We Can Work It Out

Monday night, past 9 PM, at the Wisma PGI in Jakarta
Just try to have a conversation with the hotel staff who don’t understand English and tell them that a beer I bought last night has disappeared from the fridge. Well the conversation didn’t go where I wanted it to, so I’m sipping my chocolate milk now.
We’ve now ended the second day of our HRE curriculum design workshop with participants and facilitators from the AHRTP, Indonesia’s version of the IHRTP. Today we started off by splitting into three groups and each group was to take 7 minutes to develop an energizer. They had to choose from any of the following categories: introductions, energizers, group dynamics, learning/analysis, listening, and evaluation. After 7 minutes, the first group volunteered and tried their exercise on us. We had to stand in a circle, arms entwined, then sit down together, extend our legs, then try to bring our legs back and push ourselves up all at the same time. I’m told it was possible, but not for us, not today.
The rest of the day’s agenda was something like this: reviewing the characteristics of the participants, where we had a long discussion on access to the program for people who are differently abled (“difabled” as they are referred to here) or have other special needs such as caregiving. We agreed to address that in more detail tonight when we looked at the application form. Then it was a review of the evaluation results from participants and facilitators attending the 2009 AHRTP, followed by their recommendations. Then moving on to a self-assessment questionnaire for human rights educators, followed by how we teach/educate and how we learn, add to that a discussion on Paulo’s Freire’s thinking, and finally back to the application form, where plenty of decisions were made, including the one to get rid of “Male / Female” in the sex question (I think they call it gender, not sex) and to leave it open for participants to answer who they like (for example, if they are transgendered). But the application form, which stands at about 11 pages, could probably be slimmed down even further. Do we really need to ask so much information in order to select the participants? A bloody passport application form in Canada stands at 2 pages.
The day was packed, as was yesterday, when we performed an environmental scan and learner profile as part of a needs assessment. The group is dedicated, I’ll give them that much. I told them yesterday to finish at 5:15 and they continued until 6. Our usual starting time is 9 AM, and tomorrow they want to start at 8. It’s a commitment I rarely see elsewhere, and it’s a great sign that the alumni of Equitas programs and the AHRTP here in Indonesia are ready to take over this program and make sure it continues to be a success.
At the same time, the workshop seems to be stuck in third gear, and obviously a lot of that depends on me. The language of instruction was indicated from the very beginning to be English, but it proved better for several participants to listen to the bahasa Indonesia translation, so the extra time to translate (concurrent translation, not simultaneous) saps the energy from the pace of the workshop. But to our translator’s credit, he consistently translates what we say with great alacrity, no complaints, and even mimics the tone and emotions of the person speaking. Add to that the timely distribution of Canadian chocolates from my colleague, which was well received by all.
We’re conducting this workshop to prepare the content for the 2010 AHRTP coming this February. The problem with that is we’ve already done two AHRTPs and it’s not so much a curriculum design as it is a revision of an existing curriculum. So we don’t need to create a learner profile, it’s already been done. Same goes for the content – we’re essentially fine-tuning it, and we’ll get to that tomorrow. But having experienced two AHRTPs, we can ask ourselves (as they did today) whether or not there is a better way to prepare resource persons who attend the training. This brought forward a discussion on the amount of resources persons for the whole 2-week training, which was (if I remember well) 17 this past year. That number seemed a bit high for me, and I pointed out that the more time the facilitators give to resource persons, the less time they (the facilitators) have to work with the participants. What kind of content can the facilitators tackle themselves next time? And in the long term? Granted, having resource persons is a must, but there comes a point when a facilitator can take care of the content herself or himself.
Ah, one last point to mention. In their recommendations for next year’s AHRTP, everyone mentioned the need to bridge the theory behind human rights with the practical reality of the participants, and for many this means life in rural areas. It’s a recurring issue I’ve heard many times before, and I’m never quite satisfied with the answer I give. We’ll see what we come up with tomorrow; I’m sure we can work it out. Just have to be a bit more upbeat on my part…and I’ll keep a closer eye on my beer in the fridge.
good night, paul

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