Miercoles, 10 de febrero
Juli writes: As we would say in US, we spend a lot of time in a “hurry up and wait” state. In DR, you just “wait”. We arranged for a meeting with the top execs of FONDESA, the microfinance institution, at 10:00 this morning. About 5 pm yesterday, Jose Miguel came to tell us that the meeting will be at 5:00 pm instead, so we wait. The presentation for the execs will be a power point with handouts. We built the model one piece at a time, so it will “form” before their eyes. Jean has written out all the speaker notes in Spanish. I will work the projector!
We will try to organize our office stuff and pack up a bit, because tomorrow and Friday we will spend visiting all the families and credit analysts that we interviewed. We’re making up a little pamphlet for them showing them the results we found.
Jeanie adds: I feel a little frustrated that we are presenting to the top management first. I prefer to meet with the families and loan officers first—to acknowledge and honor their central role in the study AND to make sure the model accurately reflects their experience. But culturally you have to go through the “authorities”. This is one of several cultural/ethical/cognitive conflicts anyone experiences in working within another country/culture/community. In some settings this would feel like a major ethical conflict for me—here I can acknowledge and understand the cultural norms that dictate processes.
I have already mentioned some of the other surprises, cultural discomforts, and frustrations. Here are a couple of fun examples of the cognitive confusion I’ve experienced. Palm trees and mountains! Mountains have pine trees, not palms! Trying to write “January” sitting in the sun in a tank-top. At first I just couldn’t do it! I’d type/write a “J” and end up with “June”! I resorted to Spanish month names. That “problem” has eased a bit. A related brain confusion was the “late” sunrise with warm temps. We pretty much have 12 hours of day-light: 6:30 am to 6:30 pm. My life-long experience has been “still dark at 6 am = cold outside”.
There are, of course, many cultural things to notice and write about. The use of motorcycles–
As a taxi; they wait at bus/guagua stops and people hire them to take them home; or to work
Winding up, winding down, feeling a little sad.