Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ecuador, Day 8

It seems there is no rule that says a travel day can't be longer than 24 hours. It's already March 18 but I haven't slept more than an hour or two since yesterday morning so it sure feels like just one long day.

Our big presentation yesterday at the University went well. We had a good turnout & a good PowerPoint, thanks mostly to the efforts of Jeff & Sonja. People seemed interested, there were plenty of questions, & the Rector assigned some solid tasks & timelines. The translating seemed to work out OK. It was definitely a good move to have our primary handout & the presentation in both English & Spanish. A new program -- & especially a new program concept -- is confusing enough without adding the complexity of language.

After the presentation, a few of us stayed behind to talk about how the field work component could work best. This was a very interesting discussion. Because the program is so short, each student will be in the field for only a short while; probably somewhere between 2 & 4 weeks. How can we cultivate a trusting, productive relationship with communities when students are coming & going like popcorn? We talked about criteria for community selection, identification by the community of significant issues in which each student could build on the work of others, & the intense need for coordination to make sure this happens. There are so many issues to consider & we are lucky to have people on the ground in Ecuador who can help us to understand what's needed.

I started heading for home almost right after lunch. It was so hot in Guayaquil that it did not occur to me to remove my jacket, sweater, slacks & socks from my suitcase before checking it through. Now I am sitting in Calgary airport, awaiting my last flight, but considerably underdressed considering that it's barely +3 outside. My journey so far has been relatively uneventful except for being processed through the extreme drug & security checkpoints at Bogota airport. My oh my, I would not want to have so much as an aspirin out of place there!

It's been a great trip. We did a lot of work & I believe we have left the project somewhat more moved-ahead than when we arrived. Learning more about sustainability in general, getting familiar with the project specifically, doing the community visit to Dos Mangas, working with great people... the icing on the cake.

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