Monday, June 20, 2005

The week so far... part 1

Monday: our week with the staff begins – classes all day for the trainers and frantic network/system work for the other guys.

We planned a beginning Excel class for 8 a.m. to noon, and an intermediate class for 2 to 4 p.m. The beginning class went fairly well. I had expected a different concept of time, but really had trouble adjusting it to with so much ground to cover in training. The classroom wasn't completely set up, so we got started around 9:00. We had a pretty full class (13), and they all had set aside that time for training, so they were focused. Our approach was to team-teach, each of us taking turns at the front while the other two circulated and offered individual help.

We had a translator, Raphael, who knows some Excel and whose English is very good. He translated our instructions into French (with some Kinyarwanda thrown in), and also circulated to help out, which was really great. We wrapped up at noon, but nearly all the class wanted to stay and work – so we hung around until 1:00 answering questions. Their work ethic is amazing.

The afternoon's intermediate class wasn't so smooth. Again, we ran into the time issue. The staff takes lunch from 1:00 to 2:00, and the class was scheduled for 2:00 to 4:00. Our 2-hour lesson plan was quite full, with specific topics requested by the IT director. The students showed up around 2:30 (we found out that many had attended a funeral over the lunch hour). The afternoon's class had no translator, so communication was a challenge. And each of the three trainers has our own agenda and training method, which really diverged when we got to the intermediate level. Of the 6 people who showed up, three left before 4 p.m. It just felt really disorganized and difficult. My head was pounding by the end, and I was feeling extremely frustrated and ineffective. It was a hard way to end the first day's training.

We ended the day by going out to dinner for our group's last meal all together, before Mark and Bill took off for home. We went to the New Cactus Café, a pizza restaurant whose menu is written in French. Yep, you read that right – in the middle of Africa, we ate at a southwest-themed pizza restaurant and ordered in French! (I had my pizze with chevre, poulet, champignons, et basilic. It was magnifique!) The time was relaxing, and helped me finish the day in better spirits.

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