ImpaCt (with a capital C)

It seems that my Tuesday night blog didn’t publish, which, in retrospect, is probably for the best. For the sake of your stomach and mine, I’ll just say that I had an unfortunate encounter with some local cuisine, which gave me a unique opportunity to take a field trip to a South African health clinic. For the most part, I was really impressed, but I will note that the nurses’ nervousness about my lack of usable veins did lead them to come up with very loose interpretations of “vein”. 36 hours later, I am back to normal, save for the fact that I newly am a pescatarian (no more red meat or birds – at least until I can have my memory modified.)

Tuesday night, the technical providers went out for a wine tasting. I wasn’t drinking or eating yet, so I was enjoying only the scent and color part of the tasting. Admittedly, I was concerned for a bit that I had lost my palatte (everything smelled like dirty socks to me), but my dining mates determined that the wine selection was sub-par. We more than made up for it Wednesday night; we enjoyed a delightful tasting menu at Jardem, home to the 2008 best chef in South Africa. Eager for real food, I embraced my new eating pattern with a first course of mussels, steamed in a paper bag with lemongrass, coconut milk, and ginger. Second course was a potato gnocchi with greens. I finished with a delectable cheese plate, which made me think of wine and cheese dates from my new york days with my friend, Meghan. I find that there are so many parts of south Africa that I want to share and enjoy with friends from the US.

There has been much more to this trip than eating/drinking or not. I have completed 7 of 8 interviews/trainings. It has been such a learning experience for me (probably more so for me than for our grantees). I have positioned myself as a communications resource for them, and I hope in the two years remaining in this project that I have an opportunity to see some of these projects on the ground. I will return to the states on Sunday, eager to learn more about communications strategy for development, particularly demonstrating impact (not just outreach).

On that note, I had a delightful breakfast with a norweigian woman named Ingunn (she recognized my inner swede immediately!), who is working in vietnam right now. We were joined by another grantee, who is from Mexico, and one of our TWG reps (a fellow foodie, and the mastermind behind last evening’s gourmet feast.) our topic was measuring anc documenting impact, which stemmed from many discussions I have had with the grantees this week. It is a question I struggle to answer in my Web2.0 work; we raise all this awareness, yes, but have we really made a difference? If so, how can we measure it, and how can we document it? I still don’t have an answer.