By Icaro Rebolledo| KF18 | Peru
Back at university, a friend of mine used to tell me that if I couldn’t cross the road walking (as opposed to running) then I should not cross the road. Personally, I thought he was just being lazy, but he had a point… so I started walking. However, here in Chiclayo (Northern Peru) I would argue that if you don’t run to cross the road, then you really are not 100% sure you’ll make it to the other side… so I have gone back to running, with a 100% success rate so far! ‘Unlearning’ a little has indeed been the goal I have found both most challenging and most important! On the one hand, I have never tried ‘unlearning’ anything in my life! On the other hand, how are we supposed to properly understand the context in which people live, if our reasoning is so influence by our own preconceptions!? I’ve always thought that people themselves know what’s best for them, much better than any person outside their day to day environment, which is where empowerment comes in to play.
Yet, a pizza has made me re-assess this a little!…Yes! The pizza spoke to me!…. or more the guy who made the pizza; a big, friendly Italian guy who arrived here 6 months ago, after meeting a girl from Chiclayo back in Torino he decided to come with her and try his luck here setting up their little pizza place. That was my second visit to the place and, like the first time, I was the only customer in the place with my peruvian friend who I had invited. As I ask my friend to choose the type of pizza we are to share and he suggests ‘hawaian’, I shout across the restaurant to the pizza guy… “A large hawaian please!”… to which he replied (gesticulating as only Italians can do) “hawaian? REALLY!?… you are the only foreigner who comes to this town and you ask for hawaian!”. So! after (happily) changing the order, he explains to me how he was forced to include the ‘hawaian’ in the menu because that is the only thing they ask for here…but deep inside he feels it is just wrong and it actually saddens him a little as he is an experienced chef!
And here is the issue! There is of course no ‘wrong’ pizza flavour (even though hawaian probably is the closest to that!), but surely the years of hard work of an experienced Italian chef do potentially have something new and valuable to add to anyone! In the same way, even though we as fellows by no means have the equivalent experience of my new Italian friend, I’d like to think that our little personal and professional experience also has a lot to offer to the people of the places we are volunteering at. In fact, people I interact with here are eager to learn about our thoughts and experiences. As foreigners, tourists, expats, etc, we also have a role in trying to make people think and act outside their comfort zone and expose themselves to situations or debates that we think could enrich us all. My italian friend probably want’s a “hawain-pizza free” society…he won’t get that! I guess he and us, personify a friendly part of globalization, which increases the range of options people have available and the potential to do (eat) something different, but the choice remains local… and on that note, wishing Egyptians a great future!
P.S: and what of the picture!? Well, it looks like a determined colourful global dunkey with a load of mileage, but still with a long way to go… like most people reading this post!
Icaro Rebolledo is a Kiva Fellow, working in Peru this summer with Kiva partner Edpyme Alternativa, a microfinance institution in Northen Peru. Find out how you can become a Kiva Fellow or just more information on kiva and microfinance in general on kiva.org.