I was trying to envision how the workshop would go before we got there, so I could prepare to run out of the nearest exit when things went south. No, I’m kidding, I would never bail. But seriously, I thought I could at least prepare mentally for the place or context of the workshop before I got there.
I think I was expecting a workshop like the kinds of workshops we have at UF, in an academic setting. Something in a stale classroom, with a definite teacher or lecturer and a definite audience, and the attention of those participating. But none of those expectations were met which is fine, actually better in some sense, because I think that the environment of Enrique’s store, workshop, and house really fosters creativity. Chickens walking around and people driving down the road yelling into a megaphone. A guy walking down the street with a big thing of cotton candy and little kids running around barefoot. I would feel much more creative in that environment than I would in a classroom.
But I was a little disappointed when I heard there would only be 4 men at the workshop. I was happy to be doing this for them, but I was hoping there would be more artisans there to share this with. But we went with it and began. Somewhere during the introductions the man in this photo, Joaquin, walked out. I think they actually all walked out at one point or another, but he didn’t come back in. I wasn’t sure about him, he was the only one of the men who did not make eye contact with anyone (or tried not to). He almost seemed like he was in pain, I think it was his body language. The way he leaned over his knees made me worried he wasn’t feeling well. He just seemed to struggle, but he was just sitting. Someone brought up that he may have been shy, and didn’t want to have to introduce himself. Someone else mentioned that he might have had something to do that day, and that he simply couldn’t stay because of other obligations. In any case, I was a little frustrated with what seemed like a total lack of interest. But I can’t assume anything about him, I can only observe.
The following day, when we were doing the activity with the other artisans, he was very anxious about participating. When Maria offered for him to go take part in the activity with a group he shyly walked parallel to everyone else and picked up something on the table, like he was suddenly busy looking at a puzzle hes probably seen a hundred times. He didn’t want to say no, either. I almost felt bad for him, just because I wished that he had the courage, motivation, open-mindedness or whatever it was he was lacking to take part in this activity. I think what Laila was saying about these artisans is completely valid. I think they just need a little push. A little kick in the behind to do what we ask them is their greatest dream. They are talented, smart, capable workers, and it seems like the more we interact with them, the more we are rubbing off, whether we are teaching them anything or just visiting.