A few weeks ago, I showed the community to a friend. I knew I enjoyed my internship. But I didn’t know until today how much I really loved it.
Telling him about what MATE has done and more importantly what the community is doing on their own, made me so happy and so proud.
But it was not all smiles and pride. I was eager to inform him about the issues in the community and the history of the Guarani. But the tour also brought to light how much I still don’t know about the community and how many questions I still have to ask. Everyday I ask Claudio questions and he responds with detailed and informative answers. But I rarely ask delicate questions to my peers in the community. After working in Rwanda where we made the grave mistake of asking far too many questions, I have been very cautious to not make this mistake again. Also, I have had many insightful conversations with one of my favourite professors, Dr. Quinn and her work in Uganda where she has warned me that one must gain trust in a community where you are an outsider before asking too many questions. She has explained that any community has little reason to trust someone after there has been many broken promises. As well, I am the 17th CIDA intern that has worked in the community, therefore with such a high turnover rate, those in the community do not feel a need to become close who will leave so soon. 6 months isn’t long enough to build absolute trust but I can build relationships.
The other day, however, while walking through the community I asked Claudio my daily questions and he replied that I had been in the community for long enough that the people know me and I can begin to ask them the questions. So little by little, with respect and patience, I’ll begin.