31 July 2008

Where the truth lies

I am convinced I have a lot to learn in this world (This is a no-brainer). And just when I thought my English degree and communication design training were tools that could aid in my learning, I am starkly aware that even the best training can't equip you for personality differences, bureaucracy and people's egos.

I am not surprised by the confusion generated through communication channels. That is why I enjoy being in the communication design field. It's an opportunity to effect tools/processes that can help temper this confusion. The next time you take a bus trip think about how you know which bus to take. Consider how you know a lot of things that guide you through a given day.

But what communication design can't do is define rules for engagement in oral communication. At least, I've not yet found anything to support this idea. We've experienced a lot of miscommunication because of the reliance on oral tradition here in Rwanda. Some of it is humourous. But yesterday, the humour was not present. An event we had planned, postered and prepared for was cancelled on us. It involved a film screening (Born Into Brothels) and discussion. We invited anyone who wanted to come and had planned to have it at the university. The students we have been working with were keen and and helped in the planning of it. But because we apparently didn't follow protocol (a protocol that had the potential to change on us through word of mouth, and not the written word), we were shut down. And while I certainly don't have all the information in front of me, I am fairly sure this is more about power and control than anything else. For all the meetings, document signings and technical arranging we engaged in for this event, we somehow still got shafted. Mitch will also be writing a lovely diatribe about this so rather than focus on that, I've opted to share about some other things. But I will say this, my thesis is taking a potential turn in that I am becoming interested in the role of communication design in an oral culture.

I've shared a Jesuit practice with the boys during our time here. We use the principles to debrief our days:
During war time, orphans were fearful of falling asleep because they figured they might die in the night. So those attending to them would give them a loaf of bread to sleep with in hopes that this would bring them comfort for the night (they would be guaranteed to wake up with food). There is a lovely book about this called Sleeping With Bread. I highly recommend it. In it, the practice we can adopt is to identify our consolations and desolations in a given day (and in so doing, hopefully release them so we can truly rest). In light of this I can say that the first paragraph of this blog is one of my biggest desolations. But beyond this sentence, I will share my consolations.

We filmed the students at Kazo yesterday (for a project that BBR has been collaborating on). A new school has been built and 5 students have benefitted from the funding that comes from a community of people in Creston, BC. School fees are expensive so education can be problematic for many. We had a delightful time photographing with them and hope to have these students over for a meal before they go. They told me I was, "fresh". I'm taking this as a compliment.

Today, I'm back in Kigali (sitting at Bourbon Coffee, of course!) and we're about to head back to Gashora to do a site visit (research and data collection for future needs in the village where we are working). We will also connect with the women and I'll show them the logo I've crafted. I still have some tweaking to do but this is what I came up with in light of our co-creation session a week or so ago. I took a few of the images the women had drawn for me and from that, crafted a water hyacinth plant icon to suggest that they were unique in their weaving because of this. The two Kinyarwandan words below it say, "environment and economics" (I'll have an English and Kinyarwandan version for them). If you are a designer and have any immediate feedback, feel free to send me a note. I'll let you know what the women think!

1 comment:

shuffle pappa said...

Hi, Kara

I now have read the Olive is Green Version and the People, Places and Things version of your friend and "mine" - C.C. aka "Concert Cancellor" or V.V. aka "Video Victimizer". Life is never dull.

I will never again going into a shirt department without remembering Mitch and his purchase predicament.

Your writing is addictive and I enjoy hearing your voice - you are a bright lady (and beautiful too!) Isn't there a Hymn by the name of "All Things Bright and Beautiful"?
u be 1.

I always end up laughing and smiling whenever I read Mitch' Blog. I feel honoured to be able to access your various points of view.

I am urged to call you shortly - talk to you soon.

Shuffle Pappa