Laurel and Associates, Ltd. – Madison, WI

Deb in Amman 22

Deb in Amman 22

On April 8, 2012, Posted by , In Travelogue, By , With Comments Off on Deb in Amman 22


I got to bed at 4:30 a.m. on April 8th and slept through the day until 4:00 p.m. To say the least, I was exhausted.

I spent Saturday resting, reading, and reviewing some of the videos from the training the previous week. I also did light laundry, and sent other laundry to the cleaners. I like to avoid traveling with dirty clothing.
I also wrote to Trisha to see if she could find my cell phone in the suitcase she brought back for me from Nigeria. I have turned all four suitcases in my room inside out, looking for my cell phone. No dice.

After a month and a half without a cell phone (or with little use for one) I had totally forgotten that I am completely dependent on it for both personal and business calls. Jenny reminded me. I’m still waiting to hear back from Tricia after she goes through the suitcase. (This will be quite an endeavor, because it is packed to the brim.) I wish her (and me) luck!

If she can’t find it, I’ll have to talk with Seth to see if he can get me another phone ASAP. Good grief!

That is the last time I cavalierly stow a cell phone when I’m traveling and have no use for it…

Sunday was an office holiday. I worked most of the day writing feedback on lesson plans turned in late or needing additional notes- and then watched the videos from the first round of training. I took notes on the participants who had been taped in the two other rooms. Actually, on the participants in Room B who spoke in English.

Surprisingly, Iman, the trainer brought in to facilitate the feedback in that room, gave her feedback in Arabic- despite the fact that everyone else spoke English. However, that was really no problem. I quickly learned that if I didn’t want to spend the next 7 hours watching the videos, I would have to jump over the feedback portions.

Many of the participants were excellent. A few were not.

It was a beautiful day and I kept telling myself that I would go for a walk…in a little while. When I was done with the videos I could understand, I sat down to read- then lay down, and then fell asleep for a few hours. I guess it’s going to take a while before I catch up on my rest.

Then I started to pack in earnest. I had imagined, quite optimistically and unrealistically, that I would be going back to the States with a lot less than what I brought here. What I forgot was that I have to pack 4 huge Tinker Toy tubs, all the games I had brought to Lagos, plus all that I brought here. In addition, I purchased gifts and have more files to bring back with me.

Needless to say, packing four suitcases was quite an ordeal. I fear that all but one of them top out at over 80 pounds.

Packing kept me up until about 2 a.m. (perhaps you see a pattern that explains why I get so tired).

Deb in Amman, April 9

On Monday, I took Mona’s dry cleaned coat and scarf and my laptop. Tarek picked me up at 8 a.m., dropped me off at the office at 8:20. I rang the bell to get into the office- then rang and rang again. No one was there.

So I went and sat on a window ledge in the hall to write more feedback on some lesson plans. Yasmine arrived around 8:30, opened the door, and we discovered that yes, there were people there- in the far back. Who knows why they didn’t open the door!

I spent Monday working with Maha. First, she translated the lesson plans that were in Arabic, while I took notes and wrote my feedback. Then she translated the videos in Arabic from the first round, while I took notes and wrote my feedback. Then we looked at each video from the two other rooms so she could tell me the full names of the participants.

Then we found out that Maumoud had spent the weekend loading all of the videos from this past week onto one DVD. So, we repeated the process with all of those videos.

Then I went to the hotel and spent hours and hours typing up my feedback notes from the day’s work. Finally, I watched the videos in the room where the folks spoke English and took notes for my feedback. I discovered that three of the participants spoke in Arabic, so I would need Maha to translate those in addition to all of the videos in the Arabic speaking room.

That was also a very late night.

Deb in Amman, April 10

Today, Tuesday, is my last day in Amman. I spent the morning again with Maha, translating, writing my notes, and transcribing my feedback. I also spoke with Reem, who wanted ideas about how to use the activity she facilitated for a program at the beach with youth.

Her activity was wonderful. The topic was the tragedy of commons. No, I’ve never heard of it before, either. The basic idea is that we keep using up resources so there is none left for others.

To make this point, she had a bucket with marshmallows. She said these were fish. Half of the group was given straws (fishing poles). They were instructed to fish, taking one fish at a time.

They got a lot of the fish out, but some were left. Then she put more marshmallows in, to represent the reproduction of the fish. Next, everyone got to fish and, of course, the marshmallows were completely gone. That also meant that there were no fish to reproduce.

She told them that technology had no solutions to this problem and asked for other solutions. Once the group had brainstormed, she compared their answers to a prepared list.

So, next week she will do this activity for 30 youth at the beach. Her first idea was to use seawater and float ducks in it. Unfortunately, there is a dearth of plastic ducks or fish, so we discussed simply using balls. She’ll use scoops for the fishing poles.

It is such a terrific and creative activity, but Reem was very unsure about its value and appropriateness. So I had to spend some time building up her confidence. I know that she’ll be a wonderful hit. (She told me later that the conference folks are very excited about her activity. No wonder!)

