Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sorry for the wait...

In the words of the rapper Lil Wayne....Sorry for the wait!

We needed this in Dieseth a couple months ago, lol!
Its been a busy couple of days! Class has started off well, with a new professor, Seth Pollack. He is quite the character, but is very intellectually sound. He also loves music, which makes me even more fond of him and his pedagogy. This week we are dealing with Facilitation, and especially facilitation in a Development context. On Monday we dealt with power, and power dynamics in development. Through a series of activities that define power structures and what influenced social power dynamics, I was more confident in facilitating power dynamics. To illustrate this, take for example a a group of students doing a project. It is inevitable that one student will assume a leadership role and sometimes even dictate what is to happen. Taking this as a microcosm for organizational development, it is important to facilitate such processes, so that power is equally spread and outcomes are brought about from a group effort. I felt very empowered after the lesson, as I felt I learnt some useful skills that will allow me to be a good facilitator in any kind of situation. Being open-minded, respectful and trustworthy are some qualities a facilitator should posses, and through self reflection, I feel that these are some of my strengths on which I want to build on to be a successful facilitator in the future. After work, I went straight home...exhaustion had caught up with me. This class is almost like a day job...9am - 5pm! However, I enjoy it a lot, and feel that I am learning a lot. 

A band playing Pachelbel's canon in D at the Dupont Cirlce
 Metro station. Such as great way to end a busy day!
A couple month ago, when I went to Carleton College to visit a friend, Sonali, I met Amit who is from DC, and he invited me and my roommate, Oket, to a pick up game at Carleton. It was pretty fun, because I got to play against my soccer mentor, Renaud Hein, and Sonali even joined; It was fun! I got to talking to Amit after and he told me about some pick up games that happen in DC. So on Monday I went to The Sherwood Recreational Center and met Roy, who was Amit's former soccer coach. A lot of people had come, and it was great to see such a rich soccer tradition in this neighborhood. We played teams of 5 for 5 mins or 2 goals (on a rotation basis). I got in a pretty good work out that day as I was all over the place. Its been a while since I played the sport, and therefore was rusty, but I got back into it really fast. After that, I tried to navigate myself to the closest metro station (Union Station), and got a ride from one of my team members. His name was Aki, and as we got to talking, I introduced myself and told him my story of Namibia --> India --> Iowa, and he found that interesting. He then proceeded to tell me about himself and I found out he was from California and was just visiting his girlfriend for the summer in DC. However, he went to school at Oberlin College, and I asked him if he knew Jin Wong....and what do you know...he does!!! Jin was one of my housemates in the house I lived in on campus at the school I went to in India. We played soccer together and became close as a result. Like I said in an earlier post...the world is small! Trust me! :P

Indulging in some karaoke with the kids...oh yeah! 
On Tuesday, class was about FALSCH (Facilitating Adult Learning for Social CHange). It build off from Monday's lesson of power dynamics in the community. We learned various tools and techniques in order to facilitate activities in order for them to be productive and efficient. So an exercise my group did was in order to regulate power dynamics was to have two rounds of discussion with about 5 other class members. In the first round, we put out the following statement:" America has an positive influence on the rest of the world.". This statement could be interpreted in various ways, and so we let the discussion begin. Immediately there were some that put forth the pros and then some put down the cons. It was a heated debate between myself and 2 other participants, out of a group of 8 participants. We then stopped the discussion in order to start the second round. So for the second round, I passed out 5 cards to all the participants. We would repeat the same exercise but with a different statement:" Larger families are better than smaller families.". However, this time each card you had represented one sentence. So for every sentence you spoke, you gave up one card, and you cant talk if all your cards are up! This made people more aware of what they said and when they said it. With this facilitation method, the conversation incorporated the whole group, even the ones that hardly spoke. It was enlightening and effective. So this was an example of how enjoyable my day in class was!

