I looked up the definition of ingenuity to make sure I was thinking about it properly.

in·ge·nu·i·ty (n): the quality of being clever, original, and inventive. (from googling “definition ingenuity”)

Turns out I knew the definition. Knowing the definition doesn’t change why I was thinking about it. I can believe that sometimes I am each of the qualities, but not as much as I would like nor all together. For instance, I’ve got a bunch of craft projects started for when I’m sitting at home trying to avoid responding to email. However, I’m just copying a bunch of other people’s ideas, designs, and even templates. It is still fun, but I’ve been lacking inspiration lately. The pictures from Day of the Dead went up into their respective posts (here, here, here, and here), but then I’ve had nothing else new. I look around this fascinating place where I live, but it hasn’t quite been enough to break my creative inertia.

At my primary project, I’ve been given a chance to reformulate my assignment. However, I look around and try to read a little about everything that is being done there, but I can’t seem to put the pieces together. There must be opportunities there that I should be leaping into, but I don’t even really have the spark to search for them. I want to write about work on this blog more. I work every day, but my Peace Corps work is more of an interesting process than anything else at this point. I’m involved in a number of (secondary) projects but even after 6 months (!) in site, everything is still just warming up, except for Niños y Niñas de México. That work is steady and great every Wednesday helping the Otomí women in the Sister’s Stitching Workshop. As a number of my posts have indicated, I read a variety of other Peace Corps volunteer blogs, and they show me that I should talk about work more, because not only do people ask me all the time “What are you doing?” but that is what I like to read about as well – along with why people Early Terminate or are medically separated, of course.

However with all the projects that are just getting rolling, there are two main blocks to writing about them. Firstly, they are not solely my projects. I’m working with other people, and usually on their initiatives. Therefore, I feel that it isn’t my place to blog about them in these early stages because they are not my ideas. Haha, I just realized that this is sort of an intellectual property question. Damn, I keep stumbling into Tech Transfer no matter how hard I try to avoid it. The second block is that I don’t know how to write about having a few meetings, and certainly I don’t know how to talk about these meetings without running into the first block.

When these projects have more to them besides a few meetings, and I have talked with their primary architects, then I will be back to write about them. What’s funny to me is that these meetings are usually great and very inspiring, but very difficult to blog about in an interesting way. For me, that means having interesting photos. Nevertheless, these meetings are why I keep joining more and more projects. I could be in trouble when they all ramp up.

Maybe I’m making this too hard though. I think that I should and can at least briefly describe the main projects that I am working on:

1) Sister’s Stitching Workshop at Niños y Niñas de México, A.C. Every Wednesday, another volunteer  and I help at the weekly workshop where the woman are assembling hand-embroidered designs into greeting cards, bookmarks, and occasionally other items.

2) Teaching English at El Puente de Esperanza where I’m part of a group of volunteers that give supplemental classes. This class is a lot of fun, and these teens are so motivated that it is wonderful to work with them.

3) Since training, I have been involved in the working group for an internal Peace Corps Mexico volunteer website where we communicate, collaborate, share information in a way to hopefully preserve knowledge for future volunteers, and create a template for PC programs in other countries to do the same.

4) I feel very fortunate to have been tapped to be a part in the early stages of an amazing project that is aiming to organize and use technology transfer for projects in rural settings. (and where the picture of the ducks came from)

5) I’m also just joining a project that a couple of other volunteers are getting going with a local non-profit that uses amaranth to combat malnutrition and poverty in a way that promotes sustainable development in many sectors of society.

I think those are all, but if I’m forgetting something then maybe I need to rethink my involvement in that project. There are a couple of other ideas that I have going with other volunteers and friends that haven’t even cohered into forms that can be put on the list. Personally, also, I’m trying to at least maintain my climbing, a constant project in my life, usually striving for improvement. I’ve been feeling that one slipping a bit lately. It was pointed out to me that maybe I should let that pressure valve release a little, because I have been running more than just a bit lately, so it’s not like I’m in bad shape and I could get back into good climbing shape with a couple of focused months.

When I work on these projects, I feel like a successful Peace Corps volunteer. What I struggle with is my lack of primary project activity. I’m hoping to be able to connect some of the projects to research being done at my center, but I’m just not sure that will happen. Today though, I feel like I need an easy win, so I’m going to work for project #1 at the Christmas bazaar where they have a booth, after I have a quick meeting about project #4.

Taking a look around, I’m trying to be inspired by the ingenuity I see around me. Like the amazing variety of mobile food carts. I am going to keep photographing these whenever I can. Seen below is a corn-roasting cart in Mexico City and a banana-roasting cart in Oaxaca City.

I keep adding tags to this post, because it touches on a bit of everything for me. At first, I wasn’t sure if I should add this to the Essay category or not, but then I kept writing so I think it qualifies now. Thank you, as always, for visiting, and maybe even reading my blog. This has been my favorite project, maybe of all time.

One Response

  1. Some people find a unique project or topic that excites and fulfills them, and they focus most of their energy into it. Others find themselves liking change (getting bored?) after ..a while..and prefer to do/learn something new. That person tends to BE the unique item, bringing something special to many projects. Life needs both types, like for most things there is no one best flavor. Release that pressure valve entirely and accept the value in having ingenuity (and a longer CV).

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