Laurel and Associates, Ltd. – Madison, WI

Deb in Amman 13

Deb in Amman 13

On March 25, 2012, Posted by , In Travelogue, By , With Comments Off on Deb in Amman 13


This was my first day of the 5-day train the trainer: Designing and Delivering Dynamic Learning. This was also probably the 3rd time in 30 years of training that I did not complete the entire day’s scheduled content.

You may ask why and I will certainly tell you. Despite the fact that the training was publicized as being in English and despite the fact that the confirmation letter reaffirmed that the training would be in English- yes, you guessed it, there were at least 6 people who did not speak or understand English.

That meant that Maha D and Maha K were conscripted into translating all day, which was incredibly unfair to both of them. They had come as participants and were not able to participate. Other participants served as translators for people sitting next to them, so there was almost a continual buzz.

I had to speak very slowly and leave cartoons up for a while so they could read them and take a moment to understand them. With this and with the need for translation, the time for activities was doubled and often tripled. Simply having 30 people take a minute or so to introduce themselves ate up an hour alone. I can safely say that we are almost a half-day behind. I have to figure out how I’m going to handle it tomorrow so that we can catch up.

I didn’t feel that I could ask them to complete an evaluation form for today, since so much of the content is yet to be covered. They’ll just have to complete the evaluation forms for Day 1 and Day 2 tomorrow. However, I did have people vote with the fingers of one hand (5 fingers means everything is great, down to 1 finger (being careful what finger that is) and the response was very positive. In fact, one woman has already invited me to do something as yet unspecified tomorrow night. Isn’t that nice?

My day had started rather stressfully. Lina had said that she would pick me up at 7:45. When she wasn’t there at 8, I asked one of the men outside who worked for the hotel to call her (I at least had her number). I was planning to take a taxi and then realized that I didn’t remember the name of the training hotel (Quality Suites), which would have made that option somewhat problematic.

Luckily, Lina arrived about 8:10- and the training was supposed to begin at 8:30…
She told me that she had left her home at 7:15 but the traffic was terrible- and she expected that others would be late. Yes, they were, so we had to start late.

The group is very warm and welcoming and sincerely interested. They’re enjoying the candy and kites, taking photos of the agenda map, and even making things with the pipe cleaners. They get and laugh at most of my cartoons. Getting them to turn off their phones and not keep checking text messages is a small problem.

When we finally got to the training hotel, there were two participants already there who immediately volunteered to help with last minute preparations (such as putting out the candy). I noticed that three Koosh and a glitter wand I had left on my table were gone, as were three other Koosh from the tables. I was not happy about that, since they had assured us that the room would be locked and no one would be entering it for any reason.

Maha D. got the hotel management involved and, at the end of the day, they told us that they had a video of the exit to the room and knew who had taken the items. They promised they would be returned tomorrow.

I began the training day by saying ”hello” and “welcome” in Arabic. They appreciated that- and then I immediately explained that was the extent of my Arabic and they laughed. That’s not exactly true. Thanks to Mohammad the driver, I know how to say important things (if I look at my crib sheet). These include- “no problem,” “I am hungry,” “hello (which is different for a man and for a woman),” and “goodbye,” “I probably should learn how to say “I’m lost and need to get back to the Intercontinental Hotel.”

The lunch buffet was spectacular, starting with an entire turkey! There must have been 5 different salad or vegetable dishes, as well as pasta dishes, other meat, humus, several types of breads, and rice. There was also a huge table filled with about ten different types of desserts. The salad, vegetables, turkey and rice that I had were delicious.

Most if not all of the participants represent organizations, associations or USAID projects focused on water and energy conservation, women’s issues, children’s issues, and green building.

Oh, Wail (an older man) told me about demonstrating a solar oven at the Death Sea the other day for journalists. I don’t remember what he cooked, but it took just an hour using the sun’s energy. He told me that Jordan is not interested in nuclear power since solar power is so much safer- and Jordan has mostly sunny days.

There was another interesting conversation after I mentioned coming from Nigeria. Mohammad and Wail made a comparison between the level of graft in Nigeria (very high) and in Jordan (not half as high) as well as the level of danger (as I’ve written, it’s unwise to walk alone in Nigeria) while most areas are very safe in Jordan.

Both of these men are engineers who travel all over the world. Wail had just returned from Libya, which he said needs everything- referring to organization, technology, etc.

Mohammad the driver picked me up at the hotel and took me “home.” When I told him about the stressful morning, bless his heart, he arranged for Tarek, the other driver, to pick me up tomorrow instead of Lina, with her approval. Hear me breathe a sigh of relief!

I told Mohammad about going out for shwarma with Lina the night before and he showed me a place that is just a block from the hotel, should I ever want any more. I asked him where the best place was to have mansaf, which is a national food made of lamb, vegetables and yogurt. He offered to take me to a restaurant that serves it tomorrow! So you see how generous and kind everyone seems to be.

One glaring exception is the woman who takes our room number when we go into the breakfast buffet. Whereas the entire staff at the hotel in Nigeria were always smiling and greeting everyone in a very friendly and warm way, this woman is sullen and stolid and very unwelcoming. She is very definitely not a happy camper.

It’s really surprising, because even the people who screen us upon entry to the hotel smile and are very pleasant and friendly.

Oh, it was a nice surprise last night when I got into the shower. The housekeeper had left Dead Sea mud hair and body gel products for me in place of the standard (and quite nice) hotel issued products. I leave a good tip every day, which probably accounts in large part for this gesture.

I also had purchased and have been using some Dead Sea soft mud soap (although it is dark like mud, it doesn’t smell or feel that way) so that may have prompted the change. These products are supposed to have lots of good nutrients and minerals. I used some Dead Sea body lotion on my sunburn and it took the sting out immediately. I don’t look like a half boiled lobster any more. (The sunburn wasn’t that bad, but pretty close).

Well, I had better start work on tomorrow’s lesson before I get ready for bed. I’m totally pooped from today.



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