Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Getchya ´self oriented

If you want pictures, scroll down. You want information? Let's talk.

My grandma is always the first one to read our blog. No joke. She sent me an e-mail today and said, "Good post, but a little scattered." And so per her request, we´re gonna do a run down:
  1. Alumni? I thought it was you two students doing service in Ecuador...
  2. Who´s Anna?
  3. Corn-what?
  4. When did this all happen?
  5. !!!
Adam and I have been spending the last month figuring out the detailed schedules of 9 lucky alumni who dedicated this week to service through the Alumni Association and the Public Service Center. We have chosen Ecuador due to heavy D-Lab involvement (among many other reasons). A particular reason was La Anna.

Anna Waldman-Brown is a physics major at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This will be her third time to Ecuador. Last January, she was here to scout out possible partners and to build up relationships between Ecuadorian organizations and MIT. That´s where Adam I entered.

In our month of work here before the alumni arrived, we attempted to make matches between the skills of our Alumni with the needs of Kallari. It is an incredible opportunity to expose the Alumni to the complexities of international development and partnerships, which they might not have had during their time at MIT. In the words of one alum (more or less), "in my day, there was not an interest in public service. My parents did not have a stable job during the Depression, and it was instilled in me that I needed a career. We all worked for companies and didn't have the chance to really engage with the international community like you students do."

Now Anna, Adam, and I are working as a trio to coordinate the trip's service focus.

We arrived at four different project groups. Each group will develop at its own rate, brainstorm, and come up with individual deliverables. We are excited to get some professionals working alongside Kallari.

In the IT team, we have Eberhard Wunderlich who has over 20 years (humor me, I´m recalling from memory, and so it may be more) with AT&T. Vikki Auzenne at the University of Minnesota who is building an IT start-up from the ground up (and taking classes on the side, mind you!) To design an appropriate Information Technology system to fit Kallari´s current needs with recommendations for the future. If feasible this team will also look into improving the Kallari website.

The "Growth for Planning Team" is powerhoused by Roberta Pittore, a professor at the Sloan School of Management. Her specialty is negotiation which is complemented by Erika William's experience in Silicon Valley. Erika has a myriad of skills, and her particular strength in this arena is her work with small companies in growing bigger. They will be advising Kallari on possible obstacles to be expected in the future as well as mapping out preventative actions to ensure a smooth transition into the expected rapid expansion.

The "Marketing and Tourism Group" is charged with two separate and integrated goals. (1) To design and draft print a non-technical brochure, in many languages, that includes the history and goals of Kallari. This brochure will be used for general promotion during presentations and other events. (2) To research, critique, and recommend how to realistically begin Kalalri´s tourism branch as soon as possible. The team will experience many trial tours to better understand details and logistics. They've got a dynamic mixture of Richard Millman, an aerospace defense company CEO for the past few decades, Joe Levitch, PSC Leadership Council Member and human resource consultant, and Deanna Griffith, designer by day and mechanical engineerg by night!

The Community Workshop group is blessed with the sweet and feisty Robin Millman who is a life-long teacher infused with passion and endearing nutritionist, Shahla Wunderlich. They will promote better nutrition and appropriate corn shelling technologies in a hands-on workshop with representatives from Kallari communities.

Right, so... onto the pictures.

The alumni climb off the bus to go on a contextualizing, educational tour

A street in Old Quito during our town tour.

Architecture! "Some church facade. I can't remember." The alumni are really absorbing.

Our first lunch together at the Choza (the shack) where projects were passed out and the chaos exploded.

Our presentation at the Ministry of Agriculture with Engineer Juan Carlos Barrazueta was about the cacao of Ecuador in the global perspective.

A piece of art by Ecuador's most famous painter, Oswaldo Guayasamín, who painted the emotion and story of his fellow indigeous. Read more here.

After a fabulous jungle native lunch of tilapia, yucca, and plantain soup, we took a picture with the Kallari staff members. Later we split up into groups. One went to Pachamama to have an exchange of ideas and the other stayed to work with the cafe's IT and design needs.

Oh, and here's Kathryn and some kids on the streets shining her shoes. After this photo was taken, the price was raised by double.

To wrap this up... in a short sentence: There's more than meets the eye. I wish I could write more, but the night is old! More explanations to come later and later and later.