Day 3 of Train the Trainer for Mercy Corps in Amman
Today was the third day of Designing and Delivering Dynamic Learning for Mercy Corps in Amman.
I realized today that most of the participants are in their twenties. Many of them, both single men and women, still live with their families. Their mothers cook and clean for them.
The women in the class fall into three categories. There are the women who I think may be Christian (I know at least one definitely is) who wear Western clothing and nothing on their heads.
There are young Muslim women who are very stylishly dressed (tight pants and very high heeled shoes) and wear a close fitting cap and headscarf, which may be very colorful and long, so it drapes beautifully around their heads and their shoulders. Their make up (particularly beautiful eyes and bold eye brows) is obvious yet perfect.
There are other young Muslim women who wear an over garment that looks like a very long coat and comes in a variety of colors and designs. I’ve noticed that the women coordinate their head caps with their over garments. These over garments are very loose, although some wear a belt with theirs. Most of the women have been wearing some type of stylish boot, since it is quite cold here right now (in the 30’s and 40’s F). However, others wear sneakers.
Oh, I spoke with the young petite woman who had such a pile of desserts on her plate. She said that she took a bite of each one, but ended up just eating fruit because the desserts did not taste as good as they looked. She also told me that she only eats on meal: a late lunch. My stomach started growling just to hear that! She does it to stay slim.
Today was also tiring (I think they all will be because I’m tired!) because I was trying to review and revise the lesson plans that now include an agenda and learning activities.
Again, for the most part I was quite pleased with their creativity in their choices of learning activities. Since I had left over happy face stickers from the first day of the training (when the participants had to select the learning objectives that they felt most important and put a sticker next to them), I put happy face stickers on the lesson plans yesterday. So, of course, I had to put another happy face sticker on them after I reviewed them a second time.
I spent an hour and a half after class with Nour, who is not confident with his English ability. It took that time to work through what I expected, what he intended, what he wrote, where it needed to be revised, what needed to be added, etc. He is very serious about learning how to design a lesson plan- in this case, for a time management class he’ll be giving in a few weeks.
When we were done, he pointed to the ring on his right hand (I think) and invited me to his engagement and birthday party this coming Saturday. It was such a sweet invitation and I sincerely wish I could attend. Unfortunately, as I told Nour, I need to leave for the airport immediately after our last session on Saturday.
The poor guy. He is apparently reading the day’s materials over again in the evening, then reading the next day’s materials so he will be more likely to understand what we are talking about. And he is busy with all of the logistics involved in an engagement party. Yikes!
I hadn’t reviewed Islam’s lesson plan and I thought she was going to wait until tomorrow. But no, she kept peeking into the room. So at one point, Nour got up so Islam could sit and talk with me about hers. She is a lovely person (as is everyone) and very committed to conducting good training. We had a great discussion and came with some new activities to go along with what she had previously planned.
There were some really funny moments today. I had the participants write down a motivational challenge they face with their participants, roll up the paper and insert it into a balloon. They then had to blow up the balloon and tie it. A few of the women needed someone else (another women in all cases) to blow up the balloons for them!
Then they gathered in a circle with the instruction that, as soon as I started playing music, they should bat the balloons back and forth to each other, trying to keep as many in the air as possible. When the music stopped, they were supposed to grab a balloon that was a different color than their balloon and prick it. Ahlam was a stitch because she had a pin and went around pricking the balloons for folks.
They had a blast batting the balloons around. Then they had to recommend solutions to the challenge written on the paper that was in the balloon they now had in hand.
Shadi read his, regarding a participant who talks too much, and then handed it to Heba saying that she had experienced this and could explain how to handle it. I didn’t catch the entire comment, so I assumed he was actually referring to Heba, because she does this. Later, when I had lunch with Zaid and we were discussing this, he agreed that he had thought the comment referred to Heba. He said that it is only when she speaks in English that she says the same things over and over again (because she is unsure of her English). She comes straight to the point when she speaks in Arabic.
Two challenges were poignant problems. One, helping parents with disabled children come to training about how to integrate them into the schools. Apparently, they stop just outside the door to the classroom and leave because they are embarrassed and/or guilty about having a disabled child. We discussed the idea that changing the title of the workshop to something like: Helping the Differently Abled Student Succeed in the Classroom and approaching the discussion of the children from the standpoint of their being differently abled instead of disabled might help to address this issue.
The other issue pertained to participants who come into the classroom with a current history of conflict between them. Focusing on mutual interests, doing a variety of team building activities, helping people see that they share the same human needs, activities that had them virtually walk in each other’s shoes, were all very effective approaches.
There was a lot of talk about how to handle bullies in classes with teenagers. Having them assist the facilitator (so s/he can keep a close watch on the behavior), giving them responsibility (since they may act as bullies to get attention), recognizing that they may not be bad children, just mirroring what they have possibly experienced themselves, and calling them on their behavior might be good solutions.
I suggested giving them a star for each day they “behaved” themselves, or giving team stars if everyone cooperates with each other. When a certain amount of stars are accrued, the individual and/or team would get a small prize or privilege. Nour said that he was dealing with teenagers, but Hala retorted that it didn’t matter. Given how the adults in the class went gaga over the small toys I’ve been handing out, even teenagers would be receptive to similar recognition and reward.
Oh, on a side note, Jamila told me happily that my advice to her yesterday had worked like a charm. She had told me that she is exhausted when she gets home after the long trip to and from the Syrian refugee camp, but she never has any time to decompress because her son jumps on her the minute she walks in the door. I had suggested that she talk with him (he is 8) and explain that she needs an hour to herself when she gets home. She said he gave her that hour, watching the digital clock to see when the hour would be up.
Later, the participants had to pull an object out of a bag and give a 2-minute presentation. Monther was hysterically funny. He began by asking if anyone in the room was stupid (1 person raised her hand!) Then he asked if anyone in the room hated to be around stupid people. (Almost all raised their hands). Next he produced a packet with a flair, explaining that it included pills of wisdom that they could purchase. Perhaps you had to be there, because I’m certainly not capturing his demeanor and timing. It was wonderful!
We only got through 10 presentations, so we need to finish with the remaining ten tomorrow morning. I told the group that we would begin exactly at 9 a.m. with Heba’s presentation- and if they wanted to show her respect, they would be in the room at that time. Hmmm, I guess we’ll see.