Reflections on life and learning in Nepal.

Today I want to talk about Nepal. I want to talk about that breathtaking and fabulous country that taught me so much. And about the fear and worry that hits you when you realise your friends were right there, in the midst of a massive earthquake.

I lived in Nepal for 4 years, 1999-2004. I went out there initially as a VSO volunteer training special needs teachers, parents and community based rehabilitation workers in Speech and Language Therapy (and a million and one other related things). I somehow went from being someone with a solid accademic knowledge but limited experience (having only graduated two years before) to being an absolute expert almost overnight. I was called upon as the person who seemed to know best about anything from complex disabilities and disorders to child development, psychology, fundraising and proposal writing, training and facilitation as well as becoming the resident English scholar. That’s pretty big when you’re only 23.

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What should you do with the ambitious seedlings of ideas?

Are you one of those people who has a head constantly swimming with ideas? Or maybe someone that gets amazing flashes of inspiration from time to time. It feels like the time of year for ideas. If there is such a thing. The time of year when everything is warming up and coming out. There’s that feeling of newness. The feeling of promise. It’s when people start moving along from being wrapped up into slowly exposing their toes and shoulders to the world again.

Of course ideas aren’t seasonal. They don’t come out with the sun, although there is something to be said for that warm relaxed mood that perhaps leads to inner reflection. Ideas are just as likely to come out when you are swimming, or running or cleaning your teeth. The generation of ideas is very personal and everyone is inspired by different things.

The seeds on my windowsill do kind of remind me of ideas. At the moment they are small promising shoots of something as yet undefinable. If I treat them well, they will actually be peppers (I think!). They are little gems, poking their way out into the world, hoping to get what they need to become something big and beautiful. If given the right environment, if nurtured in the right way, your ideas, just like my seedlings will grow and grow into something amazing.

Ideas

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Training Facilitation and Facilitating the Trainers

Most of my workshops are generally with people who are not used to doing lots of participatory group work, and don’t spend their entire day thinking mostly about the best way to engage and motivate each other.  That is in part why I’m there in the first place, to help them work better together! So there’s always that slight fear when you are facilitating or training a group of people who do spend their days thinking about it. The other people that do what I do. Or at the very least something similar.

There is that fear that you will say something wrong when you are standing up in front of those “in the know” and there’s that feeling that they may be internally rolling their eyes in horror in some way. What if I talk about my experience of using a certain tool and find out that they wrote the book about it? What if I do something that I consider quite innovative and they’ve seen it all before?

Actually, to be fair my biggest fear by far was boring them all.

I had no idea who knew what when I designed and delivered my chosen topic “Harnessing the Power of the Group” a few weeks ago. I did this at the Saltbox Trainers Exchange which despite not really knowing who was going to be in the audience, turned out to be a most fun filled Friday indeed.

I was up first which meant I could relax and enjoy the other training sessions later in the day. Apart from introductions at the start I had no real clue who any of the participants were and was faced with the potential of hundreds of years of collective training and facilitation experience right there in front of me. Minor exaggerations aside there were indeed some very experienced people in the room. But there were also some quite new to their roles. And some who knew lots about training, but less about facilitation. So  I needn’t have worried.

My session seemed to get everyone asking questions and generally talking about various experiences of facilitation. And everyone shared what they thought facilitation meant to them:

Facilitation

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So why is communication so important anyway?

We sort of take it for granted that communicating well is something good and we intrinsically know that we need to communicate to the best of our abilities. Extraordinary communication skills are a spectacularly brilliant thing to have and there’s often that part of the job advert that asks for “good communication skills”. But why is it so important? After all, surely if you an ideas person, a thinker, a self starter who just gets on with things, a doer and not a talker you don’t want to be made to discuss things all the time you just want to be left alone to get on with it.

Well on the one hand yes, and of course no one wants to be talking about things so much that there is no action. But the truth is that no one lives in a vacuum and on some level we all need to communicate. It’s true. Whether we like it or not and whatever form it takes, we need to do it.

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And here are some reasons why everyone keeps going on about it. Good communication means:Continue reading