7-28 PHAST part 6: The Importance of a Co-Facilitator

I just feel the need to say again that my co-facilitator for the workshops is amazing. I found him on a fluke.

Pierre-Joseph in action

My Peace Corps assigned counterpart doesn’t follow through on anything and doesn’t show up to commitments, so I’d given up on using him. I thought I’d use the individuals on the Aid Post Committee, figuring they were community members in good standing with some sort of connection to my work. The first place I did a workshop was my own village, which meant my papa was my co-facilitator. I spent five evenings working with him to teach him the workshop and the goals. We set a date for the workshop, it was going to be the following Thursday. I went to Vila over the weekend (bad choice, too little time for the expense level.) He decided to go to Vila on the ship to watch football (soccer). He decided not to take the first ship back to the island.

My workshop is scheduled for Thursday remember. I called him Monday and he didn’t pick up. He called me late on Tuesday and told me he was still in Vila. On Wednesday, I was going to go talk to the chief and cancel the workshop. I was not going to do it by myself and I was not willing to set that precedent. Pierre-Joseph caught me on my way and he was carrying the notebook I’d written the Bislama cheat sheet in. Last time I saw that notebook, it was in my papa’s house. Pierre-Joseph said he’d take over. We spent all afternoon and evening going over the workshop for the next day.

We ran it the next day and it went fine. From there, due to further flakiness by other people and his continued hard work, I decided that my best possible course forward was to use him for all the workshops.

Last week, he ran a workshop by himself. I’d gone to Vila for a meeting and he took the initiative to do the first day of the workshop on his own. This is huge. People here don’t volunteer for leadership roles, they are more just shoved into them. Not showing up to something is not a big deal and standing up in front of a crowd is putting yourself above your neighbors. He told me the workshop went great and we ran the next part of it together. I think this is the kind of capacity building I am here to do. He may not ever need to run a PHAST workshop again, but he has learned more about public speaking and how to present to a group than I could have hoped for.

For me, this has been a learning experience in a lot of ways. I have had to learn how to run this workshop with no formal training, I’ve learned more about facilitation than I thought possible and I’m learning to let go of the results of my work. It will be interesting and I hope exciting to see where these projects go.

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