Flying South: Pre-Trip Reflection

 

  1. What are 5-7 things you are hoping to gain from the experience in Ecuador this winter? Explain your choices.

     Improving my Spanish:

I studied Spanish throughout middle school and high school but I haven’t had much opportunity to use it since. I am looking forward to fine-tuning that skill set while learning new textile-related terms.

     Meeting new people:

After a few skype sessions with the leaders of Mujer y Medio Ambiente, I am really looking forward to meeting the weaving cooperative in person. We clearly have a mutual interest in textiles and hand-made goods so I am excited to share our aesthetic viewpoints and design ideas and see what we produce as a result of this collaboration!

     Learning to weave and crochet:

Mujer y Medio Ambiente has expressed interest in teaching the Cornell handicraft team to weave and crochet. I am excited to work on these techniques with them and to witness their design and product development processes first hand. I am particularly intrigued by their use of natural dyes and want to learn more about the process of spinning cabuya fibers.

     Getting to know my peers:

I have really enjoyed meeting my classmates in IARD 2040 and am really looking forward to getting to know them better as we share the experience of visiting Intag together.

     Exploring the cloud Forest:

I am thrilled to have the opportunity to explore one of the most biodiverse regions in the world! I think this experience will be particularly special because I will be traveling with a group of people that is very knowledgeable about the flora and fauna in Intag.

  1. What are you most nervous about? What do you anticipate being the most challenging part of your experience?

I’m concerned about my ability to communicate effectively in Spanish, particularly when leading the design workshops. I think the language barrier will be the most challenging part of my experience.

  1. What are some assumptions/expectations that your community partners may have about you at your first meeting?

I think that the Mujer Y Medio Ambiente cooperative might expect me to have more knowledge and experience designing in and working with leather, a material that is relatively new to me.

  1. What are your assumptions/expectations about them?

I think that MYMA will be excited to meet the handicraft team and eager to hear the presentations they have requested from us. However, I am apprehensive about the design presentation because while I am happy to share what I have prepared, I feel that the creative process is deeply personal and material-specific, I am therefore concerned about how helpful my perspective will be to the cooperative.

  1. How do you expect this trip to fit into the context of your previous international experiences (if any). What about the future context? (do you expect your personal and professional life to take you overseas in the future?

As an Apparel Design student I have had a long-standing interest in socially responsible design and manufacturing as well as the preservation of textile and apparel traditions.

I had an opportunity to explore these interests during a previous IARD trip to Southern India where I toured weaving, printing and fabric treatment facilities as well as textile and apparel factories. During my visit, I was able to to observe and study textile and apparel manufacturing processes, the silk and cotton industries and traditional Indian weaving and dying techniques first- hand.

My time in India and the corresponding IARD courses has definitely informed my interest in and  approach to the Intag Project. Aside from the obvious geographical and cultural differences, there are also some key structural differences between the two courses. In India, I primarily learned through observation but my time in Ecuador will be much more interactive and our projects aim to foster a lasting collaborative relationship with the Intag community.

In the future, I hope to design for (or start) a socially conscious apparel company centered on artisan partnerships and fair trade manufacturing principles. This trip will allow me to gain experience in cross-cultural collaborative design while learning more about Fair Trade and other socially and ecologically conscious certification processes.

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