During this internship, I assumed I would learn great skills of resiliency, cultural sensitivity, and workshop facilitation. Never did I think learning to paint and garden would be new skills for my CV.
The Inter-American Foundation donated a large sum of money to the community to assist with the establishment of their tourism company. After six months of funding, they gave the community a new goal. By Easter week (its an entire week here!) the company must have their grand inauguration. That means the visitor’s center must be complete, everyone’s roles must be officially decided, and – although not perfect – complete tours must be able to run. The coordinator of the project planned a calendar of tasks to be completed each week. This means on top of regular meetings and my workshops at the escuelita we now work Monday through Friday every morning until siesta. We have planted several garden beds and now are painting the visitors center.
I’ve never done physical labor before. Yes, I vacuumed and dusted my parents’ home for an allowance as a youngster, but I had a cushy lifeguard job every summer and worked for my university during the school year. I have gained so much appreciation for those who do physical labor for a living.
As I am not particularly skilled in using a machete to cut old trees, or particularly tall to reach the heights of the visitors center, I am kind of the handygirl. Wheel barrel runs, taping electrical outlets, and planting flowers are my synonymous with ‘diana.’ But I still feel like my little bit of help is helping to create this beautiful place and I feel a part of the team. More importantly, there is a team!
Earlier in my internship it was often a struggle to gather everyone to have a company meeting, but now every morning at 830am our group is there. I think it is that the group is now seeing results; its not just a nice idea, far into the future. They know the realistic steps of reaching the goal and understand the outcome more.
And our 10:30 sandwich and Mate break, definitely help in creating this team too.