Let me set the stage for what we were dealing with just about 24 hours ago...It was around 2:30 in the afternoon. Everyone that was invited to the event had confirmed, tents were being put up and everything seemed to be somewhat in order, (as much in order as it could be because really ANYTHING can happen at the last minute). The only thing that we were missing were the 200 certificates to be signed by Sonia, the director.
We had talked with her about doing a certificate with the name written by hand because not all of the institutions had turned in their lists of who would be participating. She gave us the ok, so wednesday I WROTE OUT 200 NAMES BY HAND on the certificates!!!!! They looked great, on this nice certificate paper, printed in color and all that jazz.
Then at 2:30 we got the message that literally made all of the work seem to come crashing down. Sonia wrote to Fernanda, saying that the certificates looked awful and that they needed to be done with the names typed on the computer because there was no way that we could hand out the certificates with names written out by hand.....mmmm WHAT!?!?
I told Fernanda it was ridiculous and of course she agreed, so we went to talk to Sonia in person. I explained to her that usually when you get something hand written it is more personal than just typed up on the computer and that it would be really hard to do all of them over because it had taken over a day to get them signed and what not....after all the event was in LESS THAN 24 HOURS!!!!
She responded by telling me that this was my point of view and that the University does everything of great quality blah blah blah and that people will take the certificate and remember the event and if it's written by hand they will think less of the University...Have you started to think she is crazy...?? ok good :)
There was no way around it, either we changed them, or she would not turn in the certificates. And because this country IS SO OBSESSED with their certificates, it would have not been fair to tell these professional institutions that we were no longer going to give the certificates..so we went back to the office and printed out new certificates....
Were they of better quality, ABSOLUTELY NOT...sadly they were printed out in this shiny blue paper, in black because all the color tinta had been used up....but Im sure everyone was happier because their names were typed...right??
So I left work on Thursday around 7 pm...completely exhausted from the day, but hopeful that friday would turn out well..
So today was one of the most important days that I've had here in Ecuador in terms of work. After planning for over 2.5 months we finally had our event for World Aid's Day, at the University. Everyone but one group showed up to present in their stands. There were University kids and high school kids that came to see the different tents!! I am proud to say that Fernanda and I did a superb job with carefully planning and executing our goal of a Mass Event on Campus, along with launching our sexual health program "Por Mil Motivos". The two of us really could not have done it without each other, lol. Seeing as we were really the only two behind the project and MINIMAL from our co-workers at the University. I think we really did surprise them, see young people can do great things!! Although I do have to say this will be the FIRST and LAST time that I do an event like this at the University.
Ecuadorian behaviors and culture were highly reflected in this whole process. From the very beginning I learned that you have to be 100% behind people making sure that they get done what has to get done. You can't trust people to take responsibility for their part, as small as it may be. Anything that the authority says goes, no matter how much blood and sweat you've put into the work, and there is no room for discussion. Sadly people do not seem to rebel..haha Those would be the negatives. The positive of this experience is Fernanda, the girl that I worked on with the project. She truly is the hope for the behavior change that needs to happen. In Peace Corps we talk about change at a local small level and I am glad to know and see that Fernanda is on that path to being a positive influence in what at times seems like the scum of it all. My job here is to support her and empower her to be more affirmative and push for what she believes...Times ticking, only 8 months left!!!