Tip #446: The Saga of the First Day of Training in Amman, Jordan

“Expect the best, plan for the worst, and prepare to be surprised.”  Denis Waitley

This was my first day of the first 5-day Train the Trainer: Designing and Delivering Dynamic Learning. Most if not all of the participants represent organizations, associations or US AID projects focused on water and energy conservation, women’s issues, children’s issues, and green building.

The group was very warm and welcoming and sincerely interested. They enjoyed the candy and kites, took photos of the agenda map, and even made things with the pipe cleaners. They got and laughed at most of my cartoons. Getting them to turn off their phones and not keep checking text messages was a small problem.

This was also probably the 3rd time in 30 years of training that I did not complete the entire day’s scheduled content.

You may ask why and I will certainly tell you. Despite the fact that the training was publicized as being in English and despite the fact that the confirmation letter reaffirmed that the training would be in English- yes, you guessed it, there were at least 6 people who did not speak or understand English.

That meant that M- D and M- K were conscripted into translating all day, which was incredibly unfair to both of them. They had come as participants and were not able to participate. Other participants served as translators for people sitting next to them, so there was almost a continual buzz.

I had to speak very slowly and leave cartoons up for a while so they could read them and take a moment to understand them. With this and with the need for translation, the time for activities was doubled and often tripled.  Simply having 30 people take a minute or so to introduce themselves ate up an hour alone. I can safely say that we are almost a half-day behind. I have to figure out how I’m going to handle it tomorrow so that we can catch up.

I didn’t feel that I could ask them to complete an evaluation form for today, since so much of the content is yet to be covered. They’ll just have to complete the evaluation forms for Day 1 and Day 2 tomorrow. However, I did have people vote with the fingers of one hand (5 fingers means everything is great, down to 1 finger (being careful what finger that is) and the response was very positive. In fact, one woman has already invited me to do something as yet unspecified tomorrow night. Isn’t that nice?

My day had started rather stressfully. L- had said that she would pick me up at 7:45 a.m.. When she wasn’t there at 8, I asked one of the men outside who worked for the hotel to call her (I at least had her number). I was planning to take a taxi and then realized that I didn’t remember the name of the training hotel (Quality Suites), which would have made that option somewhat problematic.

Luckily, L- arrived about 8:10- and the training was supposed to begin at 8:30…She told me that she had left her home at 7:15 but the traffic was terrible- and she expected that others would be late. Yes, they were, so we had to start late.

When we finally got to the training hotel, there were two participants already there who immediately volunteered to help with last minute preparations (such as putting out the candy). I noticed that three Koosh and a glitter wand I had left on my table were gone, as were three other Koosh from the tables. I was not happy about that, since they had assured us that the room would be locked and no one would be entering it for any reason.

M- D. got the hotel management involved and, at the end of the day, they told us that they had a video of the exit to the room and knew who had taken the items. They promised they would be returned tomorrow.

I began the training day by saying “hello” and “welcome” in Arabic. They appreciated that- and then I immediately explained that was the extent of my Arabic and they laughed. That’s not exactly true. Thanks to Mohammad the driver, I know how to say important things (if I look at my crib sheet). These include- “no problem,” “I am hungry,” “hello (which is different for a man and for a woman),” and “goodbye.”  I probably should learn how to say “I’m lost and need to get back to the Intercontinental Hotel.”

The saga continues next week…

May your learning be sweet.


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