Today we attended our first cluster meeting with the farmers. They meet each month to discuss their progress or problems and receive training on sustainable farming practices. We sat down with approx 10 farmers and ask them questions developed by the Yale Students we are working with. This survey will be used as a tool to improve the TIST program and enhance the life of the farmers.
Taking a survey may sound straight forward but it came with its challenges. Only half the group spoke English and it was sometimes difficult to translate. All the farmers willingly shared their personal information with us so TIST can better serve them.
After the meeting we toured two farms, one being a school. This school taught up until 8th grade. The children were excited and nervous to see a van full of Americans arrive. They stood at the doors of their classrooms giggling and pointing. We spoke to the head teacher and she allowed us to visit two of the classrooms. The 8-9 year old students were polite and smiled a lot. They were learning social studies and I showed them where we lived on the map and how far we traveled. We then saw the 6-7 year old class, the same age as my son. They also were nervous but got very excited when we showed them pictures of themselves on our cell phones. Although the school was bare and nothing like American schools all the children seemed happy and well behaved.
After a long day a few of us walked into town to check things out. They very rarely see Americans, if at all, and we received many stares and waves. It was a very strange feeling to stick out of crowd like that. I am thankful that I feel safe and everyone is friendly.
Tomorrow we have more meetings and surveys to do. It has been a tiring adventure and I hope tomorrow was just as great as today.