Laurel and Associates, Ltd. – Madison, WI

Deb in Amman 19

Deb in Amman 19

On April 1, 2012, Posted by , In Travelogue, By , With Comments Off on Deb in Amman 19


Sorry about last night. The first day of training (31 people!!) tired me out. For the first time this entire trip, I lay down on the bed to read and fell asleep for several hours.

Again, we had at least 6 people who didn’t speak English. However, this time we had three staff there to help with translations.

We didn’t finish the day (as with the last group) but at least this time I was prepared. I didn’t get stressed, because I knew we would be able to finish today. And we did.

This group has a lot of high level (chief of party) folks who have a lot to say .:-) They are also very bright and wonderfully creative. I think this is due, in part, to the fact that I have several folks who teach children. As a result, they have used interactive learning activities already.

The sad thing is that, when we arrived on Sunday, three glitter wands and three Koosh balls were missing. Sunday, after the training was over, I collected and hid the remaining wands and Koosh. Today, Monday, when I arrived, I discovered that all of our candy had been taken. So, this evening, I hid that- and had some very stern words with the manager of the hotel.

Tarek the driver went to get replacement wands and Koosh. What he found were apple-sized latex balls with faces and tentacles- that light up! He also found wands that light up. The participants certainly did know the difference- and had a ball with them.

Today, I spoke with the group about some of the evaluation comments from Day One. One person wanted to have had the materials ahead of time. I discussed the problem with this- that few people read the materials and some people even forget to bring them.

Another person wanted me to use “simple English.” I promised to pay attention to the words I chose to use. I also told them that we had a learning contract, in that they were to tell me as soon as possible when there was any concern or difficulty. Waiting until the end of the training day made me feel terrible- had I known earlier, I could have adjusted.
Hopefully, that point was made.

To complete the Day One content, we worked with designing learning objectives using two templates I provided: one for skill-building training and the other for attitude-changing training. First, we reviewed the 4 examples in their manual. Then, drawing information from the group, I modeled how to identify the key content, determine the desired learning levels for each key content item, and plug in an active verb to convert the key content into skill-building learning objectives. We did this with two examples.

After reviewing 3 examples in their manual, we worked with the attitude-changing template for one example. Now it was their turn to work in their groups to create the learning goals and learning objectives for a topic of their choosing. Every group chose a topic related to energy conservation (not surprising, since that is the mission of Jordan PAP and these were representatives from either donor groups or grantees). I wanted to ensure that they worked with the correct template (since one or two groups last time got confused). They all reported that they would be working with the attitude-changing template.

Five of the six groups got it exactly right. One group was a stitch. Their topic was solid waste disposal. While they waited for other groups to finish, they created “solid waste” consisting of an ecology duck inside a large water bottle, a trashcan with decorative trash, etc. etc. What a riot!

The sixth group (somewhat bullied by a supervisor person, I believe) got it absolutely, utterly wrong. There were two major problems: first, he had his own ideas about how the topic should be taught, so he went off on lots of tangents. Second, their program was really a skill building one, but they had used the attitude-changing template.

When I tried to coach them to the correct approach, the supervisor started to argue with me and said point blank that he did not agree with my approach. At this point, I interrupted him and simply said that I was not going to argue with him. Then I called on the next group to report out.

After the break, I discussed the need to reteach this section to make sure everyone was on board. This group was seated at the back, so I worked with flip charts at the back that were right next to them. There was a little confusion, but with some expert translation (thank you, Maha!!) they finally got it. I rewarded them all with devil ducks (upon their request).

What was incredibly gratifying was that, when we worked on the next step in the lesson design process (create the agenda), this group chose to create brand new goals, learning objectives, as well as the agenda. Not only did they do it perfectly, they did it in 15 minutes! Talk about being committed to learning and applying what they learned!

For home practice, everyone is to create a complete lesson plan (with goals, learning objectives, learning activities, handouts, and means of evaluation. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that all of the time we have invested will be reflected in their results.

At the end of the day, when they each stood to report their key take away, this supervisor admitted that he essentially had seen the light and saw the importance of a clear lesson plan structure and participatory activities. Hurray!!!

After creating agendas, the next step in the lesson plan process was to select learning activities that would achieve the desired learning levels for each learning objective. We discussed ten different categories of participatory learning activities. When I asked if anyone had used art, 7 people raised their hands and described wonderfully creative activities! That was a first for me, to say the least.

They had great examples for dramatizations, games, role-plays, etc. As a matter of fact, they described activities that I plan to have them do tomorrow, just with minor differences.

One example: tomorrow, I will have them build a merry-go-round out of Tinker Toys. One woman described an activity in which participants have to create a structure out of marshmallows, spaghetti and tape. Same focus, just different materials.

When I asked if anyone used a debate as a learning activity, their responses indicated something much more formal- more in line with teaching how to debate and then rating the debate.

