AMay’s Fair Trade Beginner’s Blog

Well hello there, my fellow Fair Traders!

For those of you who I have not had the pleasure of meeting yet, my name is Alice May. You may ask “So, wait… you go by your first and middle name?” Yup! Sure do! But I also respond to “AMay” for short.  I am currently the Volunteer Coordinator for Ten Thousand Villages of Austin, and am completely in love with my job. I basically get to hang out with really cool people all day, every day AND educate them about Fair Trade. What’s not to love about that?

This is me at our 1st Annual Fair Trade Film Festival... I couldn't resist getting "Fair Trade Certified!"

Ok, ok– so I think my job is great, yadda yadda yadda… there is a point to this post, so I’ll get to it! A year ago this week, I began to volunteer at TTV of Austin. This was my introduction to the concept of “Fair Trade.” From the get-go, I was hooked. Our wonderful Staff and Lead Volunteers helped me to learn the basics so that I could hopefully speak to customers in a coherent and intelligent way about how fair trade operates. (Dear TTV Shoppers circa Feburary-April 2010, if you are officially confused about the meaning of Fair Trade and/or a little weirded out by the awkward volunteer girl that greeted you at the door, please forgive me 🙂 Come back! I’ll show you my very much improved “30-second elevator speech!”) Of course, practice makes perfect and it feels that I have come a very long way from a year ago.

Then in August, I stepped into the full-time Volunteer Coordinator position where I was then expected to educate new volunteers about the basics of Fair Trade so that they could speak to customers in a coherent and intelligent way. All of a sudden, I found myself responsible for igniting and fueling passion in our volunteers so that they could pass it along to our shoppers. OH! M. G.  That’s a lot to be entrusted with! So far, I think I have been doing okay at teaching the basics. But I want to do more than just okay. To be honest, I think I might know a little more about Fair Trade than when I was a volunteer, but not much more. As someone who has been assigned the task of educating volunteers about Fair Trade, it is my job get my booty in gear and start soaking up every piece of information out there. If I don’t, I run the risk of missing the ripe opportunity to utilize our incredibly generous and enthusiastic volunteers as vessels to spread the word of Fair Trade. It would be such a shame to waste that!

With all of that being said, I am a firm believer in self-directed learning. The process of persistently and actively researching a topic and then analyzing it through the written word is incredibly powerful. I am hoping that my contribution to this blog accomplishes 2 things:

  • It will be a useful learning tool for me to use as I continue my journey through the complex world of Fair Trade. Then, my gains from this can directly/indirectly affect the way I relate to and educate my volunteers.
  • A secondary goal of this blog is of course, that others in my same shoes will follow along with me and engage in conversation if they feel compelled to do so in order for them to reach a better understanding of the topic.

It is only my hope that I can try to help myself and others come to a clearer vision of what Fair Trade is and how it operates in the real world. So– I encourage you to interact with me through this blog (and in real life!). Share your comments, questions, ideas, perusals, etc… I look forward to contributing to the Ten Thousand Villages of Austin’s blog and conversing with you in the very near future!