Full disclosure: I’m a dreamer. I like to think about the future and make several, multifaceted plans about where I want to end up and how to get there. I like to make plans, but I’m always happy to change and revise them whenever I learn something new or gain new insight.
As you might imagine, as a dreamer, I like to talk to other people about their goals and aspirations. Because of this, I often find myself struggling to connect to young Paraguayans. Many of the young people I talk to here don’t dream big.
During training we did this activity that is an interview with yourself in 10 years. The idea of the activity is that one person pretends to be a reporter and asks you about what your life will be like in 10 years. I modified that and started asking young people where they see their lives in 5 years. I thought it might be a fun conversation starter.
I was wrong. The 5-year question usually yields a very short answer. The youth I have ask say the following: 1) a house, 2) a stable job, 3) a boyfriend/girlfriend, 4) children, 5) a car. Now, any of those individual topics could be interesting, but the response is usually that brief and in list form. When asked what kind of job, the respondent often shrugs. When asked about their house, boyfriend/girlfriend, or children the answer is equality nondescript. One interesting tidbit: Often the respondents think they will have children, but aren’t sure if they’ll be married. They sometimes have a plan for how they are going to get all the things on that list, but always.
I used to find myself sad that the people I talked to didn’t have big dreams, but then I wondered why I was sad because they were probably happy with what they were doing and where they were going. It’s hard to not make assumptions and project your beliefs on others. Living in a different culture makes in unavoidably obvious how different each person sees the world.