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COVID-19 is an unforeseen humanitarian crisis. It affects livelihoods of people across the socioeconomic spectrum by compromising established systems: economic, educational, and medical. For the next two months, our seven-student undergraduate team will investigate how the pandemic has impacted and will continue to effect Paraguayan public policies. Our ultimate goal is to advise community partners in Paraguay— in both the public and private sector— on effective and culturally sensible ways to adapt to the post-pandemic era.

During our first week of work, we conducted research on Latin America to understand the broader context of Paraguay’s case. We each presented on several countries’ political climate, COVID-19 numbers and facts, and domestic crises that have arisen from the virus. There is not a ‘one-stop’ place online that explains each Latin American country’s COVID-19’s response strategy, so our first deliverable product will be a website— hopefully one which will serve as a widely-used resource— with important comparative data.

Our DukeEngage experience is modified from the pilot DukeEngage Itaipú. Before the pandemic, we planned to research the potential for development and growth for Paraguay and Brazil, given the countries’ complex energy politics. While the theme I described in the preceding paragraphs seems to have diverged, there is almost certainly potential for Paraguay’s hydroelectric resources to help the country adapt to changing circumstances.

Even though we are not on the ground in Paraguay, I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of such a cohesive DukeEngage team and foresee a meaningful experience. As a Latin American history and Spanish double major, the modified DukeEngage is still the perfect opportunity for me to ‘geek-out’ and work with brilliant people based in the United States and Latin America.