We just wrapped up our second week of classes and were able to go on a retreat to really focus on our project in detail. Here are some of the questions we answered after class.
Give three compelling examples of how cultural issues affect your project.
Since the plastic recycling project is so new, we have not come directly into contact with any cultural issues that have affected it. However, I do anticipate that we will run into them at some point. I think that one of the things that my team might struggle with is helping these women tap into their creative side. Not many jobs in the Philippines require design as part of the job description. However, we are asking these women to think outside the box and imagine products that they could make money off of. This might be an issue because it can be difficult for the women to rewire their brains after 40 years of other kinds of thinking. Another cultural issue that we have yet to look into is if there is any stigma surrounding recycled goods. In the United States, people are willing to pay more for products made from recycled material, but we don’t know any information about attitudes about recycled materials in the Philippines. This could drastically affect the marketability of the products the women are making. Another way that cultural issues could affect our project is that there might be some people who look down on women who leave their family to work. Philippine culture places emphasis on family, but men have historically been the breadwinners.
Have you experienced or observed any of these social situations at home? Describe at least three such situations.
I have definitely encountered challenges that limit creativity. My mom jokes about the “Falk gene” that renders all who have it incapable of mastering another language. My grandfather famously manages to pass Spanish with a D and a promise to never take another language class again. Thankfully, my talents were not as dire as my grandfathers, but I too find it difficult to master the pronunciation of other languages. This inability to change pattern in my brain may happen to the women who we are trying to teach. They may be able to manufacture pre-set patterns, but we have yet o find out heir capacity for design. As for a stigma surrounding sustainability, I surprisingly enough can relate. Although my family is highly involved with sustainability efforts – my home even has solar panels on it back in Pittsburgh, not everyone I know is. My family was trash talked in our local newspaper because we installed the solar panels and they were an aesthetic blemish in the neighborhood. The final piece about how some families may have reservations about the women leaving to work is actually something that I can relate to. For almost as long as I can remember, both of my parents have worked full or part-time jobs. However, my dad has always made more money than my mom. Even now when my mom works three part-time jobs while my dad works one full time job, their salaries are not equal. My mom also works from home while my dad commutes to an office every day.
Give three examples of cultural practices that can be leveraged to addressed community / market problems.
One of the major aspects of Philippine culture is that they place a high priority on family. This could potentially be leveraged to help market and community issues because everything can be twisted into a form where “oh if you do ____, then your community will be stronger and your family will be better off for it.” Other than the emphasis on familial ties, my group and I have so much to learn about the culture in the Philippines. We need to discover to what extent machismo plays a role in the workforce. We need to find out what opportunities are available for poor workers, middle-class workers, and everyone in between. We need to understand what home-life is like so that we can see connections between cultural practices in the home and how they affect larger communities/market.