Tip #431: Managed Chaos in Jordan

“All genius is a conquering of chaos and mystery.” Otto Weininger

Today, I need to finish the lesson plan for the third day of the Social Marketing training, meet with Fadi as my subject matter expert to design training on social media, meet with the two trainers who we scheduled to handle videotaping in separate rooms (when we knew we had 30 participants) so I can brief them on how I would like them to handle the feedback sessions after each participant in the room facilitates a 10 minute participatory learning activity of their own design, discuss whatever Kareem and Mona decide regarding staff training and any extension of my contract, review the participant binder that Lina puts together, remember to pull out the extra copies of the various role play games that participants are not supposed to have in their binders, meet with Cassie to be coached on how to complete the USAID Ecodit expense report- I think that’s the morning…

Regarding how chaotic the office is- it seems to be due in part to Mona, who is brilliant and creative, so she continually sees new possibilities- leaving the poor staff scrambling to keep up and adjust. She is apparently under great pressure from USAID for results within very tight and unreasonable timelines. The office just seems to be operating in a continual crisis mode. Of course, they have many projects going on at the same time, including a $1.5 million exhibit on water and energy that they are building for the local children’s museum (I just found out about this project at dinner tonight).

Cassie is leaving very early Friday morning (her flight is at 8:30 a.m. so she has to leave the hotel by 5:00 a.m.) Sometime this weekend (I guess that means either Friday or Saturday!) another Ecodit staffer will be coming to work on the children’s museum project because the architects are bringing prototypes of the exhibits and interactive games. This is Meredith, who is the very person who sent me a RFP for additional work with Ecodit. Cassie has given me instructions to plan a trip with Meredith while she’s here.

Speaking of traveling, Kareem came here from Lebanon, where he is the Chief of Party (Director) for Ecodit Lebanon. He looks like a Danish choirboy but clearly has a firm rein on the project and the staff when he is in Amman. He said that he used to make the 5 hour drive from Lebanon to Amman and that it was a very pleasant drive, with only 4 checkpoints- 1 as you leave Lebanon, 1 as you enter “no man’s land”, 1 as you leave no man’s land, and 1 as you enter Jordan.

However, because of the problems in Syria, he needs to fly (it is a 45 minute flight)- and the 4 daily flights are booked solid because other people no longer feel safe driving.

Cassie told me this evening that she was very surprised when she was in Beirut because it is very cosmopolitan and people speak French.

Oh, a funny thing- at least funny to me. I have been wrapping scarves around my neck so that it is covered, because I believed that Muslim women did not show their chest or neck. Then I was chatting with Maha K. and realized that her neckline was similar to mine. So I’m not going to worry about scarves any more. I’m terrible at draping them with any semblance of class.

But I’m not the only one who has difficulty with covering up. For the past few days, I’ve watched as Maha D’s headscarf slowly slid back from her forehead, showing her hairline in the front. She is continually adjusting the scarf. What a pain in the neck it must be! I haven’t spent any time with any of the other women who wear traditional headscarves, so I don’t know if she is typical or not.

May your learning be sweet.



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