Day 6 of Train the Trainer for Mercy Corps in Amman
Today was the sixth and last day of Designing and Delivering Dynamic Learning for Mercy Corps in Amman.
I checked out and had a porter bring my two heavy bags and heavy carry on bag down to the training room. This involved going by elevator to the -2 floor, and then walking up steps. No way was I willing or able to do it myself. I gave him a good tip!
We began the session with Jeopardy, which they really enjoyed. They were able to answer most of the questions, which was very gratifying. One table ended up with 280 points, with the table closest to them earning 160 points. So you can tell that the winning table had either learned the content from the week very well or just on a hot streak! Actually, their ace in the hole was Aa’lia, who answered almost all of the questions for her table. At the end of the day, she got a perfect score on the posttest!
After receiving instructions and standing to give the feedback pledge, the group had 45 minutes to prepare their flip charts (since no PowerPoint was allowed). I watched with fascination as Dena wrote a complex word search puzzle on a flip chart. Yikes!
Everyone was very busy. Then 15 minutes before we were to begin, Dia came to me with a memory card for his activity. Somehow he had missed ALL of my warnings that only flip charts and handouts would be accepted. I don’t know how he expected me to do anything with a memory card and my MacBook Air, anyway. So he really had to hustle to create his flip charts. I don’t know if he was even able to take our 30-minute lunch, because he was in the room drawing when I came back into the classroom!
There were some absolutely wonderful activities that folks created. The highlights included the following;
Heba Asaad created a game about the seven factors of communication. She split the eight people into four teams. The A teams at each table were given play dough and a secret message they were supposed to communicate to the B team without writing out words.
Then she placed clown masks on the A team so, when the B team was asking closed questions to try to ferret out the message, they wouldn’t be able to read the body language of the A team, who could only nod yes or no. She then introduced a list of the seven factors and asked the participants to identify where each factor came into play. Just wonderful!
Dalia used an art project to deal with the issue of inter-gender violence in Jordan. She separated the participants into two table groups of 4, handed them a blank flipchart and asked each person to draw in a corner of the flipchart a picture of a good relationship between a man and a woman (husband/wife, father/daughter, brother/sister, etc.) Then she had the tables pass their flipchart to the other table and told them to “ruin” the relationship. When they had completed that, she had them pass the flipcharts back to the original tables. She first asked them how they had felt when they drew the good relationships (peaceful, happy, safe, loving) and next how they felt when they saw their ruined pictures (angry, hurt, sad, depressed). She used this to lead into a discussion of the nature of male/female relationships in Jordan and finally concluded with a passionate summary of the current level of violence, particularly against women.
Nour had a wonderful game to check the participants’ retention of the five interest based negotiation concepts: separate the people from the problem; focus on interests, not positions; generate options for mutual gain; rely on objective standards; and keep your Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA) in your hip pocket. She created a game “board” composed of squares of paper with different numbers on them, 1-10 I believe. She had two teams with four on one team and three on the other. The fourth person was given a special assignment.
She instructed team A to read a content card to team B. If the team B could answer it, they got the number of points represented by the number on the top of the “board” square (which had the correct answer written on the opposite side). If team B had difficulty answering the question, they could ask the special assignment person to read three options from which they could select an answer. If they selected the correct answer from the options, they got half of the points.
Unfortunately, because she was so conscious of the 10-minute time limit, she gave them written instructions but no time to read them. Her description of the instructions left them confused and the wording of the questions, with little time to read the English and reflect on the answer, led to a number of wrong answers. With changes to these issues, the game will be a great way to check their comprehension.
Morad created another terrific game on the subject of conflict management. He lined up the group on two sides of a masking tape line. He then instructed each side to do anything in their power to get the other side over to their side. It was fun to watch Nadia trying to entice MagD with koosh balls and prizes (she apparently told MagD that she would arrange for me to give the koosh balls to MagD!) Others pulled or pushed each other, tried reasoning, tried bribery. It was pretty noisy and chaotic.