A car Nick and I saw in Georgetown. People have class in
this place. I guess I'll be moving here soon.. #wishfulthinking
After class, I just hopped on the metro and went straight home. I was so exhausted from yesterday's soccer, and out of shape as well. UGH...oh well, I guess I'm going to have to do something about that from this weekend on! lol. When the bus dropped me off at the bus station, it started pour cats and dogs...actually more like horses and hippos, because I felt like I was going to swept away from the water running down the road as I had to cross it. I guess I know how Jonah felt now! I found shelter across the road at a sheltered bus stop and stood there for what felt like ages, waiting for the tornado-warming rain-shower to stop. I then see this guy run towards the shelter and decides to stop at it. My first instinct was to hand him my handkerchief in order to dry his hands and face because he was just drenched! I asked where he was coming from, and it seems that he lost his wallet, so he walked all the way from the Glenmont station to here. His house was just five mins away from the bus station, but a solid 30mins from the Glenmont station. I told him to chill and take a breather because the rain was just being rubbish and pouring as if we didn't have places to be at! oh well! We started chatting, and his name is Cal, and he is from Maryland. We shared similar passion such as music and love for computer science. I was pretty surprised with myself, as I spitting out all this fancy music and CS talk...I guess I did learn something in those classes after all! We might meet up before I leave and have a jam session with some of his friends sometime next week! I love these random connections I'm making. To use a term I just used, I'm increasing my social ability to network and make connections with people of various backgrounds and different areas. When I got home, I was so tired, but the kids were bouncing all over the place! I didn't know whether they had ants in their pants, or if they were just happy to see me. Either way, they managed to get me to do karaoke with them. Apparently cable comes with a karaoke channel nowadays..hheeeeyyy! Thats whats up aka no more singing in the shower!
Dinner by Chef Nick! When in DC, do like the DC peeps do :P

Today (Wednesday), I was still exhausted from last night, and therefore it was hard to concentrate in class. However, I still learned a great deal about approaches and principles of participatory development. Development is not only about building houses in poor countries, or about NGOs and such. It is about capacity building...creating a personal sense of potential with the community one is engaged with. Through development, we should aim to make people more away of ways that they can grow and sustain that growth and motivation. Some of the concepts we went over were quite interesting, but I wont go into that right now.  After class, we had a happy hour event at one of the bars on Connecticut Ave. near Dupont Cirlce, and it was nice to get to know more members of my group outside the academic setting. I don't necessarily hang out with them much just because I live far from downtown, and plus I'm not yet 21. It pretty much sucks not being 21 in this place, because that rules out a bunch of places one can go to and things one can do. However, I'm enjoying my time as much as I can. I left the event early in order to join Nick for a home cooked meal. I got to his place, and both his roommates where there. They are pretty cool guys, and we converse pretty easily, which is good! Nick lives in the same apartment our best friend, Kazi, lived in when he stayed in DC last fall semester. I came to visit Kazi in November last year, so the area/place was pretty familiar. After a fulfilling dinner, I started my pilgrimage home. I knocked off about 5 soduko puzzles on the way! While on the train, I got bored of doing the puzzles, and just chilaxed and people watched :P I looked out of the window and saw the moon in spectacular view. It was red-orange, and was really close to the earth, thus having a larger than life appearance. As I was admiring this view, an older lady came to sit next to me. I thought she was just sitting down due to a lack of seats, but she whispered to me:"It's been a while since I looked at that moon...makes me think of em good ol' days". My curiosity got the best of me, and I asked her what she meant. She went on to tell me of the first day she met her husband and how they were in a small town in rural alabama, and for their first date had ended it by star gazing. He promised her that as long as the moon keeps shining, he won't leave her, and sure enough he kept his promise. Unfortunately he passed away 2 years ago due to health issues. This story was not only touching, but demonstrated the old "real love"...its really made me think of what love is today, in this modern global society...I guess that's just some food for thought!

And on that note...keep well, and live in the present. 


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