In the atmosphere where I work -- that is, the administrative arm of a developing university in a developing country -- it's easy to get discouraged and dwell on the negative aspects of the job. You can see filthiness that corruption produces. You can see the walking evidence of a poorly educated population. You can see the hard-working citizens who sacrifice their comfort and well-being to make a difference in their country, gaining little in return.
Three steps forward, two steps back -- that's how things in Cambodia usually seem to go. So when something comes along that is so meaningful and positive and things are just clicking, you can't help but bask in the warm, fuzziness of it all.
This weekend the ALC hosted the International Leadership Skills Training Workshop. It was kind of exciting for me because it's the one project I've worked on here where I felt I had a strong impact on the outcome, from garnering interest through promotional brochures to making sure all the presenters were on the same page. That in itself gave me something to feel good about. Considering the immense amount of homesickness I've experienced lately and missing the autumn fun of Ohio, it's always nice to feel I came here for a reason. But it was the participants that provided the warm fuzzies of the weekend.
Did the workshop run perfectly? Absolutely not. I am a prime example of that. I should never be allowed to get up in front of a group of people to teach. I'm just no good at it. But the participants were so inspirational! Most of them were students, many of who work NGO jobs as well. There was a surgeon, a woman from UNICEF, students who worked with street kids and one who started his own church. All their stories were fascinating and doing what they do cannot be easy here.
We the presenters had various lectures planned out, from an overview of leadership, to the leader-follower relationship to the traits and behaviors of a leader, but the participants really got into the spirit of the workshop and talked about the things that were important to them and their roles as leaders. We talked about how leadership should be implemented to help develop Cambodia and during one session we got way off topic to discuss how to deal with stress in the workplace. It was cool, though, that they were willing to interrupt and make the time their own.
By the end of the workshop everyone was laughing and friendly and networking. It was so great! They even had a running joke going -- "It depends on the situation." They caught on quickly to the fact that leadership is not absolute. It's not black and white. You can be a leader one way in one instance and lead a different way in another instance. Whenever someone raised a question to the group, another participant would offer the answer with a smile, "It depends on the situation."
I wish I could go into more detail about how things went, but this whole month is a real blur. I can see myself planning another one of these workshops though. It's fun. I like planning things out and the reward you get after is great. (Ok, can you tell I'm half asleep and trying to wrap this up?)
Happy Halloweek everyone! Are you ready for winter? It's finally cooled down here to the point where I'm not drenched in sweat from walking down the street.