Polish and loose ends

Everyone cheered for our re-elected president here. During a SWOT analysis the American elections were placed below the heading of Threats (the threat was Mitt – especially to family planning programs) but just at that moment, one of our colleagues who was monitoring the Huffington Post website yelled out ‘he won’ and we knew exactly what she meant. The Bangladeshis moved the entry to another board that was labeled ‘Opportunities.’

We all exhaled deeply – it had been nerve wrecking, this not knowing. I watched as the world commented on the outcome of the elections – most were positive except Indian business leaders who kept harping on the economy. A new mother of twins in Kenya called her babies Barack and Mitt. They are joining the much older Kennedys and Reagans in Kenya.

Wednesday was tense and intense – with always the question whether we would be able to pull it off, these two days squeezed into one without rushing and thus compromising the quality of the interactions and deliberations. Maybe there was some quality loss but we managed to maintain high energy as people began to work as a network rather than a bunch of competing organizations.

Today we had to wait outside the conference center gates for the Prime Minister to leave the formal opening of the Exhibition on farm animals, fish and pets.

She left exactly on time and we streamed in to have our lunch and wrap up the conference. There was stuff to be prepared, presenters to coach and evaluations to be completed. Everything fell into place except the tea which came too late. Those who hung around got to have three cups of tea instead of one.

In the evening we had a celebratory dinner, hosted by the founder of a local health communication organization. We sample fine Bangla cuisine in the company of the organization’s staff and my local counterparts.

One of the drivers who has just started his bakery classes took me back to the hotel. He is a Christian from the north, educated by Scottish missionaries. he looks like he is from Tibet or Sikkim, which is actually not all that far from Northern Bangladesh. He promised to bring me some samples of his baking whenever I come back. He should surely have graduated by then.

Back at the hotel I completed typing up the evaluation responses (65% return rate, not bad) and assemble the documents to use for the challenge of tomorrow: assembling the framework that this workshop would construct – the participants produced the raw pieces – tomorrow is polishing time with a little interruption in the afternoon for a massage at the whopping high rate of 8 dollars an hour.

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November 2012
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