Laurel and Associates, Ltd. – Madison, WI

Deb in Amman

Deb in Amman

On March 28, 2012, Posted by , In Travelogue, By , With Comments Off on Deb in Amman

Now both Banyan Global (Nigeria USAID) and Ecodit (Jordan USAID) have disavowed any responsibility for the ticket I had to purchase to leave Lagos and get off in Amsterdam so I could get the flight to Jordan. That ticket cost me over $1200 (Dutch Airlines really gouged me!) I certainly do not plan to get stuck with that charge. I wrote to both groups telling them it was unfair to expect me to be responsible for the ticket- and that I expected them to work it out between them.

That was one of the items on my to do list last night. I also spent over an hour creating a lesson plan for a two day compressed train the trainer program for the Jordan PAP staff, which I sent to Karim El-Jisr for approval.

Tonight, I found some email from Mona indicating that some of the staff would be attending the full train the trainer next week- and the rest of the staff would be out of the city the following week (when this proposed 2-day session was to be scheduled).
So, it turns out that I will not need to give that training, so I will not need to prepare the materials.

The training today went very well, with two glaring exceptions. First, just after we ended the session, the hotel staff came to tell us that we would have to tear down EVERYTHING because they had scheduled a wedding for that evening. I couldn’t believe it! If they had told us this in the morning, we could have had staff on hand to help us- and we would have asked the participants to clear their tables.

So, we had to take everything off six tables (candy, Koosh, pipe cleaners, index cards, glitter wands, dice, table tent name cards, post-it notes, markers, highlighters, and binders, etc.) We had to take all of the peripherals off the walls: the huge agenda map, the kites, and the various quotes from different trainers. We had to remove everything from my training table and from below it (four huge containers of Tinker Toys, training masters, lesson plans, evaluations from the past three days, my own Koosh balls, index cards, glitter wand, post it notes, note pad, pens, pencils, markers, extra materials, binders, prizes, etc. etc.

Everything was ultimately unceremoniously dumped into two different suitcases and a big box. This means that I will need to get there tomorrow at 7 a.m. to first sort through everything and then set up all over again- only to take everything down the end of the day for the weekend. What a royal pain in the butt.

Second, my 8-year-old iPod died just as the class was starting. I really depend on the music to keep my own energy up (I play music softly during training time and select upbeat music to play more loudly at breaks). Lina took it with her, hopefully to find someone who can repair it. Barring that, I’m going to have to purchase a new one here- I can’t possibly conduct a five-day train the trainer class without one. I only hope there is one for sale here in Amman. I’m going to check on line after I send this email.

Last night, I reviewed 13 lesson plans (there are still 15 outstanding- and if they don’t turn them in, the participants will not get a certificate of completion). To a great extent, the lesson plans were very good. A number of them included creative learning activities. The only issue was that sometimes the activities really didn’t achieve the relevant learning objective. The participants also tended to severely underestimate the time involved for these activities.

For example, one woman wants to have her 15 participants draw themselves as a vehicle, food or animal. She planned only 3 minutes for this activity. My experience tells me that people often need 5 minutes alone to wrap their minds around viewing themselves from this perspective, and a good 5 to 10 minutes to draw and then write down the features and characteristics of their drawing.

She also allocated only1 minute for each person to present and discuss their drawing. I haven’t met ANYONE who can do this in 1 minute- I don’t care what continent they live on!

So I spent some time writing suggestions and comments on the lesson plans. Today, it was clear that no one could read my writing- so I ended up having 13 conversations throughout the day. They sincerely want to understand and to write a good lesson plan, and I appreciate that. And, it would be nice every now and then to have a break where I can sit down and relax instead of coaching, problem solving, or arranging the next activity.

Tonight, I think I have four or five more to review. I guess we’ll see if the others turn them in.

Two very sweet things happened today. One woman told me that she had discussed it with her husband and children and they all invited me into their home sometime this weekend. Isn’t that lovely?

Another woman, who is a real character and lots of fun, came up to ask me what color I preferred: dark blue, green or orange. I told her that I like all of those colors. I’m intrigued to see what she is planning to do with this information.

It turns out that I will be going to Petra and Aqaba (where I can snorkel in the Red Sea) next weekend rather than tomorrow night. That is just as well, because I am going to need Friday to sleep, relax, read and go for a walk. Saturday I may go to Arawa’s house I the morning and then, late afternoon, back to the Quality Suites to set up for the next round of training. It’s too bad their weekends aren’t 3 or 4 days long- but of course, that would also be nice in the US.


Random thoughts:

I didn’t mention in my email yesterday that if there were going to be a lot of participants who don’t speak English in next week’s class, Mona would hire a person to do simultaneous translation into headphones- and we would have a split screen, with an English version of the PowerPoint on one side and an Arab version on the left. This would have been an incredibly pricey undertaking- a good 10,000 JD, which is approximately $10,500.

It’s time for me to finish work and get to bed, since I have to get up so early tomorrow. I’m looking forward to seeing their 10-minute facilitated learning activities. Given their creativity, these should be something!



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