So I decided to show them what I meant when I referred to a debate. I assigned half the group to come up with a few reasons in support of lecture, and the other half to come up with reasons against using lecture. They only have 3 minutes to jot down their ideas on note cards. Then I asked for a volunteer from each group to debate (and easily got two women who wanted the devil ducks!)

We created a debate in a fishbowl, with the debaters in the middle and their teams surrounding them. The teams really got into cheering on their representatives and everyone had a great time. I just know they are going to go crazy with the relay race tomorrow. This group will love all of the activities and games.

As a matter of fact, when they were asked to select a topic and decide what learning activities would meet the needs of six different learning styles (visual, aural, interactive, print, haptic and kinesthetic) they all wanted to have the rest of the group act out their activities! Would that we had had enough time.

Oh, I didn’t mention that Jafa (that’s actually the correct spelling of his name) was able to attend (as one of the non-English speaking folks). He had a radiant smile all day and thanked me several times.

Today, one woman brought her sister and a man brought another man to the training. The man sat at a front table and gave me a huge smile every time I looked his way.

At lunch, one of the men, who is chief of party of a large association, asked me if I would be interested in conducting a twelve-day train the trainer in May. He is going to send me the RFP information.

Another woman invited me to go with her tomorrow after the training to see the downtown. I had thought Rainbow Street was downtown, but apparently it isn’t. When I asked one young woman where the downtown was, she giggled and said “Downtown.” Yup, it was a pretty pointless question to ask!

I can’t imagine this happening anywhere in the States, but a young man told the giggling woman (who was exquisite) that she had gained weight since she had her child 6 months ago! When I said she looked lovely and where did he get off telling her that, he agreed she looked lovely. And all she said was that they worked together. Hmm.

By the way, he is Christian and, according to the young woman (Sireen), quite a Don Juan. Although how he could possibly be one with all of the Muslim women living with their families I have no idea.

He said that if he had been Muslim, by now he would have 4 wives. That prompted Sireen to say that her father-in-law has 9 wives! That reminded me that when the PAP team went to interview villagers near the dried up springs, they met a man who has 97 children!!! You know he didn’t manage that with just one wife!

Sireen explained that the culture was changing and most young couples are content with only having each other.

All I can say is that maintaining a relationship with one spouse is hard enough. Goodness knows how these men budget their time between the wives- and where they get all of that energy. It exhausts me just to think about it!

At the end of both days, a number of participants have come up to thank me and tell me how much they are enjoying the training and learning.

Today, after one young woman thanked me, I told her how beautiful her headscarf was. She immediately asked me if she should bring me one. I tried to tell her that wasn’t necessary, but she already had a plan. So I told her, then she is going to have to show me how to wear it. I may look like many other Moslem women tomorrow…

Coincidentally, I had asked Maha earlier whether they draped the scarves or if they came draped. No, they drape it and secure it with one pin. She also told me that the elastic looking band that covers their foreheads and shows under the scarf is actually a cap that covers their entire head.

When I’m back in the States, it’s going to seem strange not to see women with their heads covered and frequently wearing coats covering their clothing all day long.

On the way back to the hotel after the training, Tarek told me that he had to swing by the PAP office to pick up Pritti (sp?) She is a communications consultant who flew in two days ago from Seattle (a 20 hour flight!!)

She told me that she had just had the meeting from hell. She had asked me if I planned to go to dinner with others tonight at a restaurant Mona had selected. Since I had discovered there would be a lot of shisha being smoked, I begged off. Then she told me that every one of the men in the daylong meeting had chain-smoked. They had been told to attend by USAID, but they saw no value in learning how to create a communications plan. So they all held side conversations. The poor woman.

At least I have authority as the trainer and, if worse comes to worse, can through Koosh at folks. She certainly couldn’t do that, particularly since these were all chiefs of party.

Today was so beautiful that I went for a walk after I got back to the hotel. I walked to the grocery store, about 6 or so blocks away, to pick up sparkling water and peanut butter.

When I got back to the hotel, it was time to send my laundry (and Mona’s jacket and scarf) out for cleaning, and to wash my light items.

Random thoughts:

Yesterday morning, I have never seen so many people. There was a group of middle aged (if that’s what I am?) people from Utah- there must have been at least 40 of them- here for a tour to Petra. It was impossible to get to the chef who makes omelets and other egg dishes. I almost couldn’t even get to my granola, fruit and yogurt. The staff couldn’t keep up- either with replenishing the food or resetting tables.

There were two air force men seated next to me and one said that he was there every other month or so and he had never seen such a crowd.

When Arwa was driving me from my hotel to her flat on Friday, we passed a man in an orange jump suit sweeping the street (with a hand broom). She said she really liked these folks, who were there keeping the streets clean no matter what the weather. She explained that few people were interested in being garbage men. It seemed beneath them. However, since they changed the title of the position to city worker and increased the salary, people with higher degrees are now taking the jobs.

Let me close by saying that I love training and I am really enjoying this adventure.



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