June 7, 2012
So, I would call our market presentation a success. I set out to be more visible in the community; just sit the in the market like we did in Ampefy and Arivonimamo and talk to people. My co-workers had another thing in mind entirely. First, I went to the mayor with my counterpart, Nary, to ask if it was ok to set up posters and a table and do a little presentation. He and Nary start talking very quickly about stages and microphones and occasions and Independence Day, June 26th. Whooooooooa buddy. So I tell them I will be out of town for fetim-pirenena (Independence Day), which is not a lie. They then agree to let me do it the next Wednesday, just a normal market day. There was still talk of a megaphone, but I would put up with that (or just not use it) if that was the compromise.
So Wednesday morning, Nary tells me we are going to set up our stand in the market. I am a little worried because we take the car, which means there are things in the back that we can’t take walking. We get to the market, and people start unloading two tents, a banner, and sound equipment. Crap.
So all of that gets set up, and a woman begins playing music to draw a crowd. Then Nary starts talking into the microphone, explaining a little bit about who we are and what we do. Emphasizing that our name is not “vazaha,” and so we should be called by our actual name. Then he periodically handed Eric and me the microphone to introduce ourselves and explain a little more. Then he got really into it, and started an interactive question and answer session with the crowd. He particularly enjoyed it when he found out one of Peace Corps’ goals is cultural exchange. So he started asking us questions about the difference in food and holidays and other differences between the US and Madagascar. We were out there for almost four hours, and the crowd would come and go, so we probably saw a couple hundred people. Not to mention the people who didn’t come over, but could hear us because of the microphone.
Now, the other market presentations in Arivonimamo and Ampefy served their purpose, but here is how I know we hit home on this one:
· Several people today said “manahoana Sarah,” and they are not people I know
· A few children said “bonjour, Sarah,” which is still better than “bonjour vazaha”
· Three people came to see me at the Chamber of Commerce office this morning, wanting to talk about their businesses (or lack there of) and their problems. These were not people I have ever worked with before
· And finally, two people have told me that they heard me on the RADIO! One wasn’t even from the same town, she texted me to tell me. There are definitely fewer privacy laws here, and no waivers to sign it seems, as this is not the first time I have been broadcast without knowing it. The first was the song we sang in Malagasy at Swearing In at the beginning of May. I think that one may have even aired on TV, haha.
So, definitely successful, and I am building up not only my recognition in the community, but a new client list. That will go nicely with the new business cards I printed today—my first ones ever! I am such an adult (riiiight)