Alaina, Alison and I went down to south Philly today for research. The plan was to head down to this big parade and festival put on by the Mexican community, with our questions and work and exchange phone cards for feedback. We were told that the parade/festival was actually an annual thing that happens in Puebla, the state a majority of the immigrants hail from and that it is just a coincidence that it happened on Easter.
I’m pretty proud of ourselves because we didn’t really know what to expect, and we quickly realized that it would not be a calm, quiet event to easily approach people and iniate a conversation. With only one of a fluent spanish speaker, and none of us ready to awkwardly approach people, we needed a way to break the ice. We decided to take a walk and re-group.
Though we did had a lot of questions to ask, we also had phone cards to offer in repayment. We just needed a way to make the initiation less awkward, and hopefully talk with people who were willing to help. This reminded me of when I used to sell newspaper subscriptions. I offered a free “shopping spree,” it was really just a $25 gift card, but those words enticed people to atleast come and find out what it was all about. However, I had a little collapsible kiosk back then, so a table at the event would have been great. We talked about how we could just have a sign that said “Free Phone Cards” and people could just approach us. These dreams turned into action, and we walked 6 blocks to the nearest pharmacy and bought markers, poster board, water and sunscreen (and some yellow iridescent plastic fake Easter grass).
With supplies in hand we borrowed my girlfriend, Jenn’s bike and used it as our anchor and tying the cards to her basket with the Easter grass. We parked our “parade float” on the corner outside the event, because inside was packed, and just waited. It worked almost too well. We had to hide the sign when we would start talking to people because we only had one person to translate and couldn’t talk to more than one person at a time.
Four hours later, I’m a little sunburnt but am happy about the resilience and the research we accomplished. We celebrated with a piña colada in a pineapple and one beast of an al pastor sandwich.