Gustavo passing third grade was tangible evidence that my time in Paraguay has made a difference. Last fall when I learned that Gustavo was going to be repeating third grade again I started to worry that he would ever be able to move forward in his studies. I saw him eventually not finishing school because it would become too frustrating and the demand to start work and make money for his family would become more important, leaving him illiterate. I took it upon myself the task of helping him pass.
I brought books to his house and started to read with him almost every week. It was challenging at first. I started to realize that perhaps the reason that Gustavo couldn’t read is because he has dyslexia. I asked fellow volunteers that have dyslexia tips for teaching him to read. It was not only the teaching I did, but also the access to books. Reading became something fun that Gustavo and I got to do together. A couple of months into the school year Gustavo started to tell me that his teacher was noticing the difference in his reading level, and a couple of more months later he told me that he read the bible at the community mass, something a few months earlier he refused to do.
It’s hard to say that my reading with Gustavo is the reason that he passed, but I would like to say that it played a part. As Peace Corps volunteers we constantly question whether our efforts make a difference and we don’t often get to see results. I know that I made a difference in at least one life in Paraguay. Gustavo will enter the 4th grade next year and I helped him get there.