Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Half Way Mark

(As you can already tell, I'm posting my journal entries after the projects have ended.)

1 month in and 1 month left

How’s my work progressing? What sort of metrics am I using to assess my progress? Is the glass half empty or half full? Am I willing to find out if the liquid in the glass is potable?
Questions my higher ups would welcome answers to. I still need to measure how much waste becomes compost – we’re at day 15 of composting using a protocol that assures compost in 14-21 days. Judging by the look of things and our frequent additions to the pile, we may need several more days before we can declare the compost officially ready.

The mushrooms have finally been delivered to the other site where I sometimes work, an elderly home housed within a Buddhist nunnery. The nuns have started growing the mushrooms, a practice which requires muscle memory and some background knowledge. The process of scaling up this enterprise uses up the most brain power and will most likely keep us busy for the last leg of my time in Huế.

The expectations I had are changing
The goals I set out to achieve have changed. I’ve been asked to come up with a curriculum on climate change for the shelter kids in addition to showing them how to compost. Now, I need to figure out how the nuns can generate income from the mushrooms. Admittedly, I did not come into these projects as prepared as I thought I was: I didn’t firmly grasp the importance of building relationships and I underestimated the necessity of mental flexibility. I’m working much harder on this front and making time to abandon my plans and planning for a much less structured experience. It’s not a stressful time but there are certain things which nag at me to complete.

On a more celebratory note, the students are accepting me into their family and – perhaps with some reservation – the task of cutting grass and gathering materials for compost. I daresay some of them even like me.

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