse perspective?
- View theWorld Wise Schools video Destination: Paraguay. Ask students if their impressions of life in Paraguay from reading Nichola Minott's interview were confirmed or challenged.
- Have students create a video that demonstrates daily life in your community. Encourage students to present the community's diversity.
- Use this same reading as the basis for a discussion on generalizations and how to recognize them. See "How Accurate Is It?" for suggestions and debriefing questions.