Starting the second half at the Foundation
It took about 5 minutes to get back into the swing of things after Spring Break. Even though we have just been at the Foundation the last two days, they have both been really busy trying to knock things out on our to-do lists. Also, the internet has been working (knock on wood), so I feel like we’ve been super productive, which is great.
As I previously mentioned, I’ve taken on the role of monitoring several volunteer websites and replying to people who inquire about volunteering with Chol Chol. It hasn’t been too much work, but I had a couple messages I needed to reply to when I got back. However, Susana now completely realizes that I’m owning this process and she just went through her inbox and found a bunch of people who have emailed her directly. She just went ahead and forwarded all those messages to me and so now I’m working through all of those, haha. I actually enjoy this because some of the volunteers speak English and therefore I feel like I’m making a good difference. Also, Susana is too swamped to thoroughly reply to these, so she really enjoys that I’m taking it on. Win-win.
Sarah has shifted gears back towards the artisan videos because we just found out there is going to be another important day coming up. On May 10th, they are going to host an event and activity around “Dia de Comercio Justo” (Day of Fair Trade) which is May 11th. The Foundation plans on having an activity at a room in the Regional Museum on May 10th (that Friday) to coincide with Fair Trade Day. The WFTO does a great job of helping participating organizations stay active and relevant in their communities, arming them with posters and social media kits to participate. The theme this year is innovation, and Susana thought this would be a great opportunity to “premiere” our QR code project. So, that is the drive to have all the videos completed, uploaded to the website, and have QR codes and tags printed and ready. It’s also a good driver to have a set-in-stone date.
Also, I noticed that the small calendar whiteboard was empty which gave me the opportunity to fill in the dates of April and then to track Susana down to see what is on tap for this month. I’m a planner at heart, and so I love just putting events on calendars so that everyone is on the same page. From this exercise, we found out some interesting things that we didn’t previously know. First, we’ve known that some of the Rakisuam artisans will be traveling to Cuba later this month; however, we just found out that Susana is going with them! So Susana won’t be around from April 22-29 – that will make my job a little trickier as she is my point of contact for nearly everything (whereas Sarah can still work a lot with Yasmin). Also, since she’ll be in Cuba – she’ll have no Internet – so I already warned her that I’ll have many questions for her when she returns (PS – “Preguntas de Nick” is now a joke because I ask so many questions). Second, we found out that Friday, April 19 and Wednesday May 1 are National Holidays. Glad we found that out before we drove out to the foundation on those days haha.
Finally, thought I’d share the following little tidbit to give everyone an insight into some minor things that can get complicated when language barriers exist. Before we left for Spring Break, Sarah and I were starting to feel unsure of ourselves related to lunches. Sarah and I traditionally bring in lunch for the two of us, but we were seeing more and more that Susana, Yasmin, and Viviana were preparing and eating shared meals that they’d rotate preparing. It got to the point where they would come by and say “Comida?” and we didn’t know if that meant “hey, we’re going to have lunch now, would you like to sit down and join us and bring the food that you brought for yourself?” or if that meant “we prepared food for everyone and we’re inviting you to join us and eat this tasty meal that we prepared”. Anywho, I went out on a limb and emailed Susana to ask about how they figure it all out. Since I primarily use Google Translate for my emails, there is probably some items lost in translation, but I think she thought we were saying they were making us uncomfortable (not the point I was trying to get across haha). We were saying that we felt bad only bringing food for us, but we never know who is around and when to bring food for others, etc. We cleared things up via email and the last two days have been some good community lunches with everyone. Now we discuss the day before what people are doing so we know what we can bring.
However, yesterday, we were told that Viviana was going to make chicken for everyone, and that Sarah and I just needed to bring a side for us to eat if we wanted anything with us – so we brought some quinoa. Luckily, we brought the whole amount because we misinterpreted and they actually wanted us to make a side for everyone. Crisis averted. Tomorrow we need to bring vegetable oil and some corn (or at least we think that’s what we’re supposed to bring).
PS – Sarah and I wore the same shirt today. Whoops.