We completed the section of the workshop focused on getting people familiar with the content of the new and improved leadership development program. It was a hard nut to crack, to cover 491 pages in 3 days. The best I could do was to reduce the sense of intimidation people may have felt when they were given a bound copy of the thick facilitator guide. I wanted them to make friends with the hefty tome. Some got too intimate and the poorly bound document fell apart – a sign of things to come?

All of today consisted of practica – twelve pairs of accomplished or would-be facilitators selected a 45 session each and then, in three simultaneous sessions going on in three different parts of the conference floor, facilitated their peers. The last 15 minutes were spent on feedback.

Again, much was done in Pashto and Dari but I got the general gist of the feedback and it was good. One set of session instructions (on priority setting) suggested to ask the women in the group to list the desirable qualities of a husband. The teaching notes says “ask the men to sit on the side and observe.” The two rookie facilitators were puzzled about this exercise (the lone woman left after lunch) and it took a bit of back and forth to change the exercise and ask the men what qualities make for a good wife. The group brainstormed the qualities and I was pleasantly surprised that education came first, then religion, then beauty and lastly wealth.

My Afghan colleagues pretty much run the show now, with the most senior (and my former direct report) taking the lead. I want the team to be able to run this workshop again (and they can) at a later time as repeats are needed: someone’s cousin died and he dropped out; another was sent to Iran on a moment’s notice and left after day 1; another had to wait three days for a plane to take off from Herat because of heavy snow fall (it was exactly 9 years ago that three of my young colleagues perished as the plane they travelled in from Herat to Kabul should have stayed on the ground).

These dropouts (and some drop in again) challenge our certificate rules. Our facilitation team agreed yesterday that the cutoff line to receive a certificate of attendance would be a minimum of 3 days of attendance; a very senior doctor is pleading with each of the facilitators to make an exception for him as he missed the first three days through no fault of his own. But we simply cannot grant a certificate of attendance when there was no attendance. Our compromise is to create a special certificate for him that indicates attendance at the two days that he will have been with us. We will sign it ourselves since it’s too late to go through the government circuit of signatures of a higher order. I am not sure whether this will be acceptable to him but it will have to do.

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February 2014
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