Saturday, July 19, 2008

Day 6 - Getting to know Boston

Having made it through the first week of IDDS unbowed and unscathed the participants were given the chance this weekend to travel around Boston and Cambridge. On Saturday we gave them the choice between a trip to the Boston Harbour Islands and a tour of Downtown Boston. Amy told us she had been expecting maybe a group of five or ten for the trip but ended up with a crowd of thirty or forty! By all accounts the group had a thoroughly enjoyable day, with kayaking, acrobatics on the beach, boat trips and swimming all on the agenda.

Miguel and Tombo act out a scene from a popular movie

The group gear up for some kayaking!

The rest of the participants went on a tour of Downtown Boston led by Mary Hong and Crossman. Bernard Kiwia from Tanzania was among the participants to attend this activity and was fascinated by the street performers he saw in the city centre. He even picked up a CD of some musicians using bamboo sticks to modulate sound! The heat today was absolutely stifling and even John Quansah (from Ghana!) found it too much and had to go home to the somewhat cooler confines of his room.- John even had to go back and get some sleep due to the crazy heat!

Back at the dorm I had an extremely interesting conversation with Crossman and John, the workshop managers, about their anticipation of the weeks ahead. Up until this point the conference has been quite discussion and concept based but as of next week the participants will be getting down to actually working in the machine shops, much to the delight of Crossman and John. They mentioned that some communication and language difficulties participants had been having during the problem framing and idea generation sessions would soon disappear once a more hands on approach was adopted in the workshops!

In the evening Alvaro organized a potluck dinner of sorts in his room, with the tortilla's he cooked being a personal favorite of mine. Pilo, Lico and Limbor, our Honduran participants also cooked a noodle and pasta dish that had everyone asking for the recipe! We will be then be having an official potluck dinner of sorts this Wednesday with food from Ghana, Brazil, Guatemala and India all hopefully on the menu. We are planning to take the participants to a variety of grocery stores this Monday so they can cook in the style of their country and then share with the group.

One personal way I am trying to communicate with participants who do not have English as their first language is by learning Swahili and Spanish. Carlos Enrique Marroquin Machan, a past participant from Guatemala, and Bernard are helping me with my Spanish and Swahili respectively. I am starting from practically zero base in both languages so I have a feeling I won't even be able to speak English very well in a few weeks!

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