Skip to main content

This summer, eight DukeEngage students spent two months in Asunción, Paraguay working on sustainable development issues. The project involved students of various academic disciplines, including Biology, Environmental Science, Mechanical Engineering, Cultural Anthropology, and Public Policy. Dr. Christine Folch led the program with Site Coordinator Juan Carlos Dure.

Two students worked with Asociación Guyra Paraguay, a non-profit civil society organization that works to conserve and protect biological diversity and indigenous communities. Neve Greenwald and Max Wyatt describe their experience working with Guyra in the video below. Neve supported Guyra’s communication efforts with local partners alongside Max, who explored opportunities for carbon offset credits to attract investors and support Guyra’s work. Neve and Max also supported grant writing for the organization.

Alfredo Sanchez and Jack Smoot interned with Magno Linea 12, a public transportation company, conducting research and developing recommendations to transition from diesel to electric and green hydrogen buses to reduce their carbon footprint.

Students also supported grant writing and communications for Alma Cívica, an NGO that promotes democracy and civic engagement, and Fundación Moises Bertoni, a non-profit committed to the conservation and sustainable development of the country’s natural resources.

Outside of their internships, students also worked with TECHO Paraguay, a local non-profit that uses volunteer labor to build emergency housing to address Paraguay’s housing shortage. Led by a Paraguayan team, students worked from sunrise to sunset for an entire weekend with hundreds of other young people to build houses for families currently living in informal settlements.

DukeEngage Paraguay students in a team huddle
DukeEngage students in a team huddle while building houses with TECHO Paraguay.

Students also had the opportunity to attend the United Nations Global Symposium on Sustainable Water and Energy Solutions at the Itaipu Binacional Dam and energy policy discussions at the Senate of Paraguay.

DukeEngage student in front of Itaipu Binacional Dam in Paraguay
DukeEngage student Alfredo Sanchez at the Itaipu Binacional Dam for the United Nations Global Symposium on Sustainable Water and Energy Solutions.

After visiting the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura, some students made their own classical instruments from recycled materials (provided by the recyclers) found in one of the largest landfills in Paraguay. The Orchestra is made up of young people from the humble bañados (riverside informal settlements) of Asunción, who learn (and later teach) how to play instruments and perform across Paraguay and the world.

DukeEngage Paraguay students pose with musical instruments they created using recycled materials from one of Paraguay's largest landfills
DukeEngage students pose with musical instruments they created from recycled materials.

Students were even interviewed on one of Paraguay’s most important television programs, En Contexto, about their work. En Contexto is an hour-long news program hosted by two of Paraguay’s leading journalists, Luis Bareiro and Estela Ruiz Diaz. The students were interviewed in Spanish about their summer internships with DukeEngage and shared their general impressions of Paraguay’s culture and economy. Watch the full interview below: