Friday, June 17, 2011


Though we still haven’t scheduled any of our official community visits, yesterday morning, as two women from the San Juan la Laguna cooperative came in to the office for a meeting, Darcy and I found ourselves scrambling to gather our materials for interviews that we had definitely not anticipated conducting.

These first interviews were a definite learning experience for both of us. Though the women were open to talking with us about their lives and their products, both expressed concern that they wouldn’t be able to answer the questions correctly, and were shy and quiet with their responses. And while both women did speak Spanish, their command of the language was somewhat limited, making it difficult for Darcy and I to understand some of their answers. Finally, we realized that while many of our questions made sense on paper, they were more difficult to comprehend when asked out loud in an interview setting, and their answers to the questions didn’t always yield the type of information we were expecting. After we thanked the women for their time, Darcy and I spent the rest of the afternoon poring over our questionnaires, asking ourselves which questions we could remove, what questions we were leaving out, and what modifications we could make to the questions to make them easier to understand, less formal, and more conducive to conversation and open answers. 

This morning, we were lucky enough to have the opportunity to try out our new and improved interview questionnaires with two women from the Lajuj I’x group in Vasconcelos – one of the four OB groups that Nest has worked with in the past. These interviews went MUCH better – our questions facilitated much easier conversations, and the women we interviewed were so friendly and helpful. We still weren’t able to get as much tangible data from the interviews as we had hoped, though. For one thing, it was hard to get specific answers to our questions, and many of the answers the women gave were overly general and focused overwhelmingly on giving thanks to OB and the workshops and training that the organization has provided. In the future, we’re hoping to elicit more “real” stories out of the testimonials – stories about the women’s lives, challenges, accomplishments, and goals – and we need to work out a way to either reformat our questions or modify how we conduct our interviews to get this information. Regarding our production guide interviews, a concern that we had both today and yesterday was over terminology, as there were many names of raw materials, techniques, or tools that we simply did not understand. The OB facilitators have been able to help us clarify some of this, but we're also planning on doing some background research on how different products are made so we have a general idea of what the women are taking about when they walk us through the process.

But overall, this was a very successful end of the week, and it’s a relief to really get the ball rolling on some of these projects. This weekend, Darcy and I are heading back across the lake to San Pedro to hike up the volcano (!!!) which should be incredibly exciting. And now it looks like we’ll also be starting some community visits early next week!

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