Laurel and Associates, Ltd. – Madison, WI

Deb in Amman 14

Deb in Amman 14

On March 27, 2012, Posted by , In Travelogue, By , With Comments Off on Deb in Amman 14


I didn’t write yesterday because I was just too tired. It took until just before lunch to complete the Day One content (designing learning objectives). Since lunch is at 1 p.m. and the class ends at 4 p.m., I had less than 2.5 hours to cram in the relevant Day Two content. Talk about pressure and stress. Luckily, Day Two is a relatively light day, otherwise I never could have accomplished it.

Yesterday, I laid down the law in the morning- that I could not cover the content adequately if folks didn’t get there on time. We are scheduled to start at 8:30 am and some folks don’t get there until 8:50 am or later. They are also rather lackadaisical in coming back from their 10-minute break (which is actually ridiculous, since the break food and beverage is situated in another space in the same large room.

We discussed options (starting and ending later), which was not happy for the many women who needed to pick up their babies (their husbands just don’t do that or much else, if anything, to assist with domestic chores). Everyone agreed that they would be there at 8:30.

Today, 8 people were there on time and it wasn’t until 8:55 that we had most of the class. I was not a happy camper at all, so we discussed it again. People claimed difficulty with traffic (which is a real issue) but others just advised folks to leave earlier.

Anyway, we accomplished most of the content and activities- and then I went back to the hotel and completely collapsed. I did try to figure out a way to accomplish the content that Kazim and Mona want for the staff train the trainer and determined there was no possible way to achieve that in one day.

I discussed this with Maha D, who recommended that I send Kazim an outline that indicates the time required- and if I made the program start at 9 and end at 3 everyday, there was a good possibility he might approve the second day.

The good news is that Tarek now picks me up every day by 8 am or a little after, and he knows shortcuts that get us to the Quality Suites in 10 minutes!! So at least that stress is gone.

Today is the third day of the train the trainer and it is lots of fun. We started with a bingo-like game with questions related to the content from the first two days. They had never played this before and man, did they get into it. Of course, it was only supposed to take, at maximum, 30 minutes- and with this crew I had to stop them after an hour.

The high level of excitement, humor, competition and pure energy continued and spiked several times throughout the day.
Our process for the day was to experience a participatory activity, assess it, review a reference about it (that laid out what it was, how to use it, how long it might take, what its benefits were, which levels of learning were best achieved with the activity, and which learning styles were most appreciative of the activity), create it with the entire class, and then create another one individually (except for those who needed to work together for translation purposes).

We began with a focus question, then a questionnaire, a case study, a game (a relay race), and a role play/simulation activity (using Tinker Toys to make a merry-go-round). After I drew answers from the group to model how to create an activity, I would give them only 10-12 minutes to create their own.

They were wonderfully imaginative. And almost all of them volunteer to report their activity because I reward them with devil ducks, clappers, ecology ducks and/or Smartie candy.

They were amazed that participatory activities; (1) do not have to cost a thing, (2) are fun and easy to design, and (3) can be created in a very short time. Each of them left the class today with a focus question, questionnaire, case study and game they had created and can now use in their own training programs.

Tonight, I have yet to read all thirty of the complete lesson plans that they had for home practice last night. They had the choice of using a table lesson plan template or an outline lesson plan template. A complete lesson plan should include: title, learning goals (what the participants will learn and why they would care about it), learning objectives including key content, learning level and active verb), agenda, learning activities, AV, handouts and how the learning will be evaluated. I sure hope they’re great…

There is one woman in the class, whose name I don’t know, and whose English is very spotty- who is also just brilliant. She has comments and questions about absolutely everything, talks to me at almost every break, and has given me new perspectives on a number of things, bless her heart.

The group is very astute. It’s exciting to hear the comments of the folks who speak in Arabic, because I am continually amazed at how well they comprehend and can apply the content (once I hear the translation). Lots write kind notes and thank you’s on the evaluation forms.

The home practice for tonight is for the participants to identify a metaphor to use in their training to bring it alive, and then further enrich it with enhancements that engage as many senses as possible (to create an accelerated learning program). After their amazing game ideas, I expect great things from them!

