Tuesday, October 27, 2009

all hands on deck

There are definitely some disadvantages to living smack dab in the middle of the place where I work. But living in a small community peppered with talented young people has its advantages, too. And I make full use of that convenience!

Like a couple months ago when a volunteer's going away party happened to land on my night to cook. While I can usually hold my own in the kitchen, this particular evening I was desperate for help. The guest of honor had requested her favorite Bolivian meal: chicharron de pollo with fried yuca. Apart from tracking down the chickens and the yuca, I had no idea how to begin preparing the meal for our near twenty guests.

Nursing students Gimena Cadena and Jose Luis Gomez prepare chicken for dinner at the Volunteer House. As I am unskilled at preparing Bolivian cuisine, they were my dinner party lifesavers!

With two hours before show time, I walked out to the Campus Manning courtyard (i.e. my backyard) and easily persuaded two first-year Nursing students to help. While I provided the entertainment (music and intermittent dancing), Gimena Cadena and Jose Luis Gomez put on aprons and set to work. And within no time a delightful dinner was being shared among a table full of hungry guests. Potential dinner party disaster diverted!

Jose Luis and Gimena saved me that night--as many of our students save me in last-minute emergencies or tight pinches. Here, it's handy to have a plethora of people to ask for help--many of whom have unique talents.

Ecotourism students Damian (pictured) and Ruly Antonio stepped up to the plate at the last minute and accompanied my visiting friend Kelly Abraham and me on the Ecovia Trek. Their fire-starting skills were rewarded with S'mores!

The electric shower in the Volunteer House isn't working? We call on Beto, a sixth semester Ecotourism student. He's a trained electrician and can, within minutes, ingeniously solve any type of electrical problem. Need a chair or an end table fixed? Talk to Eddy who works in the UAC-CP's carpentry shop on the upper campus. He'll drill a hole, put in a bolt, and even load the repaired item back into the truck. Foot infection or stomachache? Go see UAC-CP Nursing graduate Sr. Carmen who lives next door. The contents of her first-aid kit, combined with her sweet bedside care, will heal sickness and infection.

UAC-CP students represent a hodgepodge of abilities that range from sewing and painting to mouse trap setting and bat chasing. I rely on students to help carry luggage and groceries, unclog sinks, and fix broken locks.

Of course there are generally no financial transactions for these services. But I usually try to find some way to thank students or compensate them for sharing their time and talent. Often, their "payment" somehow aligns with the context of their good deed. Like, Gimena and Jose Luis stayed and had dinner with us on the night they cooked and Beto always takes a hot shower in our house once the electrical situation is under control (a nice change from cold showers in the dorms).

There are definitely days when I long to be a little less in the middle of it all, but I also recognize the advantage of being surrounded by so many talented and able-bodied young people who can come to the rescue when I need it most. Without their help, my dinner parties (and my work) would be less flavorful.

1 comment:

nathanisms said...

Love your community. And that is simply what it is, what many people long for, community. Working together, sharing the load and celebrating life.