So plans here tend to change…a lot. It’s both a nature of the job and a nature of living in Guatemala. In light of a recent shake up this past week in my region, instead of sticking around for the rest of reflection week, I actually hopped on a 5:30am shuttle this morning and headed back to Pana to manage the office while Juana and Wicho are out. Even though I’ve been here three weeks, this job has a really steep learning curve…and I’ll admit that I’m a little nervous about the responsibility of being in the store by myself! I’m not 100% comfortable with my Spanish, my ability to give eye exams, nor my expertise on all of our projects…but it’s definitely getting better day by day.
My notebook is literally overflowing with “to-dos” for the next week, in preparation for our next SECorps group to come through. Everything is pretty informal here in Guatemala, which means that between now and our next group arriving, I need to check and double-check hotels, transportation, campaigns, activities, etc. to make sure everything is as officially set as possible. E-mail is definitely not ubiquitous either, so much of planning here involves some pretty lengthy games of phone tag. And I’ve also learned that with all of this uncertainty, it’s important to not only have a Plan B, but also a Plan C, and D, and E…and so forth.
I’m starting to understand the life of a field consultant. It’s a huge amount of responsibility – though there’s a lot of team support, I’m pretty much my own boss, and the key contact for my region (along with Juana). It’s great because I have the freedom and flexibility to do what I think is necessary for my region. But it also means that if something goes wrong, the burden lies on me to fix it. And things go wrong all the time…campaigns fall through, products break in transit, someone gets sick, a bus is late, a derrumbe blocks the road, communication barriers may be impassable.
As my “honeymoon period” wears thin…it’s not that I’m feeling any less excited or positive about my job (or life in Guatemala), it’s just that I’m beginning to realize the magnitude of expectations and responsibility that this job entails. It’s scary but mostly exciting, especially because the impacts and consequences of everything I do are so, so real. Each pair of glasses we sell, each collaboration we initiate with partner organizations, each new asesor that we provide with the opportunity to learn business skills and make much-needed money while supporting his or her community’s health and well-being has a distinct, quantifiable, and visible impact that I know will continue to drive me forward.