Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Family Visits, Leadership Training and a Kiss on the Cheek (posted by Kie)

The Family Visits

On Saturday, Rolando, his nephew Rollie, and I went to visit the families of Sandra, Robinson, Nohemi, Elizabeth and Mariela in the Ollantaytambo area. It was interesting being able to see where the students live and also to converse with the students’ families. Some observations of the visits include: a) Many of them share one room for the whole family; b) they all have animals/pets including dogs, cats, bulls (Sandra’s father named one of his bulls “El Doctor” (The Doctor) and the other “El Inginiero” (The Engineer) which I found quite amusing), ducks, guinea pigs (there were 20-30 guinea pigs in some of the kitchens), hens and chickens; and c) most of the family members work in agriculture.

I also indulged in two lunches and a half (by accident). The mother of one of the students offered me a meat and potato skewer on the street when we were on our way to visit Elizabeth at the restaurant where she works and then when Rolando, Rollie and I dropped by the restaurant where Elizabeth works, she served us “pollo a la milaneza”(fried chicken patty on a bed of rice with some freshly sliced tomatoes). After eating pollo a la milaneza, we went to visit Mariela at her house (about a 15-minute combi ride outside of Ollantaytambo) and she served us with huge plates of trucha (trout), beets and potatoes with cheese. I was delighted to discover that Mariela (who studies gastronomy) cooked the meal for us and the trout was delicious, but it was a struggle to finish the second half of the plate (ie. the 4 potatoes) since only half an hour had passed since the first lunch. Mariela’s family was really welcoming and Rolando, Rollie and I enjoyed conversing with them. After our meal, Mariela gave us a tour of her house and her and her family gave thanks to Mosqoy and Mariela’s sponsors via video.

Teambuilding & Leadership

Sunday and Monday involved teambuilding sessions with the potential incoming students. At the beginning of Sunday’s session, I asked the students to give brief introductions of themselves and in their introductions to include which country they would most like to visit (I received a whole range of answers to this question including Italy, France, the U.S., Mexico and Canada). After the introductions we played “2 Truths and a Lie”, “Who am I?”, a game involving emotions of the face, and trivia. The aim of the ice breakers was to get the students to loosen up and work in teams. We also discussed the community event (a soccer and volleyball tournament) they are supposed to organize (to exercise event planning) and the Mosqoy 4 daytrip (a hike to Choquebamba). These teambuilding sessions are really important since the students will be relying a lot on each other when they move to Cuzco, away from their families, communities and small-town life.

On Monday night I rushed backed to Cuzco to hold a leadership session with the Mosqoy leaders, Rolando, Ebhert, Adrian and Elvira. The meeting started off with two short impromptu speeches per leader to practice public speaking, after which the leaders completed evaluations of each other and discussed why it is important to be able to speak publicly with confidence. The leaders expressed that being able to speak publicly with confidence is an important skill to have in order to be able to lead others, explain things clearly and inspire interest. Furthermore, as a project, I asked them to prepare a 5-minute speech on a topic of their choice. While the leaders are all naturally quite gifted public speakers, I think it will help them to receive constructive criticism on what they can improve because there is always something you can work on.

After the speeches, I asked the leaders to discuss a person that they admire for their leadership qualities. It turned out to be an interesting discussion as one of the leaders decided to choose ex-president Alan Garcia who not all of the leaders agreed is a good leader. At the same time, I think the leaders realized that those considered “leaders” are human too and therefore not necessarily perfect. The leaders also discussed and debated the phrasing of the question they had to answer since I had asked “Who do you admire for their leadership qualities?”, not “Who do you think is a good leader?” (ie. a leader does not have to be a president, religious figure or someone famous). Rolando ended up choosing to talk about Gregorio, the president of the Amaru weaving community, because he is very welcoming, a good speaker and always tries to look out for others.

After this discussion, we moved onto brainstorming and writing down good leadership qualities on a poster. I thought that this would take 15 minutes at most but the leaders were quite careful about choosing what to write down and almost every point was discussed for at least two-three minutes before the leaders decided whether or not to write it down.

Lastly, I got the leaders to discuss their best and worst leadership qualities which led to a discussion about the group in general and the dynamics within the group. Not everything voiced was positive but I think that conflicts can be a good thing because it forces people to challenge one another and work through their problems. If people within a team are too similar, it might make for an easy work environment but I don’t think that the members of the group would learn much. Conflict often incites compelling discussion. As long as all of the members of the team are willing to try to work through them and respect each other, I think that having different personalities and opinions within a team can be a good thing.

The leadership session on Monday night ended up taking 3 hours, but I think it was a very fruitful discussion and I hope that the leaders got something out of it!

Idiom of the week that Sandra’s father taught me: “Tiene que ser como una mosca” (You have to be [fast] like a fly)

Cultural Realization of the week: I think I have finally got used to the Latin American custom of getting kissed on the cheek when greeting someone.

Signing out,

At Sandra's house

Three Mosqoy 4 girls

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