Laurel and Associates, Ltd. – Madison, WI

Day 1 of Train the Trainer for Mercy Corps in Amman

Day 1 of Train the Trainer for Mercy Corps in Amman

On January 19, 2015, Posted by , In Travelogue, By , With Comments Off on Day 1 of Train the Trainer for Mercy Corps in Amman

Today was my third day of training in Amman and the first day of Designing and Delivering Dynamic Learning.

When I used the metaphor of a kaleidoscope for interest based negotiation, the group had a difficult time coming up with creative relationships. Today, however, when I asked them how good training is like a slinky, they were bubbling over with ideas. What a difference two days make!

The training day went well and we accomplished everything I planned. However, we had another late start because apparently a 9 a.m. starting time was considered a mere suggestion rather than a requirement. Zaid spoke to that later in the morning, when everyone had finally arrived. It’s definitely not on the scale that I experienced in Kenya and Zambia- people are late by minutes or half hour increments, not by several hours.

It requires a lot of time and patience when training a group that includes folks who have difficulty reading and speaking English. I have to give many examples, be careful to speak slowly with silences for the listeners to catch up or get a translation from another participant. And of course I have some difficulty understanding their language or their meaning when they speak up, which they all do. So they feel comfortable, which is terrific. I just have to be very careful with the words I choose and to explain any idioms I use.

For example, they weren’t clear on what pros and cons are, or what it means to “wing it” as opposed to planning a lesson. Because they are translating, they are very literal.

Immediately after lunch, we had a great time using the peg system I came up with to help them learn the LESSON design process. The idea of the peg system is to use whole body learning to help learning and retention.

I had them all stand up.

For the needs assessment step, I had them pretend to pour something into an empty cup.

For the learning goals step, I had them point their arms straight ahead and move two steps to represent the 2 learning goals.

For the learning objectives, I first had them pretend to shoot an arrow. Then, for the three sub steps: I had them pretend to put a key in a lock to represent the key content, lay one hand on top of the other several times to represent learning levels, and pretend to drive a racing car saying “whoosh!” to represent the active verb.

For the agenda, I had them count the fingers of one hand.

For the learning activities, I had them pretend to look through binoculars (to meet the needs of visual learners), put a hand behind their ear (to meet the needs of aural learners), and hop up and down (to meet the needs of kinesthetic learners).

For evaluation, I had them pretend to use a magnifying glass and search the floor.

They got a real kick out of it and so did I!

We successfully ended the day with four groups who created learning goals and objectives pretty well working on their own. The test will be what they do tonight on an individual basis. I’ll have to review 22 partial lesson plans (containing goals and objectives) during the session so I can return them so the participant can complete the rest of the lesson plan (agenda, learning activities, durations, materials, and means of evaluation) for my review on the third day.

I had lunch with Hala, who has her masters degree in human resources and serves as a project manager for Mercy Corps, and with Dena, who is a civil engineer working on her masters in counseling (through an online course with an American university). Dena would like to set up a Life Line service for suicide prevention. She says that the rates of suicide in Jordan have greatly increased, due to the economy, conflict between Jordanians and Syrians, increased costs, and decreased availability of jobs, housing, and access to education due to the Syrian influx.

Hala explained that when the Iraqis came to Jordan five or more years ago, they were wealthy and self confident. They quickly moved into the most expensive part of Amman, where they are now the sole occupants.

When the Syrian refugees began arriving three years ago, they were poor and unsure of themselves. They have taken jobs away from Jordanians because the Syrians will work for less and provide the same quality. When they wanted to move out of the refugee camps in the north to move into Amman, rents in Amman increased because the Syrians are subsidized, so Jordanian landlords hike up the rents one and two times the original rates because they know the Syrians will be able to pay them.

I asked Hala how much longer she felt that Jordan could continue to take in refugees and she said that Jordan’s resources were already stretched too thin to accommodate everyone who is there now.

This evening, Zaid and Morad picked me up at 7:30 to take me out. It was so funny, this is the very first time I have been outside since I came here late Friday night. I didn’t even know where the exit door was!

Zaid drove a hybrid car with all sorts of bells and whistles. He told me that he used to be someone who could leave the job when he went home and have pleasant dreams. Now he has nightmares and is continually stressed. Apparently, he manages a staff that is currently down to 6 people to complete 36 projects in 3 years. These projects begin with community mapping, asking community leaders to submit applications and undergo interviews to see whose communities have needs for services, setting up all the logistics for 40 community meetings, teaching proposal writing so the leaders can submit their project proposals, reviewing the proposals and then handling everything related to implementing the projects: budgets, procurement of supplies, contracts with vendors or consultants, etc., etc. Just one of those projects is a health care center that had to be constructed. The amount of work is astounding!

We first went to the Amman Citadel, which is 7000 years old!!! It sits on top of one of the 7 hills of Jordan and the view at night, both looking down into the valleys and over to the other hills, was magnificent.

Then we went downtown, where we met Heba and Heba, two of his staff who are also in my training. We went to a very Spartan looking restaurant owned by a friend of Zaid’s in order for me to try the Jordanian dish called mansaf. It is made with flat bread, yellow rice with nuts, a special yogurt made from jameed (Zaid said it’s like stones and salty before it is soaked in water), and lamb. You’re supposed to have enough yogurt mixed into the dish to be able to eat it without utensils by creating ballsl You eat with your right hand and keep your left hand behind your back. When you eat, you lean back in your chair so that you don’t spill into the common dish, since a large dish is placed on the table to be shared by all.

We used spoons and, despite my initial misgivings, it was quite tasty. Then Zaid said that traditionally the head of the lamb is placed in the middle of the bowl- and that the tongue and eyes are very tasty. Yikes!!!
It was somewhat smoky in the restaurant, but I didn’t say anything because they had been going to take me to a seafood restaurant they like. However, since people both smoke and use hookahs, they knew it would be too smoky for me.

Next, we went to get a special dessert called kanafeh, which is served warm and is very very sweet. The funny thing is that there are two of these exact same stores about a block away from each other and one is always empty (it has chairs and tables) and the other can have lines around the block and there is no where to sit). We did wait on line. People eat the kanafeh standing up, some browsing through a bookstore that has racks outside along both sides and in front of the tiny and apparently very famous bookstore (which is piled high with paperback books). It is run by a very old man. I asked Zaid, Morad and the Hebas (!) if anyone steals the books and Zaid explained that anyone who values books would not steal them.

We walked by another restaurant where the King and Queen come to eat because it serves terrific humus and falafel. Both the bookstore and the restaurant had photos of the King and Queen, both together and separately, sitting and eating, as well as talking with the bookstore owner.

On the way back to the hotel, Zaid explained that Syrians have influenced the Jordanian culture. While stores used to close early, they now stay open late. (in Syria and Egypt, Zaid said that all of the stores are open 24/7!)

He also voiced a fear about the issues in the Middle East. Right now, Jordan is stable, but he doesn’t know how long that will last. Jordan is like a small boat currently riding very treacherous seas.

It was a lovely outing with very gracious and funny folks. I had a lovely time and learned and saw a great deal. This is one of the best aspects of working in a foreign land!



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