We ended up not travelling for a couple of weeks because the minister of education has asked that all his teachers (24,000) in and around the city be trained as facilitators of the Round Table – doing it first with the staff and then taking it into the classrooms. Since we are in winter here teachers are still working, they have December/January off for their summer break. Mike is doing two – 3 hour trainings per day with an occasional evening training at the Columbia University for other groups at night. He is working hard! Sometimes there are perks like being invited to the tennis club for their Friday night BBQ, or treated to dinner by the owners of a restaurant. There is always something going on.
We were invited to the graduation of Anna & Julio’s son Lucas at the private American Christian School here. Anna is a professional interpreter (among other things) and interpreted for John Maxwell when he was here. Julio is a surgeon and they are founding members of Transformation Paraguay. They have also become good friends and we were honoured to be invited to Lucas’ grad. Lucas is going to be a doctor like his father and grandfather before him. Nice to know at an early age what you are going to do in life! Lucas is a bright spot, personable, great conversationist, smart and speaks perfect English. We are very impressed with him. His older sister Daniela is in university and works part-time at the Transformation office. She came with us to Ohio last March to be trained as a GPS specialist.
There were several Korean students at this graduation. Funny to see the Koreans speaking flawless Spanish! Korean families came to Paraguay when it was still under the dictatorship of Stroessner. The story we heard was that Stroessner offered them on the spot visas and the lure that it was easy to get into the U.S. from Paraguay. After looking it up on the internet I saw no reference to the latter but did read that there are no restrictions for foreign companies when buying land here. Today, 40 years later, many of the families have moved on to Brazil, Argentina, the U.S. or back to Korea but there is still a small Korean community living and doing business here.
Patricia Urbieta owns and runs the Columbia University where Mike does a lot of trainings. She and her family have become great friends and she is always opening classrooms to host another group. Her grandfather founded the University 73 years ago. It had its beginnings in a tiny rented space in town with only one student. At that time the typewriter was a new invention and Grandpa knew how to repair them as well as how to type! He was one step ahead of most people with that knowledge so he opened a school to teach typing and supplemented his income by doing repairs and maintenance. That one student grew to two, then four then twenty. Next he added secretarial skills and attracted a lot of the elite young women of his day enabling him to move into better facilities. Accounting and English were next bringing in more students – and the rest is history.
Fast forward to today and you have a beautiful University that is open from 7:00am to 10:00pm six days a week. 4,000 students make their way in and out of the classrooms on a daily basis. In the central square are a variety of very large trees, mango and others that during their season drop their fruit – you have to really be careful and cover your head because the fruit drops from the top of the tree about 3 stories high and can really give you a nasty bump on the head. There are all kinds of other trees too, banana and various citrus trees and a lots of plants all labeled with paths winding throughout. A really lovely place to study. I’ve written about Patricia and her family before, if you missed my previous blogs you can go to ‘Stories’ and ‘Getting Personal’ to read more.
In Patricia’s office Mike spent the day filming a series of instructional videos to be put on the website for those in the future to watch and understand the method and goal of the Round Table.
After having a couple big kick-off events in the city with John Maxwell, we are now doing the follow-up by travelling throughout the country. We’re training business and government employees who were not involved in the initial blitz and ensuring that all areas of the country have been afforded the opportunity to be involved. The next phase is to get as many people as possible doing the RT, changing themselves, and as a result changing their nation. A big job and a lofty goal that we are doing our best to make a reality through whatever means possible.