Mona came to lunch to discuss the issues with the group (to try to minimize them with the next class). When I told her that the need for translation was eating up lots of training time, she went on an attack mode (haven’t you ever training in another country before?) My immediate response was that yes, I had, and we had had a translator in the room. The difference with this program is that the non-English speakers were unexpected and therefore, not accommodated. To which she replied that this always happens here in Jordan. And my response: then there should have been a translator scheduled and available.

We reached détente and ate lunch together. The warm person emerged and she talked about her concern for my health- and being able to relax on the weekend. I told her my health was fine, I was just completely exhausted. I also told her I was interested in going to Petra this weekend- and that Omar, the taxi driver who took me to the Dead Sea, had suggested sleeping in Wadi Rum on the way.

Mona got a strange look on her face. She then explained that I would have choices for sleeping arrangements. I could have my own tent (keeping in mind that it gets below freezing at night in the desert) and then share a bathroom with both men and women. If I didn’t wake up real early to get in the shower, I was likely to have only a trickle of water when it came my turn. She told me that this was the deluxe option!!!

The other option was to sleep in a huge tent with lots of men, women and children.

I think I’ll pass and just go straight to Petra…

One plan Mona had was to translate as much of the training as possible into Arabic for next Sunday. She asked me for the Power Point and sent some kind of USB device along with Mohammad for me to upload the program for him to take back to the office. Maha D and I discussed the fact that there were templates and documents that the participants really needed (since there is very little narrative on the slides). I ended up using my own thumb drive (since hers wouldn’t accept any transferred files) to give her about ten documents for translation.

I know that Lina will call me tomorrow to find out what to do with these documents.

There was a (black humor) funny moment today when Reena told me that she has to give three training programs in a row out in a distant village next week. She wanted to know how to keep her energy up. (The black humor part of this is that I was barely able to stand while we spoke!!!) So I told her the tricks I know: avoid caffeine and sugar (because then you crash and feel worse afterwards), drink water continually to stay hydrated, try to find some quiet time (at breaks or at lunch, eating by yourself if at all possible) as well as an acting trick of swinging your arms as you bend over several times in a row.

I promised her that we would discuss this tomorrow, although with how to manage nervousness in front of a group.

Random thoughts:

I may have mentioned the incredibly tall man dressed as a Bedouin who serves coffee from a very ornate pitcher in the front lobby. Well, yesterday he was there and I decided to ask him if I could take his picture. He was very sweet and seemed very young. He let me take two pictures, then gestured for the camera- and took a photo of me!

The lobby is decorated with towering vases of roses, orchids and other flowers. Just exquisite.

The “turkey” I ate turned out to be lamb, which doesn’t taste gamy the way I have experienced lamb in the states. It really has the texture of dark meat from a turkey.

My beautiful rose bud is still beautiful.

I wore a hot pick crinkle skirt with sequins on it today- and one woman came up to tell me how much she loved the colors I wear.

Lots of participants are making pipe cleaner creations. I take photos of them, to send with the photos of the flipchart work. I also have been taking photos of the groups when they work on a game or a project- they are so wonderfully animated. This also means that I’ll be able to show folks at home pictures of the different types of head coverings worn by the women.

Some wear the scarf very tight on their head (like it’s elastic, it’s so form fitting). Some wear scarves that flow around their faces and puddle below their necks in a beautifully graceful way. One woman wears what almost looks like a bonnet, except that it is tight around her face and neck.

That reminds me of a conversation I had with Mohammad the driver yesterday. He is very unhappy about the women who wear the headscarves but then wear revealing clothing. That is not the Islamic way! His wife stays properly covered and so should they.

Tonight, as I trudged back to the hotel, there was a woman in front of me covered from head to toe in the black full tent-like dress. As she walked, I noticed that she had on bright bright red slacks and very high heels.

It is so strange to watch the news and see men wearing long (I guess I would call them dresses) with various head coverings. Some are quite rakish, some are anchored with a black round band (sometimes two black bands), some are long, some are checkered (that indicates Jordan), some are white or black (Palestinian or Saudi). Many wear suit coats over this costume. It really takes some getting used to!

My latest technological accomplishment is learning how to unlock my phone (don’t ask) and also (as of this morning) how to silence and then unmute my phone. I may actually learn how to make or receive a phone call by the time I leave…

I’m sure that there is plenty more from the past two days, but it’s 10 pm. And I still haven’t read the thirty lesson plans. Definitely no rest for the weary.



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