2007.01.18: January 18, 2007: Headlines: COS - Paraguay: Winston-Salem Journal: Matthew Wayne Weavil spent two years in the village of Vargas Loma in Paraguay as a Peace Corps Volunteer

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Paraguay: Peace Corps Paraguay: The Peace Corps in Paraguay: 2007.01.18: January 18, 2007: Headlines: COS - Paraguay: Winston-Salem Journal: Matthew Wayne Weavil spent two years in the village of Vargas Loma in Paraguay as a Peace Corps Volunteer

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Matthew Wayne Weavil spent two years in the village of Vargas Loma in Paraguay as a Peace Corps Volunteer

Matthew Wayne Weavil spent two years in the village of Vargas Loma in Paraguay as a Peace Corps Volunteer

"I lived in a community of 300 people," he said. "It was about 100 houses. Everybody lived about a quarter-mile apart. The village has one main road that went through it. We had one little store that sold basic stuff like rice and pasta and toilet paper. There was one school there, and kids from neighboring communities came there. We had one church." It was a two-hour walk to get to the closest paved road. Weavil had taken Spanish but communication was still a challenge: the people in the village spoke Guarani, an indigenous language. "They speak elementary Spanish," he said. "With them, I carried on most conversations in Spanish." Weavil had a bicycle, but usually walked to get around. He stayed with a local family until he was able to build himself a house. "I've done construction here - it was a job I had in high school - but this was totally different," Weavil said. "It was mud brick. There was a guy in the neighboring community - I got him to make the bricks for me. The shingles and the bags of cement were the only things we had to buy."

Matthew Wayne Weavil spent two years in the village of Vargas Loma in Paraguay as a Peace Corps Volunteer

Life Lessons: UNCC grad continued his education in the Peace Corps

By Wesley Young
JOURNAL REPORTER

KERNERSVILLE - No one can say Matthew Wayne Weavil lacks experience now. Weavil graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2003 with a degree in political science and international studies.

When he went to Washington looking for work, he ran into that problem that has bedeviled many graduates.

"I went up there looking for work and without experience, no one would talk to you," Weavil said.

Weavil turned to the Peace Corps, which sends volunteers to other countries to help the people who live there. The Peace Corps was undergoing an expansion in the wake of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and that gave volunteers many options.

Weavil chose to go to Latin America because that region was the focus of his studies.

Weavil, 26, has returned to Kernersville after spending two years in the village of Vargas Loma in Paraguay.

"I lived in a community of 300 people," he said. "It was about 100 houses. Everybody lived about a quarter-mile apart. The village has one main road that went through it. We had one little store that sold basic stuff like rice and pasta and toilet paper. There was one school there, and kids from neighboring communities came there. We had one church."

It was a two-hour walk to get to the closest paved road.

Weavil had taken Spanish but communication was still a challenge: the people in the village spoke Guarani, an indigenous language.

"They speak elementary Spanish," he said. "With them, I carried on most conversations in Spanish."

Weavil had a bicycle, but usually walked to get around. He stayed with a local family until he was able to build himself a house.

"I've done construction here - it was a job I had in high school - but this was totally different," Weavil said. "It was mud brick. There was a guy in the neighboring community - I got him to make the bricks for me. The shingles and the bags of cement were the only things we had to buy."

Until the house was finished, Weavil lived with Luis and Maria Gonzalez, who had agreed to be Weavil's contact when he arrived.

The village has electricity and a communal water supply. The main crop grown by the residents is cotton, although everyone grows corn as well.

Weavil said he decided to work with the farmers on soil quality.

"I walked house to house and talked to farmers in the community," he said. "We organized a farmers' meeting at the church. We brainstormed to find out the community's needs."

The villagers always plant in the same field, Weavil said.

"So we were trying to figure out how to better their soil," he said. "We decided to go house to house and do farm diagrams and practice crop rotation."

Weavil was used to hunting rabbits back home, so that gave him the idea of introducing rabbit breeding to the village. Weavil and the villagers built rabbit boxes and obtained some rabbits.

Weavil discovered that the women of the village didn't have much to do in a society dominated by the men. So he formed a women's committee that came up with the idea of making soap.

"We also had a whole bunch of cooking classes," he said. "I really like to cook. The cooking and the rabbits I personally enjoyed doing since I found a way for my interests to match up with theirs."

Building trust took time, Weavil said.

"By the end, I would like to think that I was a friend and a member of the community," he said. "Someone down there asked me to be their child's godfather. I lot of people didn't understand why I would give up the United States to come to Paraguay."

Weavil is busy catching up with friends and enjoying home cooking, said Randy Weavil, his dad.

"He has seen the modest way of living to make everything count," said Randy Weavil, a police lieutenant in Winston-Salem "He has learned some humble living. He has seen a lot of the world - a lot more than his dad has seen. It is a good experience for him."

Wesley Young can be reached at 992-0067 or at wyoung@wsjournal.com.




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Story Source: Winston-Salem Journal

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