Clay visions

On Wednesday we started the final of our three events here, the one I am leading. Some 35 representatives from various organizations involved (or to be involved) in wheelchair services had been invited. About 25 or so showed up.

We have a few Americans in the room and so translation remains a challenge because we have to translate both ways and not just for the facilitator. One of our translators volunteered to come simply because she was curious about the unusual methodology – we ended up using her quite a bit and hopefully we can pay her.

The highlight of the day was the creation of a shared vision. Getting people to visualize a desired future was a challenge with reluctance to close eyes, many people not returning after lunch and constant cellphone interruptions which, though silent were still interruptions. People cannot seem to turn cellphones off or ignore calls.

But once the visualization was done and participants were urged to use all materials in the room (this included modeling clay), everyone started playing, with an abandon I haven’t seen before. Faces lit up and the usually serious and unsmiling faces relaxed. We stood around each table as they pointed out their dreams for wheelchair access in Mongolia.

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After the break we started to tease out the common elements and it was as if I had put people back in their traditional school benches. The energy dipped, the energy slipped and at 4 PM, one hour ahead of time, I called it a day as there seem to be no point in continuing with the small group. I felt as I was wading through molasses. When I announced the end of the day people started smiling again and energy returned – energy applied to packing up.

It was our last evening with our Filipino friend and master trainer and we had her select the restaurant for our farewell supper. We went to a Mongolian hot pot place and ordered spicy hot pots, dumplings, thin mutton slices and a basket full of vegetables, accompanied by a large Ghenggis beer and then we parted. We are now in the phase were everyday someone is leaving. Me tomorrow for my trip to Kinshasa and Maggie will close the ranks on Friday night, returning to DC.

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