At 10, we met with Fadi to design the half-day social media training portion of the social marketing program. That was incredibly instructive. I never knew there were group Facebook pages or fan pages, or what hash (marks?) mean in Twitter. Fadi told me about different social media tools I have never heard of before. It was utterly fascinating.

Then back to work typing up the feedback notes for the different training room videos.
Then lunch. Then Maha spoke with me about what else she needed from me. Oh boy!

I had known that they wanted a quick and easy guide reference to help people design training. To that end, I had created such a checklist that, along with a complete checklist for the sub steps in the seven-step lesson planning process, I had believed satisfied that requirement.

Nope. I still need to provide a lot more information about how to conduct needs assessments and how to evaluate training. They have a budget to purchase supplies, books and games, so I’ll also need to give them a shopping list specifically for the social marketing training.

I stole out of the office with Mohammed to go get potted plants and cakes to give to the folks at the office. It was a gorgeous day outside, so warm that my pant leg started to burn from the sunshine! We went quite a distance to a well-known florist, where Mohammed negotiated a discount for me when I purchased 7 potted azaleas that smelled heavenly. Each was wrapped in cellophane, given a colorful bow, and then my thank you note was attached. Two men helped to carry them out to the car.

Next on the agenda was to get cheesecake. That’s what Mohammed said we should get. We went to Paradise bakery, but no cheesecake. We settled for one chocolate cake and one caramel cake.

That was an interesting experience. After I paid, the man in the bakery took the cake boxes out to the car, while Mohammed watched from a distance, and put the cakes in the car. At that point, Mohammed locked it with his remote. Service people really serve!

We then went next door to a grocery because Mohammed said we needed to bring juice. We got 4 half gallons, which huge Mohammed carried in one arm!

It turns out that the bakery was just a few blocks away from the office. Mohammed and I carried up the plants, then Mohammed and Tarek went to bring up the cakes and juice.
In the meantime, I got knives, forks and plates from the kitchen and set them out in the conference room. Linda, the tiny housekeeper, brought in a tray of glasses. All of the plants were on the table, so it looked very festive and smelled wonderfully.

When the cakes and juice arrived, I gathered all of the staff (approximately 13- since a few were still in Aqaba for a conference). They loved everything. Photos were taken, I said some words of thanks- and handed the flowers to Lina, Maha, Yasmine, Mohammed and Tarek. One more was for Mona, who was still in Aqaba. Another was for Maumoud, who was on a well-deserved vacation. I had miscounted, so there was one extra. People fought over it and I suggested leaving it in the conference room. A final decision was made to give it to Reem, whose birthday is next week.

They have enough cake and juice to last them two more days…

Then, back to work.

Maha asked me if I would like to do some shopping for gifts and offered to take me for two hours after work. Then it turned out that Lina was planning to go shopping, so she would take me- at 4:30 pm. That meant I was working as fast as I could to finish up the feedback for the 20 folks who were not taped in my room last Thursday. I completed it just in time.
Lina took me to City Mall- to Claire’s and other stores we have in the States. So I didn’t buy anything. I was looking for jewelry for Jenny, but saw nothing she would like. I saw some wonderful hair clips, but since she is getting her hair cut today, I have no idea if there would be a use for them. (Silly me, eventually there will be- she always grows her hair long enough to cut it for locks of love).

I had a lovely chat with Lina, as I always do. What an incredible, beautiful, competent, loving young woman!

Back at the hotel, I checked my bill (everything looks good- and I wasn’t charged for the internet, despite confirming payment almost every day when I logged in). I sat down to write up the lesson plan and sent that off to Maha and Fadi.

Then I sent a thank you card to the six women who gave me lovely gifts. I also wrote a message to Karim and Mona touting Maha and Lina, who are workaholics and don’t get paid for all of their extra time and work.

Karim, gracious man that he is, had already sent me a lovely thank you. When I wrote back that it had been my pleasure and I hoped I could return again, his response was in Arabic, but I know what it means. I hope so!

Now, I’ve finished packing, finished the work I planned to do, had my last room service meal, and am writing to catch up with you.

I’ll call for the bellhop at 11:30 p.m. to help bring down the four suitcases (!). Mohammed will be here to pick me up at midnight to take me to the Queen Alia International Airport. My plane leaves at 2:45 a.m. on April 11th (can you believe that!!!).

My Lufthansa flight will arrive in Frankfurt at 6:25 a.m. I’ll have four hours in the airport until we depart at 10:40 a.m., arriving in Chicago at 12:40 p.m. on April 11th. Then I have a two-hour layover before we leave at 2:53 p.m., arriving in Madison at 3:41 p.m. That’s a whole lot of mileage for one day!

I just realized that I’ve told folks I’ll be getting in late on the 11th. Guess not. Although, since I don’t seem to be able to sleep on the plane, it will seem incredibly late to me!

So, that’s that. You’re all caught up.

Thank you for going on this journey with me- and for all your encouraging emails. I’ll send one more message, to report on the trip back.



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