Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Work Environment

Hi everyone,

Nothing too exciting happened over the weekend, so I think I'll take this time to discuss what it's like to actually work in an environment like this.

But first, I did go to the beach this weekend, which was fun as always. I will miss being only a twenty minute drive away from the beach! I will not miss, however, sticking out like a sore thumb on public transportation. When I got on a camioneta (coolest form of transportation ever--a pick-up truck with a tarp over it!), everyone was like, "look at the china, there's a china, what's that china doing on here?" But whatever, I just try to be as nice as possible and remember that they don't see Asian people very often, and they don't mean offense by calling people by their skin color, race, etc. They call our Nicaraguan friend Chino because his eyes are kind of small.

It's kind of difficult to work here sometimes because our office is very crowded. It's hard to explain the feeling of not being able to find what you want, but not really needing the same things you need at home. No amazon.com here. You just kind of accept the fact that you can't find everything here in Leon. A lot of things are in Managua, but Managua is a two hour commute, so we don't go there very often. It's frustrating to have big bills and know that you can't use them at certain places because they won't have change. We end up paying for one another and then paying each other back later, simply because we know a place will not accept our C$500 bill. The first time we went to the grocery store, we were like, wow, this place doesn't have anything! But now I feel like the grocery store has so much because I'm comparing it to what I can get on the street. Everything is relative.

We went to the community on Thursday. I've begun teaching English classes. It's ok. It's difficult because the children do not have text books or notebooks or pens. They have what we have brought. So we have to take the pens and notebooks back at the end of the class. They kind of steal things from us, like paper, but I don't blame them, so it's hard to care. Though we have to because we have limited funds to buy new things. A highschool group of kids came and brought the children a pinata, so we had a little party for them. When the pinata broke, they all practically killed each other for a piece of candy. It kind of made me upset. We also brought coloring books for them and the kids ripped out pages to take home with them so that they would have something later. That also made me upset. It's not something I haven't seen before, as I did similar work when I was in Argentina. But it's unsettling to know that kids in the US would be indifferent to a coloring book after awhile, and parents end up throwing them away after the kids neglect them. Here, every last page will be colored, and there won't be enough pages to go around. There is a library for them there, and I'm not exaggerating when I say that there are MAYBE 20 books in it. Additionally, they were donated, so a lot of them are in English, so they can't even read them. It's hard not to just cry there. Everything looks kind of normal (albeit, poor), but there's something dark and sad going on there. Seventy percent of the population is dying of kidney disease, an incredibly treatable disease in the developed world. In this sense, my work here is hard. It's emotionally draining and at times feels very pointless.

The heat has become much more bearable. I thought it was cooler the past few days, but when I checked the weather, it has still been in the 90s...I'm just used to it finally. I no longer sweat all day long--just in the hottest part of the day when I'm in the direct sun. It's all relative!

For the first time, we had a long power and water outage in the same week. It's kind of just whatever. It was annoying, of course, but it's not like it was enough to ruin our day. We are really conscious of our energy and water usage anyway, so it didn't have a huge impact on us.

Working here has a lot of frustrations for other reasons, as well. We are a group of very young individuals. The oldest person is 34. Most of us are students or very young professionals. It's kind of difficult for me because I crave structure and order at work. Well, here it's very tranquilo. We are kind of making it up as we go along. Everyone is very hard-working and intelligent, but sometimes I'm just like, "UGH," because I want shit done like yesterday. Everyone works 40 hours a week or more. And, don't forget, everyone is working for free. That's the craziest part of all.

I would absolutely recommend that everyone work in an environment like this. I think my experiences in Nicaragua from before made me appreciate the things I have in the US much more. I just think people would be much better working with what they have if they were used to working with so much less. And we wouldn't bitch about so much.

I just wish everyone could understand what I am seeing every day. It's part of the reason I haven't really taken any pictures. I want to show you all what the market looks like or what a crowded bus/camioneta/shitty cab looks like here, but I'm not going to be that gringa that takes pictures of people living their everyday lives. And it's not just about seeing it--it's about actually understanding what is there in front of you and why it is the way it is. Why don't they have addresses or street names here? Because of shitty governance. Now tell me the government should stay out of our lives. Please. When the government doesn't give a shit, this is what happens. Everything goes to hell. Now, that's not to say that I want our government in every aspect of our lives, but I think people are being a little naive and misguided when they say big government is bad. The things we debate in US politics are just absolutely ridiculous. There are bigger things to worry about. And we have so much power to use for good, which we don't, because we are too busy debating about fucking hanging chads and keeping our own citizens from exercising the right to marry!

Well, anyway, that's what I wanted to write about this week. Hopefully next weekend I'll have done something more exciting to tell you all about! Until then.

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