By Susan Maxson, 2nd year MDP student
Xochimilco, Mexico City
In our ongoing assignment to improve communication between RITA members and between central office and the members – the difficulties which I enumerated in my last blog – we asked the question “What about using the mail?” “It doesn't work” was the answer by many people in the RITA office. But one brave person said “I don't think it works, but I don't really know.” We then emailed the same question to a former MDP professor who had lived in Mexico. His answer. “Yes, it works, but it it isn't used very much.”
So Alejandro, Ian and I decided to test the Mexican mail. We sent five numbered envelopes to each of four RITA members (twenty letters total) whom we could phone and warn that the test letters were coming. We asked them to tell us the date that each envelope arrived.
What a surprise! The furthest place, Chiapas, received all five envelopes in only four days after they were mailed. In the end, all twenty envelopes arrived promptly. The Mexican postal system not only worked, it worked well.
This totally revolutionized the conversation about communication at RITA central office. It opened up possibilities. Our practicum team put together a proposal of a monthly newsletter which could go to all members whether or not they had a phone or Internet. The newsletter would not only have articles by RITA head office but would include photos, stories and events submitted by members. Through this we hope to encourage horizontal communication between members as well as vertical communication from head office outward. It is also hoped that conversations on topics of interest could continue from month to month or be revisited to encourage clarification, and understanding of ideas or exchanges of practises which work in one area and might be tried in another.
|Working on sending the "test letters" and the August newsletter|
These are big hopes to pin on one small monthly newsletter. But when communication has been so difficult, and the only good communication is the General Assembly every three years, this is exciting stuff.
Now the newsletter is written and ready to go out, but addresses are proving to be the difficulty. There is no data base with all of the member addresses in it. There did not seem to be a reason to collect them in the past. We spent the last few weeks of our practicum trying to find addresses. We have not been particularly successful. We have only 21 addresses of the 120 members. So we are back to the grapevine method of communication. We are putting an insert into all of the newsletters that are being mailed out asking for all of the addresses of members that they might know so next month RITA can send out more newsletters!