Thursday, June 25, 2009

Leadership Training 2009

This month GL program coordinators and support people (assistant coordinators) are gathering in Liberia, Costa Rica for Global Learning’s sixth annual leadership training. The leaders present are preparing to guide the 2009 School Enrichment Programs in Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Honduras. Over the course of several weeks new and experienced coordinators and support people are focusing on topics ranging from GL’s pedagogy to accounting systems to conflict resolution techniques.

What follows is a first hand account about how the training is going from ­Ashley Engel, a new GL Support Person who will work in Nicaragua this year.

We´re here! I have been in San Roque, Costa Rica (near Liberia) for a week and a half. As soon as I arrived, I have felt so welcomed by everyone. I live with nine other people in a house that a GL supporter is allowing us to use. We have volunteers from diverse parts of the United States, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. Working with such a diverse group is a wonderful experience. Because we differ in nationality, socioeconomic status, personality, religion, ethnicity, cultures, and gender, we all contribute to the group in different ways. Although we are such a diverse team, we all work well with one another as we work to achieve the goals of GL. I love learning about different cultures and experiencing new things while I am in San Roque. I feel as though I am a part of something bigger while working for Global Learning. I am spending my time doing something worthwhile and meaningful and am getting really excited to work in the schools.

A typical training day runs from about 8am to 9:30pm. Our team starts each day eating breakfast together. After cleaning up, we have a training session that lasts about two and a half hours in the morning. Then, we have lunch and enjoy some free time. In the afternoon, we have another training meeting for a few hours, and afterwards, members cook dinner. We have personal time to rejuvenate after dinner and then have another meeting at night.

In the bilingual training sessions and meetings, we are always learning. We have been studying the pedagogies of GL through numerous activities. The coordinators are instructing us on GL´s teaching tools to effectively teach in classrooms. In small groups, we practice these techniques in Spanish to prepare. In addition, we create visuals for the leaders and also other visuals to prepare for the arrival of the volunteers. As a support person, I am able to see the inner workings of the organization. The meetings are full of group activities where we learn about each other, ourselves, teaching, and the organization. The activities are about team­building, collaboration, and forming relationships between the leaders. Although training is about learning and working, the house is always full of laughter, and we are always having fun even through work.

In the house, I feel comfortable around everyone and am constantly laughing. I love learning cooking techniques, feeling like a part of a community, being a support person in an international organization, and learning teaching strategies. I really feel connected to each member on the team. In our free time, we can go to the internet café, which is only two blocks from the house, play cards, go to the town center, and even play soccer in the street. We also go on field trips to bond and to take a break from working to feel rejuvenated. As a group, we already went to the beach. We will be going to a waterfall soon. I feel so lucky to be here and am so excited for the program. I cannot wait for the new volunteers to arrive! See you soon in Nicaragua!
­Ashley Engel
GL volunteer, Nicaragua Support Person 2009