Day One of TOT in Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Today was Day One of a two-day Technical Trainers’ Toolbox in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
I had really been worried that the participants, all of whom are scientists with doctorates, would be put off by my butterfly and fish kites and the Koosh and other toys on the tables.
Boy, was I wrong! They loved the toys and the colors! They threw Koosh balls at each other over the breaks and at least one of the women started to dance to the music. They like how cozy the kites make the room feel.
Participatory training is completely new to most of them, so it was an interesting day. We built lesson plans for two of their work topics: climate control models and soil salinity mapping. My client is the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture and the participants were from many different countries: Pakistan, Tunisia, Syria, Morocco, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Greece and Great Britain are those that I can remember.
This was a jam-packed day of lesson design content, but we somehow managed to complete it by 4 p.m., since people had to leave to pick up children, etc. Writing on the flip charts was somewhat challenging because they kept rolling away. I also had to read the cartoons and materials very slowly, with great emphasis, so that everyone could understand. However, that surprised me because it would seem that English is the only common language they possess.
Speaking of children, this is the second time on this trip that a female participant has asked me how to handle issues with their children (specifically, with their young male children). I’m not sure why they think I would have any useful information, but I try to be as helpful as I can. In her case, she is spoiling her two sons because she feels guilty about leaving them so she can go to work. I suggested that she negotiate a contract with them, describing the behavior that was acceptable, identifying the consequences for poor behavior, and defining privileges or rewards for a week of good behavior. I don’t get the sense that she is going to do anything differently, however.
I can see how cold it is in Wisconsin and have read about the upcoming blizzard for the East Coast. Today in Dubai was sunny, probably in the low 70’s with a nice breeze- it felt like spring to me, although it is really their winter! I went outside whenever I could and even opened doors to the outside when the room got too warm and stuffy. It turns out that they had not been running the air conditioner because it is noisy. They finally turned it on and my kite butterflies started to flap in the breeze. I thought they were going to fly!
The poor IT guy. I was able to set up the USB connection with the projector all by myself. When he came to check on me, he noticed that I was playing my iPod and asked if I would like to broadcast it through speakers in the room. Again, my Mac was incompatible with their system, so he solved the problem by placing a microphone in front of the iPod. I thought that this made the sound rather tinny and told him I’d prefer to keep things simple. I think that my refusal to play with his toys is depressing him, although he is too gracious to say anything. He just continues to offer other bells and whistles.
On my way home, I asked my driver if he would be willing to take me to an exchange so that I could convert my money. I didn’t realize that we would have to travel the distance we went, but I was glad to get the money (181 AED in exchange for $50 USD!) This also gave me an opportunity to see another part of Dubai. This must have been an open market, because men were pulling huge carts laden with tomatoes or lettuce, etc. My driver was masterful, threading his way behind lots of cars parked in our path, avoiding hitting more than one person who jumped out in front of him, etc. By the way, they drive VERY fast. I have not seen any posted speed limits, which probably explains that.
On the drive back to my hotel, we went by a large-ish body of water that had a large flock of flamingoes. I also saw beautiful flowering hedges, graceful minarets, fountains, roads bordered by densely planted palm trees or shade trees, and what must be the Dubai skyline. I’m going to ask the folks tomorrow what I should plan to do for my day or so of “free time.”
Just looking at the brochures in the lobby, there is a Dubai Dolphinarium, museums, tours of Abu Dhabi, a 6 emirates tour, dinner in the desert, the Global Village (the “largest open-air cultural and entertainment venue in the Middle East”), a Dubai city tour, Dubai at night, dinner cruises, and desert dunes tours and safaris that promise “thrilling desert bashing,” whatever that means, a camel ride, sheesha, henna painting, belly dance, sand boarding, sunset photography, a tanura show – whatever that is, and a bbq buffet dinner.
I’ll be lucky if I have time for one or two of these!
I was delighted to discover that the two issues with my bathroom that I had told reception about this morning had been addressed. They had replaced the burnt out light over the sink and they had fixed the shower, so hopefully I’ll be able to take one without standing under a dribble.
I have continued my routine diet of fruit salad (minus nuts, since none were on offer) for breakfast and a chicken Caesar salad for dinner. Their herb-roasted chicken is absolutely delicious! This morning, I also swiped some fruit and a chocolate muffin that was filled with liquid dark chocolate- really luscious. My lunch was a 6” turkey sandwich from Subway. There is no tea or pastry table. I was really spoiled by the Jordan experience!!
The good news is that my Nook and phone are now keeping their charges as they have always done in the past. There must have been some problem with my converter or with the current in the Amman hotel. I’m very relieved, particularly in anticipation of my very long flight home.
I’m very tired (I think it’s going to take a while before I recover from my travel from Amman). It is now 8:50 p.m. in Dubai, while it is 10:50 a.m. in Wisconsin.
Good night, or good morning, depending upon where you are!