How Bazaar? Local Merchants Team With Soldiers for Upcoming Event
Soldiers from the 411th Civil Affairs Battalion Djibouti Team, in support of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, and more than a dozen local merchants met at a local primary school June 23, 2013, where they prepped for an upcoming Djiboutian bazaar on Camp Lemonnier.
"The merchants are here to learn not only rules and procedures, but also how Americans shop so they can understand and relate to their customers," said U.S. Army Capt. Jeffrey Moye, 411th CABN Djibouti Team lead. "For the vendors, it's a great opportunity to learn how to get Americans to buy more from them, but it will also result in a mutually positive cross-cultural experience for the sellers and the buyers."
Overall, Djiboutian bazaars have taken place periodically on camp for years, Moye said, adding that it's the Djibouti CA team's goal to get the event on the camp's regular quarterly schedule.
During the bazaar, camp and U.S. Embassy in Djibouti personnel will benefit from the convenience of shopping without arranging travel downtown, as well as the variety in type of goods for sale and regional cultures represented.
"An assortment of ethnicities and goods is what we focus on to select which vendors will participate," Moye said, adding that, while some merchants have sold goods at Camp Lemonnier before, none may be selected for two consecutive bazaars to ensure fairness.
With deliberate attention paid to ensuring exhibits offer a mix of cultures, CA coordinators also needed to ensure their vendor prep information was understood by a cultural mix of vendors attending their class.
In doing so, the interactive merchant-Soldier information exchange included English briefings, French translations to multi-lingual vendors and interactive CA team role-play demonstrations that left the crowd laughing and applauding as they gained understanding.
With an ear-to-ear grin and an enthusiastic, "two thumbs up," local merchant and bazaar classmate Ismael Robleh Ali said he has participated in camp bazaars five times before and looks forward to seeing lots of big smiles and making lots of good deals for service members.