During the spring semester course at Parsons, Designing Collaborative Development, our student team prototyped ideas they felt could benefit the group of artisan women in Santiago Zamora. The overarching idea was to promote their village as a tourist destination with a series of activities and workshops that the group would run for tourists.
Upon our arrival in Santiago Zamora last Friday we learned that the group already has such a program so we thought the next step should be to experience what they already offer and then figure out how we could build on their existing program, offer them our constructive criticism, and support what they have already designed (an ideal way to integrate our suggestions into the workings of the cooperative.)
Thus, Monday afternoon, we arrived to Santiago Zamora, not as the team from DEED, but as a group of tourists. This photo essay describes the wonderful 4-hour program they had prepared for us.
(The photo essay continues, click the link below.)
A lovely activity which we did not capture in photography was hearing about their natural medicines. They had picked from their local plants, including lemongrass, basil, and hibiscus, and explained to us which they used for which malady (fever, stomach ache, and cramps.)
All in all, it was a lovely experience. Some of our feedback for them when we return on Wednesday will be regarding the price (they currently only charge 40 quetzales, about $5, which we think does not cover the cost of the activities), the fact that they had us try the weaving on the most complicated design possible (not great for beginners!) and finally, the issue with language (a definite need to factor in the cost of a translator for groups who don’t speak spanish.)
How much would you pay to spend 3 or 4 hours with a Mayan women’s cooperative engaged in these kinds of activities?