Hotel lobby, September 26, almost midnight
I’ve been in Beirut about a day and a half now, the participants’ energy for this workshop driving my jetlag away. Most of us are in the lobby now, either drinking coffee, smoking, or working on laptops. The participants, from across the Middle East and North Africa, are here for the third and final Training of Trainers workshop in the MENA program. I have worked with these human rights educators over the last two and a half years, and we culminate the series of TOTs with a workshop designed by the participants themselves. Preparations for this workshop began back in March of this year, where we met here in Beirut and split into four teams: Educational approaches, Gender, Conflict, and the relationship between CSOs and States (and citizenship). By the end of our meeting in March, the four teams had begun to prepare content which they would share with their colleagues during this TOT. In other words, everyone’s a facilitator this time.
As far as changes go, it is significant. The program has evolved from the first TOT based on a manual developed in Montreal by Equitas to a rich, dynamic, participant-driven training where everyone has an opportunity to share their expertise with their peers.
The road bringing us to this point has not been easy. After the first two TOTs, participants interested in applying for small funds to help them undertake HRE activities enabled many of them to practice their skills as human rights educators. There have also been a few participants who are not part of this TOT 3, even though they were participants in the first two workshops. And then there was the process for this TOT, whereby each of the four groups mentioned earlier had to coordinate with each other by email of Skype to discuss the content and process of their part of the workshop (the workshop lasts 7 days, so each group has about 1 ½ days to facilitate). Having been part of the Educational approaches team, I can say that the online discussions were sometimes difficult (if you’ve ever tried group work via email, you know what I mean).
At any rate, here we are and we’ve spent the day in our respective teams preparing. For me, I think this will be one of the workshops where I will have the least involvement. The more I think of it, the more I seem to be working my way out of a job. If you’re working in human rights, that’s a good thing, isn’t it?
Having said that, some participants took a taxi ride earlier this evening and the driver got into a heated discussion with another driver, stopped the taxi, opened the glove compartment that had a gun in it, and walked out to talk to the other driver (thankfully, he left his gun in the car and their dispute was resolved – nonviolently).
More later, paul