Out of the comfort zone

Just like yesterday day we continued to spend more time today than budgeted for each and every session. Yet no one but me seems to care, at least not now. However, I know that at the end when filling in their evaluation people will say (a) we needed more time (true, we always do) and (b) the facilitators didn’t stick to the agenda.

In small groups the participants simulated sessions they are to conduct in the future with the authorities in the provinces and those who have to oversee the technical quality and serve as coaches – a new concept. I circulate muttering to myself ‘trust fall, trust fall,’ and summonned my Afghan co-facilitators to pay attention to the conversations in the small groups to make sure people are learning the right things from their practice. But my co-facilitators are a little like mercury, rolling off in this and that direction to attend to various other things that come up – some urgencies that popped up without warning as well as those that were not urgent months ago when we discussed the program by email.

I introduced the concept of getting out of one’s comfort zone and today they did. There was great unease about having to discover things for themselves rather than have everything spoonfed via powerpoint presentations. I told them we do that with babies but they are not babies – a metaphor some understood and liked (they grinned and nodded their heads – these are the people I have worked with for years); others may have been insulted by this simile but I will never know.

There is a degree of learned helplessness that we, the providers of technical assistance, have created ourselves. If you are told often enough that you don’t know things then, surprise, you don’t think you know things and need to be fed with a spoon.

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