Kansas and Paraguay Chapters Strengthen Communities During COVID-19 and Beyond

Author: 
Chapter Members from Comité Paraguay Kansas and the Kansas Paraguay Partners
 
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The Comité Paraguay Kansas (CPK) and Kansas Paraguay Partners (KPP) Chapters of Partners of the Americas are developing new ways to support activities and strengthen communities during the pandemic and beyond.  
 
University Linkage
  1. A major program of KPP & CPK gives access to universities in Kansas to Paraguayans. Recently, more than 150 students were enrolled in six or more campuses. Strategies are being developed to assist students who remain in Kansas. 
  2. CPK closely monitors the news from governments and universities about COVID-19 in Kansas to share with students and their parents in Paraguay. We are waiting on decisions about classes for the fall semester. 
  3. CPK remains in contact with international student coordinators at each university to make sure Paraguayan students who stayed in Kansas are safe and have a place to live after university campuses closed. 
  4. CPK worked closely with the Paraguayan Consulate in Washington to develop a current list of students who stayed in Kansas and identified those who had decided to return to Paraguay. Students were finally able to return home on a humanitarian flight on April 2, 2020. 
  5. KPP and CPK are considering redirecting a bilateral pair of annual scholarships.   
Paraguay 
Significant revenue for CPK comes from services and seminars that are typically in-person. CPK is establishing new strategies to continue promoting programs in Kansas universities by hosting webinars, meetings, and interviews with prospective students by Zoom, Skype, and social media. Previously, many of these were in-person fairs and meetings. CPK services to students in Kansas and Paraguay continue by email and phone calls as staff members work from their homes. 
 
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Mutual support 
CPK is also looking into necessities that Paraguay is encountering in the common (Kindergarten-12) education area, with schools closed and classes continuing online at every school level. Online education was rare in Paraguay before the COVID-19 pandemic. Now teachers are learning new ways of teaching as students are getting used to new ways of learning.  
 
To support this, CPK is working with universities in Kansas to develop training for teachers in online education. KPP collaborators are also connecting education professionals and consultants in Kansas. So far, 677 educators have participated in webinars and short trainings offered by CPK and Kansas universities. 
 
Options are being considered for KPP to loan money to CPK in order to retain staff and activities. 
  
Kansas 
Kansas Paraguay Partners (KPP) has members near most of the collaborating campuses. They are identifying ways to assist Paraguayan students. Examples include helping students with getting food and masks.   
 
Some KPP board meetings were already shifting to online platforms like Zoom due to winter road conditions. Now, these online events are happening more, including having meetings with CPK. Conversations continue to identify ways to support each other as situations unfold. Relationships forged through more than 50 years of collaboration are empowering and gratifying in these current challenges. 
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