North Texas and Paraguay a NTC Connection
At the North Texas Commission, we strive to bring our fabulous region to the world, but we also try to bring the world to North Texas. We had one such opportunity two weeks ago.
The University of Texas at Dallas hosted the Igor Pangrazio Vera Ambassador of Paraguay to explore ways that our two countries can be better connected. With our CEO Mabrie Jackson, I had a unique opportunity to meet with the Ambassador and the Dean of the School of Economics and Politics and Policy Sciences Dennis Dean. We had a fantastic conversation with the Ambassador about his time studying in the United States and how we can encourage more exchange between our two countries.
The surprise for everyone was that I spent two years living in Paraguay as a Peace Corps Volunteer prior to coming to the North Texas Commission.
Paraguay is a small country in South America, nestled between Brazil and Argentina. It boasts remarkable natural resources and wonderfully hospitable people. I felt so welcomed my entire time in Paraguay and wanted to show the same courtesy to Ambassador Pangrazio. As such, I made sure the brush up on my few words of Guarani, Paraguay’s indigenous language. Paraguay is the only country in the Americas with an indigenous language as a national language in addition to Spanish. Additionally, I made sure to bring along my Tereré, a traditional Paraguayan tea made from Yerba Mate. I drink this in the office, and it is often a point of discussion. (The discussion mostly consists of, “What is that?”) Yerba Mate is central to Paraguayan culture. It is shared amongst friends and by offering someone a drink of your tereré you can even make new friends.
Ambassador Pangrazio was a little surprised when this gringa entered the room dripping in Paraguayan pride, but it was a great chance to show his point: cultural exchange is an effective tool for creating opportunities for countries to grow together. The Ambassador spoke of his own experience living and studying in the US and the UK. He is a graduate of the University of Kansas in Lawrence and still is in contact with American families that hosted in him while living in the US. His goal is to create more opportunities for these kinds of exchanges.
I am grateful for the chance to discuss such an important topic with this remarkable group of people. It was a surreal moment to get to sit down with a leader of a country that is so near to my heart. I suppose that’s just the magic of North Texas.