Tuesday, June 30, 2009

internship renegotiation

sorry this is a little old! I never published it!

This has been an interesting week at my internship. For one, we have started to teach the staff english. We have had very intruiging conversations about the internet, identity theft, and internet gaming.

At the internship one issue we've come across is how far too extend politeness. The first day that we were teaching english the staff at little rose bought us cafe sua da because we had mentioned that we liked it. This was a very sweet gesture. Unfortunately, the coffee contained the dreaded crushed ice--the ice that is carted in open trucks in a large block form, the ice we had been warned to avoid like the plague. Yet, it would have been incredibly rude to refuse the drink and would have chipped away at the tenuous bond we were beginning to build with the staff.

This experience has also taught me that incredible gap in communication that can easily occur. For the first few weeks we communicated with the staff at Little Rose entirely through proxies. Because of this, they may have felt somewhat distanced from us and personally insulted. Consequently, they were not overly helpful in having the girls cooperate with us. Yet, now that we are teaching the staff english, we have developed a nice relationship with them. Consequently, they help us gather the attention of the girls and interact with them while we are there.

Secondly, today the staff declared that the girls were going to give us manicures. This felt very uncomfortable to me on several levels. For one, it is in a way child labor, for the girls are under 18. Yet, throughout the trip i have eaten at restaurants with child servers. Another level on which it made me uncomfortable was that, given the language barrier, I was unsure whether or not she truly wanted to give me a manicure to get practice, or whether she simply felt pressured by the staff to do it. I tried to refuse but the girl looked hurt. It also felt like I was playing into certain stereotypes. As I look down at my beautifully painted nails (red with a a tree design) typing on the keyboard I can't help but feel a twinge of guilt. This experience has certainly led me to question many of my established notions.

I have to admit that with the balance of spending half the time with the staff and half the time with the girls I feel as if we are finally maximizing our time at the center.

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