Then he had them sit at the tables and review a list of 10 questions related to the activity, such as “what happened,” “why,” etc. After they answered the questions, they discussed their different observations and rationales. He ultimately related their answers and the experience to three key points. One of these was the importance of reflecting rather than reacting. Just great!
We kept to our planned time of 25 minutes per person, so we were able to take our half hour lunch break, return to the facilitated practice sessions and conclude that as planned by 3:40. Although they had one less person, for some reason the other room took longer.
I was heartbroken when I heard about their experience. A “master trainer” had been invited in to provide feedback. Apparently, he would jab out 5 fingers to let them know they only had 5 minutes left, and one finger when they had one minute left. But that wasn’t the problem. The problem was that he cut them down so much he brought many of the women to tears. Ahlam came in claiming that she would never do her activity again, because he had undercut her confidence so brutally. When both groups reconvened, I first apologized for their experience (the fellow was in the room with us but I don’t know if he was listening to my criticism- or maybe I was able to manage to stay somewhat diplomatic.)
I explained that the intention of the facilitation practice and feedback was to build their confidence in their own competence and creativity. I asked them if the feedback that they received from their peers was positive and helpful and they all agreed. So I told them to focus on that feedback and ignore anything else.
The debriefing discussion was best summarized by Aa’lia and Heba when they said with radiant smiles on their faces that they learned that they could create their own learning activities without relying on anyone else. Hurray!
This was such an appreciative, loving, creative and warm bunch. I always end these long programs with a celebration. I give them small bottles of bubbles and tell them to start blowing bubbles when I begin the music, which is ”Celebration” by Kool and the Gang. At some point, after they’ve been blowing bubbles for a while, I ask them to thank people in the class whose participation helped make their learning experience rich. They immediately went to each other and ultimately all came around me, blowing bubbles all over me and thanking me. It was lovely, if somewhat wet and soapy!
Then Zaid came to the front to thank me formally for coming to conduct the program- and to provide gifts from the class. First, he gave me a beautiful plaque with a mosaic of the tree of life in the middle. Then, two magnets of a Jordanian man and woman- very cute. Next, coasters with pictures from various places in Jordan. After than, an exquisite box with hand embroidery. And there was even more! A beautiful silken shawl. I was overwhelmed by their generosity.
We posed for funny group photos, then everyone zoomed around (mostly the women!) taking down the kites, gathering all the table toys, putting the markers back into their boxes, and literally packing me up! I need to take them everywhere!!
Then, to the fleet person provided by Mercy Corps for the 30+ minute drive to the airport. When we got there, I tried to give him a tip for carrying all three of the heavy bags to place them on a trolley, but he wouldn’t accept it.
Finding out where to go once I got inside the airport was a challenge, but I finally found out where to stand to go through a passport check, then where to go to stand in another line to get my ticket and hand over my luggage, (where some kind fellow standing behind me helped put my bag on the conveyer belt for me), then to another location to pay for the extra bag (at least they never weighed them, thank goodness!!!), then through a security check- and finally out to walk to the gate, after getting lost.
I found a non-smoking café and had a late dinner of chicken Caesar salad (I think my blood now runs with Caesar salad dressing!) and eventually went to my gate. My ticket said that we would board at 8:15. Nope. Not until 9:20-although that is actually when we got on a bus to go the plane. A man kindly gave up his seat for me, and then when we got to the airplane and had to climb lots of stairs, another man offered to carry it up for me. At one point I said that it was very heavy and he probably hadn’t realized what he was in for- and he agreed!
The good news is that I was able to start typing up this email during the waiting time in the airport. I also have a seat that has lots of legroom, just not much butt room!
I feel wonderful about my time in Amman and it sounds like Zaid would like to have me return. That would be lovely. I would just insist on having weekends to recuperate next time!
Now that the exhilaration has worn off, I’m exhausted. Time to pack up my laptop,