Last night, Ali and I sat down to chat with the potential Project Managers who will likely be taking over in August. We wanted to get to know each other a bit and address any questions or concerns they have thus far. One of the first questions they asked was, “What do you wish you had known this time last year when you were preparing to start working with GSW?” After mulling it over for five minutes when we lost internet and were disconnected (Oh, Cusco!), we really couldn’t think of anything.
The beauty of living and working in a different country is learning through experience. The best way to learn and begin to understand a culture and how you will build a life in a new place is to become embedded within it.
Of course, I researched and imagined what Cusco would be like before coming and it certainly speeds up the adjustment period to have a great orientation and base of knowledge of what to expect, but so much of the experience of moving to Peru is learning through doing.
Re-kindling our relationship with Casa Mantay last week is a perfect example of this. We emailed one of our former contacts at Casa Mantay a few weeks ago to ask if they were interested in re-starting weekly classes with GSW and when we could come by to talk about it.
After a week, we hadn’t heard back. In the US, I would probably follow up with another email or two and maybe a phone call, after which point I would probably assume that the potential partner is not interested and would seek out an alternative. Since this is Cusco, however, the non-response didn’t faze Ali and I at all.
After we didn’t hear back for a week, we hopped on a bus and showed up at the school unannounced in the middle of a puppet show. The staff welcomed us warmly, introducing us to some of the young mothers living in the house and giving us a detailed tour of the facilities. Off-handedly, the director mentioned that she had seen our email but hadn’t gotten around to responding and that she was so happy we had just showed up. After working in NYC high schools with principals, I can tell you first hand that showing up unannounced is not nearly as well received in the US, though it the best and fastest way to get things done here.
We did our best to give the new PMs a general overview of the beauty, quirks, and challenges that we have found living in Cusco, but look forward to hearing their take on life here a year from now.