Some people just have a presence about them, a way with people. I met Ferdinand last month on a project in Bangladesh. He was brought in to be the translator for the video project we were working on and help us conduct interviews and translate the recordings. While he was an excellent translator, that was not his defining talent.
Ferdinand is a people person, as soon as you meet him you feel like you are friends. Conversation is easy, and you really feel accepted and valued when you are around him. While I enjoyed feeling like I mattered, I was much more appreciative of his ability to connect with everyone we worked with. He was able to build a connection and rapport with everyone, government officials, farmers, and local staff members, men and women.
It is a quality that I really admire and wish I was better at, when I am on location I often struggle to balance the management of the project with genuinely connecting with the people I am working with. On projects like this one that are fast moving and complex, I really appreciate knowing that there is someone like Ferdinand on site to really connect with people in their language who can make sure they feel welcome and appreciated.