Year — Fall 2019
Semester — Fall 2019
Year — Spring 2019
Feb 19-22, 2019 → Jan 3-6, 2020
Semester — Spring 2019
Feb 19-22, 2019 → Aug 8-11, 2019
Spend a year or semester in el corazón de Sudamerica (the heart of South America) learning Spanish and immersing yourself in Paraguayan daily life. By living with a host family and attending a local high school, you’ll get an inside look at Paraguay’s fusion of Spanish and indigenous Guaraní cultures. This is your chance to participate in local customs like the asado (a traditional barbeque) and become an integral part of your community. Paraguay just might be South America’s most untouched, natural gem, so get ready for an adventure and learning experience that’s bound to change your life!
In Paraguay you might be greeted in Spanish (“¿Cómo está?”) or the local indigenous dialect, Guaraní (“¿Mba'eichapa?”). Paraguayans are generally bilingual—they say that Spanish is the language of the head, while Guaraní is the language of the heart. Hand gestures are a common way to communicate; you can give a “thumbs up” when saying “Al pelo” (which means that everything is good) or “Iporã” (which means that everything is fine). To be respectful, Paraguayans often address adults as Don (for men) and Doña (for women).
Your journey to Paraguay will begin in New York City or Miami, where you’ll meet your fellow AFSers from the US. Together you’ll attend an overnight orientation and get a crash course on Paraguayan language and culture. Then you’ll travel as a group to the city of Asunción where you’ll be met by AFS staff and volunteers.
Soon you’ll be ready to head to your community. Along the way, you’ll see a striking contrast of modern and rural, with most neighborhoods remaining fairly untouched by modern technology. You may catch sight of Guaraní Indians selling feathered headdresses in city plazas or pass locals riding through the streets in horse- or ox-drawn carts. And as you get closer to your new home, you’ll probably find people relaxing and drinking yerba (herbal tea) on cozy front-yard patios.
AFSers have lived with host families all over Paraguay, but you’ll most likely be in a small town with access to nearby cities. Paraguayan society centers on the extended family, and children often live with their parents until they marry. That means you could have host siblings of any age, ranging from small children to young adults in their twenties or thirties.
Paraguayans are very social with their neighbors. Friends often drop in for impromptu visits, announcing their presence by clapping their hands at the gate. Invited guests don’t need to be punctual, since it’s common to arrive even hours late at a friend’s or relative’s house.See where past AFSers have lived
Teenagers tend to get together in town plazas to relax, chat, and get something to eat. They like to listen to music with a strong beat, and a lot of what you’ll hear in Paraguay is heavily influenced by music from Spain or the United States. Dancing is popular, whether traditional or contemporary, especially the Danza Paraguaya (the Paraguayan Polka). Soccer is the country’s favorite sport, with passionate fans of all ages. Your Paraguayan friends may also enjoy volleyball, tennis, or basketball, and some of them might play on community teams.
In Paraguay you can find vendors selling food on the street almost anywhere you go, and it’s common for people to eat and drink their meals in public squares. Popular dishes include mandioca (cassava), sopa Paraguaya (cornbread baked with cheese, onions, and sometimes meat), chipa (hard cheese bread), tortillas, and empanadas (deep-fried meat or vegetable turnovers). Paraguayans often relax by drinking tereré (cold herbal tea) and mate (hot herbal tea) with friends and family. It’s common to share tea from a guampa (a container made of wood, cattle horns, or gourds), taking a sip through the bombilla (metal straw) before passing it on to the next person. For breakfast you can try a hot drink called cocido, which contains mate, cooked sugar, and milk.
Like in many South American countries, the school year in Paraguay begins in mid-February and ends in November, with a two week winter break in July. You can expect to be enrolled in a private or public high school. Then you’ll begin to focus on one of three areas of study: business/accounting/administration, social sciences, or biological sciences. If you go to a public school, you’ll likely attend either morning (7 am to 12 pm) or afternoon (1 pm to 6 pm) classes, not both. After classes are over, you can use your free time to participate in community activities or explore Paraguayan culture with your new friends.
"Life-changing" is hard to describe, yet it’s nearly always the first thing that AFSers say when asked about their experience abroad.
"Transformed" is another one. When you return home, if you’re like most AFSers, you’ll bring with you a sense of accomplishment unlike any other. You’ll have gained maturity and independence, discovered new passions, and feel like you can do anything you set your mind to. That transformation isn’t visible only to you, though - others see it as well. AFSers gain critical skills for college and careers, ranging from language fluency to intercultural competence and critical reasoning. "Life-changing" means it’s only the beginning.
Please Note: Travel date ranges are meant to help with general scheduling and are subject to change; please don’t book any travel based on these dates until you’ve received confirmation from AFS. All programs, prices, and travel dates are subject to change without notice.