Laurel and Associates, Ltd. – Madison, WI

Lagos, Nigeria

Lagos, Nigeria

On March 7, 2012, Posted by , In Travelogue, With Comments Off on Lagos, Nigeria

Today was another exhausting but extremely exhilarating day.

Driving to the hotel, we see children of all ages dressed in different colored school uniforms. Tiny tots walk holding hands with older siblings, parents or grandparents. The children also dart through the traffic, which is incredibly scary!

I’m rethinking my statement that Lagos has many slums. The more frequently we drive down the same streets and through the same neighborhoods, I’m realizing that the concrete and rust (from the salty ocean air) are just part and parcel of the urban environment. Yes, there are open air shops that sell everything: toys, plantains, tires, groceries- and folks are also sitting under umbrellas, but that is the nature of the small businesses. It is continually amazing to see women, children and some men walking with huge bowls on their heads, filled with fruits, appliances, breads, ice and water! My gosh their necks must be incredibly strong- and their posture very erect.
Women carry their children in a huge sash that goes over their breasts, with the child held close next to their back.
At the beginning of the training day, I had a frank conversation with the group about the need to set strict time limits on activities so we could avoid a recurrence of the late day yesterday. They agreed and, to a great extent, complied.

They are so into the training- they take photos every time I show a cartoon on the Power Point, they stand next to me for pictures, every activity we do, someone is taking a picture. Since today focused on interactive learning activities, they had a lot to photograph.

Before I forget, they were each given a clear plastic letter-sized case that included a small notebook, a pencil, a square flat eraser, and a razor blade to use for sharpening the pencil. We need to clear off the pencil shavings from the tables after each training day.

I used a bingo-like game- and had to explain what bingo was. They had a blast.  We also used tinker toys to create merry-go-rounds  and they were very creative in their building- although I wouldn’t want to ride on any of them if they were life size!

It was very gratifying to review their home practice, which was to create the title, learning goals and learning objectives as the first part of a lesson plan. They all got it!! Later, in debriefing a case study about a trainer who lectured for 2 hours, it was great to hear their suggestions as to what the trainer did incorrectly and what many changes that trainer would need to make to set the learners up for success.

At one point, the three table groups worked to identify learning activities for a lesson on minimizing the risk of infectious diseases. One group knocked my socks off with their creativity. To introduce the concept of an infectious disease, they created a simple game- their participants, sitting at tables, were to pass around small pieces of paper. Several of those pieces of paper had a dot on it, signifying an infectious disease. Once everyone had their piece of paper, the individuals with the dots were to raise their hand- and then identify all of the people with whom they had come in contact. What an imaginative way to lead into a definition of infectious disease.
They took to heart the idea of meeting the needs of different learning styles. For example, to check participant comprehension of which diseases were infectious, they planned to state a disease and have the participants move to the right of the room if they thought it was infectious and to the left if they thought it wasn’t infectious.
Another group loved using pop ups to check for comprehension and built in a requirement for an action plan at the end. I am so impressed with how quickly they not only absorbed the idea of participatory learning but also immediately applied what they had learned in their lesson planning process. Yup, very gratifying.

Another nice thing about today is that I had much less trouble understanding folks when they spoke. Yesterday, there were times I simply had no idea what had been said. Today, my ability to comprehend their cadences (which are somewhat British and very lovely) increased geometrically. By the time I leave next Wednesday, I may even understand a good 90-95% of what is said!

Morning “tea” happens during one of the breaks in the morning and includes some pastry with meat. The afternoon tea break yesterday included what looked like plain cupcakes and round flat cakes. I tried one of the latter, which tasted somewhat like very very dry corn bread. Not my favorite (I’m a chocolate and nuts girl).  Today, it looked like some kind of egg roll with what I imagine was very very hot dipping sauce. Lunch was better for me today because we ordered individually rather than having a buffet. I had chicken and chips (french fries) and cole slaw.

Interestingly enough, on our way to the training hotel a fellow passed by on a scooter with an enormous basket behind him on which were tied a pile of live very scrawny looking chickens! I’m wondering whether one of those provided my lunch. We also passed a statue of representatives of the three tribes (?) of Nigeria, each wearing native dress, holding up Nigeria.

Speaking of native dress, Tricia (my US contact who is here with me, thank goodness, and great company and help!) told me that Fridays are native dress days. I can’t wait to have an entire room ful of folks in their native dress. Since they’ve been taking pictures of me every day, turn around will be fair play when I take photos of them!

Additional random facts. The training hotel is using its back up generator to ensure that we don’t lose power, since the electricity goes on and off very frequently. It happened at my hotel this morning just when I was going to get dressed. It’s very hard to get dressed when you can’t see in front of you! But the power came on very quickly.
When it rains, as it did yesterday and today, there is a sudden downpour and you hear the thundering drops on the roof above you. It lasts for a few minutes and then stops. There are huge open culverts on the side of roads to take the water- or that’s what I assume.

Tricia informed me that the restaurant puts cream into the scrambled eggs- that’s why they taste funny and have an unusual texture.

when I get back to the hotel in the evening, the maid has turned down the bed, left a little reading light on and a chocolate on the pillow (a date stuffed with an almond and covered with chocolate). It is surprisingly tasty!
Yesterday, on the way back to the hotel, Ayo (our driver) explained that the sirens (more like buzzing beeps)  we heard didn’t mean there was a difficulty- the police use their sirens to get through traffic to go home, not to fulfill any policing


When I got back to the room this evening, the big floor lamp wouldn’t turn on and there wasn’t a bottle of water in the bathroom (to use for brushing teeth). I called and within 5 minutes got a return call telling me that both housekeeping and maintenance were on their way. They both came and remedied their respective situations for me within the next 5 minutes. Five minutes after that, I got a call to follow up and make sure that my needs had been met.  What incredible customer service!

An embarrassing admission: when I conduct train the trainer programs in the states, I always tell participants how important it is to use examples that are relevant to their training audiences. Until I came here to Nigeria, I didn’t realize how difficult it is to even discover what might or might not be relevant. I used a pizza example- and they don’t have pizza. I provided what is supposed to be a meaningful sentence in an activity: We go up north to see the autumn colors- and that had no resonance for them. Then today I had to explain what bingo was. Luckily, they knew what a merry go round was.

I’m rethinking some of my training content for Jordan, based on this experience. I can’t imagine that they are familiar with those references either.

However, I must tell you that there are Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants all over the place…

Speaking of food, I need to go and get some dinner.

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