Festival Preps

January 16, 2008 at 8:36 pm | Posted in dancing, friends, party, teaching, tourism | 1 Comment

The big party is about to get going here in Tucume. According to townspeople, men and women from all over the world to come and experience the joys of the Tucume fiesta. I believe this will be much like other Peruvian fiestas; religious undertones, children doing cute stuff, drunk people, cumbia ’till you drop, etc. I’m excited though, I’m going to be the co-MC of a concurso de Tondero, which is a competition of a typical Peruvian dance. I’m MC-ing with the same guy who did the Miss Inikuk competition; apparently I wowed him with my near-speechlessness at the last big event, and he asked me to be his co-animadora. Here’s hoping he doesn’t talk more about the English and the Native Americans.

I’m also helping to plan a “Noche de Folklore” with the Casa de Cultura (house of culture) which is coming up next week. We have invited singers and dancers from around the region to come and perform. Interestingly enough, most of the meetings to plan these events revolve around finding ways to fund them. Most of the groups who put them on are doing it, in part, to fund their own organizations. None, however, has saved up enough to actually prepare for the event, so everyone is scraping around for dollah dollah billz.

I started teaching my English classes last week and will go ahead and toot my own horn and say that I did awesome. Not to say that anyone learned anything, but at least we had fun. No, I do think some good Engreesh was learned by at least a few. I’ve also gotten started on a big and not-so-fun project that involves entering every sale the artisans have made over the last three years into a database to eventually be able to analyze their sales, their goods, their prices, etc. Oh excel, how I’ve missed you. I need the data soon to be able to get some potential financial backing, which is why I’m doing this myself. I hope, in a few months, to teach some excel to the artisans so they can continue on without me, because that is how I roll. It will make everyone’s life so much easier, and the museum just purchased a new computer that we can use which is helpful.

Yeah, so, life is good. It is hot here, and I have grown to love the cold showers. I still hate dogs, and while I usually still really like doing my laundry, sometimes I don’t like it. My dainty little hands get rubbed raw, but I continue to find it quite relaxing.

Happy Birthday(s) to my Nana and my Pammy— two of the most beautiful ladies I know.

Dany gets her Groove Back

October 22, 2007 at 8:52 pm | Posted in friends, micronegocios, Peace Corps, teaching | 4 Comments

The title of this entry refers to the fact that I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately regarding my service. Mostly this derives from the fact that two of my closest friends from training went home about three weeks ago, which was, frankly, really upsetting. Additionally, the abundance of down-time, and my inability to be immediately effective, especially compared to my last job, has finally hit me. I’m still getting used to it – I feel guilty when I spend two hours of an afternoon reading a book. I had anticipated this, but am nevertheless still dealing with it mentally and emotionally. However, ever since my trip to Lima, things have been on the up and up. For one, spending time with good friends was a big plus. Additionally, the fact that the fair was such a success for my group and for me was another boon to the old heart and mind.

Today I had a day-long meeting with the artisans. It was a good lesson in Peruvian-reunion-protocol, as people trickled in around 10:15 for a meeting scheduled for 9:00am, and only half the group showed. Nevertheless, it was a successful, but long meeting. Relevant points were, for one, upcoming fairs, as well as personal and association-wide accounting, marketing, and English classes. We have now committed to four fairs in the next four weeks, all of which I’ll be attending. One is 20 minutes away in Lambayeque, the other 20 minutes in the other direction in Jayanca, one right here in Tucume, and the last in Lima. I made a small dent in what will come to be, I believe, one of my most tasking projects here in explaining that they need to smooth out their accounting process. They have a system, and it gets the job done, but it is SO haphazard, and to any outsider it looks completely disorganized. If they are going to be investing more in fair/exposition attendance, they need to be a lot more organized with their money because these things are costly. We spoke as well about their marketing, with two important suggestions. One, I thought it might be a good idea to put together some sort of book or catalogue that details with pictures their process of production. Everything is handmade, but some of it is so well-done, it looks machine made. It would be nice for gringos like me to be able to see some sort of documentation of the process and what goes into making the products. As well, I asked that they include some pictures of their products being utilized in the home. Sometimes a tourist or buyer needs a little inspiration given the products we have, and if they could see it in someone else’s home, maybe it will help them visualize where it might go in their own abode.

So, these are the sorts of things I’m helping with, at least at present. As I’ve said, they are already formalized, they already have great products. They are not, however, ready for exportation. The little steps in-between are where I’m trying to help with outside-of-the-Peruvian-box ideas (though things that may be obvious to the reader). As they become more organized, more well-known, and save more money, we can start thinking about exportation but I don’t see that happening for at least another six months to a year. Maybe more, I’m a newborn at this stuff. To aid in this, I’m going to put together a little presentation about personal accounting, because I have a sneaking suspicion that a few of the artisans might actually be losing money with the way they run their system now. I’m also going to try to throw something together about marketing, to try to squeeze more ideas out of them, so I’m not supplying all the brain juice in this operation.

Oh, so the last thing we talked about were English classes which we will start in January three times a week for three hours a session. I think I need to start preparing NOW for this, because I have no idea how I’m going to fill nine hours a week of lessons. I guess I’ll start where I always start: with a little “baruch atah adonai, please don’t let me be a complete failure at teaching English to grown-ups, Amen.”

A Very Charlie Brown October

October 8, 2007 at 9:47 pm | Posted in dancing, kids, music, pictures, teaching | 1 Comment

I finally took my camera out to the casario I’ve been working in. This week we taught German; we’ve been switching off every week, but I think next week when I get back from Lima we might just separate and teach both languages and then switch classrooms. We are going to try it and see how it goes. In any case, now I’m learning a little German as well as continuing with my Spanish. I put some pictures up of the classrooms on my picasa site, as well as some shots of a windmill where the town gets their water from. The windmill was broken when I took the shots and the town hadn’t had water for two days! They store some water in big trash-bin-like containers for situations like that so I believe that is what they were using. There was an anniversary last week so after classes there were some games and some dancing. I took a short video of the kids dancing, and it really reminds me of a Charlie Brown cartoon for some reason. How adorable are these kids:


I really am loving teaching out there. I also spent a few days last week working side by side with one of the artisans who makes pressed aluminum products, check it out:

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!!!!! I made that! It may look easy, but it was all done by hand, the design, everything. No mold, no nothing – it was really difficult. If you look closely enough at the picture you can probably see a ton of imperfections. The artisan I was working with makes them perfectly and in the time it took me to make one, she made ten. It was a really great learning experience and I’m proud of what I made. The box came ready made but I stained and shined it to get it ready for the shelves. Then I pasted on the aluminum piece I had worked on. Then she gave it to me as a gift! So I have it sitting next to my computer right now as I type, to remind myself that I’m not all numbers and geekage.

Today I went out with Jessica to visit a farm of a nearby family; the sister of the woman she is living with. It was so incredibly beautiful, it almost makes me regret not choosing a more ‘campo’ site. It was so peaceful, calm, and natural. They raise cuyes, pigs, ducks, chickens, and grow rice and sugar cane. It was a family of 8, one of the boys passed away a few years ago, and of the remaining children, five were girls who all married and moved away. Now just two boys live there with their mom and they manage the farm. I think they have either 15 or 30 hectares, I heard both numbers. I didn’t want to leave! I do really love my site, and as far as work goes there is a lot more to do where I’m living now than out there, but it was still a revitalizing way to spend a Monday.

Tomorrow I’ll head to the museum to help the artisans pick out the products they want to sell at the fair on Friday and on Wednesday night I head out for Lima, where I’ll be until Sunday.

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