Filed under: Paraguay
Today I have a special post in honor of my wonderful Peace Corps friend Molly, who is raising funds to create a cultural center at a historic train station in Paraguarí. Molly’s currently blogging about trains for 30 days on her blog. Today I wrote a guest post! Check it out on Molly’s blog, or read below:
When I look back throughout the span of my 24-year-old life, it’s pretty crazy to realize how much trains have influenced me culturally. Perhaps trains, or just the general form of transportation, inspired me to travel over 4,000 miles across the world to join the Peace Corps in Paraguay, where I met Molly. One thing is for certain though- trains have held a pretty important place in my heart throughout all of my major phases in life. Check some of them out below:
1) Thomas the Tank Engine
When I was a toddler, I remember getting up early every morning with my brother and sister to watch Thomas and Friends, one of our favorite television programs. My parents, obviously getting the hint that trains were our thing, bought us toy trains and tracks to play with- you know, one of those KidCraft build your own train tracks that were so popular in the 90’s. Thomas the Tank Engine, through the TV show and the toys, really taught my siblings and I the importance of sharing- which definitely proved to be key when our family grew to seven!
My brother was even Thomas the Tank Engine for Halloween! But I couldn’t find that picture, so here’s one of my Dad and us enjoying a train ride in New Jersey.
2) The Little Engine that Could
The Little Engine that Could will always remain a classic in my family. When I was a child learning how to read, The Little Engine that Could was one of my favorite books. But what did I really love best? The animated movie! I remember watching that so many times as a kid. The song “I Think I Can” was always my favorite part, and I would watch it over and over again. I believe this song definitely inspired me to never give up on my dreams. I’m sure that resilience proved key in some of my tougher moments as a Peace Corps Volunteer!
Check out the song here. This song always made me feel happy. It’s contagious!
3) Platform 9 ¾
In 1999, At age 11, I started reading Harry Potter. I never stopped until 2007, when the last book came out. I was definitely one of those hardcore fans who stood in lines for hours at every book release. I can’t even begin to describe all of the things that Harry Potter taught me, and how it influenced me growing up. Through Harry I learned leadership, the importance of friendship, and to always do the right thing. Harry Potter also brought my whole family together- each book release and movie was a right of passage. I’m really grateful to have grown up with these books, and with Platform 9 ¾.
Me visiting King’s Cross Station in London, 2009.
4. Atlas Shrugged
As a junior in college, I first read Ayn Rand’s tome Atlas Shrugged while I was in India. I ripped through the 1,000+ page book in three days. It’s a captivating tale about industrialization in the United States, and the protagonist’s attempts to keep her rail line company afloat. It’s a book about justice, honesty, and a novel that turns capitalism on its head. This book really made me think about the world in a completely different way, and changed my perspective on business, government, and philanthropy. While this book has had a lot of critical reception, it’s definitely worth a read. It was a great rite of passage into my adulthood.
5. Molly’s Train Station!
There are so many more little ways that trains have influenced me throughout my life, but I’ll leave you with the most important one: Molly’s train station in Paraguarí. The dedication and hard work that Molly has put into this project to make it happen is truly inspiring, and will have a lasting impact on her community. She inspires me to be a better person and most importantly, a better Volunteer. I feel really blessed to know Molly and see the impact her service is having on her community.
Molly and her sister Carybeth, after painting a beautiful tree in Paraguarí! They also painted on the tree the famous quote, “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” (Greek Proverb)
In Paraguay, children have not had these same cultural influences that I had growing up. By donating to Molly’s campaign, you’ll be giving them the opportunity to have a train station impact their lives. You’re not just investing in a train station- you’re investing in a place where Paraguayan children can come to read and play games, a place that will create local jobs for youth, and a place where a community can gather together to celebrate their cultural heritage.
So after counting all of my blessings by looking back on how trains have influenced my life and looking at my second home in Paraguay, I leave you with one question: How can we help trains impact and inspire theirs?
Donate to Molly’s Train Station Here.
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