Just take this stinkin’ fish

July 18, 2008 at 1:51 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I broke a cardinal (unofficial) peace corps rule this week and gave the people the proverbial fish. The artisans I’m working with were invited to a huge ten day fair in Kennedy Park in Lima where they will probably have access to the same number of tourists in 10 days as they would over several months at the museum here in Tucume. Kennedy Park is a beautiful park in the middle of the most touristy district in Lima (Miraflores), and the fair takes place during the height of the tourist season (your summer, our winter). They needed a catalogue to participate in the fair, and the one they had is a 3 on a 1-10 scale. We have discussed for months updating the catalogue, but I’ve hesitated taking charge of the project because without me, without my camera, without my computer skillz (that’s a purposeful ‘z’), they would not be able to make a catalogue or replicate what we would do together. I finally bit the bullet, and spent all last week and this week taking photos, writing up technical info sheets about each product including prices, measurements, and production capacity, and trying to write impressive and moving descriptions of the artisanal processes they use. I couldn’t send them to Lima with what they had, and time was running out, and it had to get done. I did work with two of the artisans on the information gathering portion of the project, but the majority of the ‘cutting and pasting’ was done by me. I think that companies usually hire someone to do this sort of thing, so in a way, they contracted a free fake expert to make a catalogue for them. Hopefully next time around they will have enough savings to hire someone (who actually knows what they are doing) to help them.

They warned us about this in training; often it will be significantly easier to accomplish something alone, than with two, three, or more people helping you out. Fight the urge, they told us. I guess I finally caved. I felt so accomplished and so quickly! Its amazing how long things take when you are collaborating and teaching and helping but *not* doing. When I was in middle school, I used to go to the local elementary school once a week to give homework help, and some of my work here is oddly reminiscent of those tutoring days. It requires an unbelievable amount of patience, especially when the solution or resolution is right there within your grasp, but you have to sit back and urge urge urge someone else to work towards it.

However, the infrequent and sometimes nearly imperceptible successes are real feel-good moments. It is an entirely different form of satisfaction than the one you get from the more tangible accomplishments. I’m hoping to have more of those as I move into my second year. So bring on the fishing lessons.

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