The BIG thing I love about my role is the opportunity to keep on learning!
I’ve been a facilitator for 18 years or so and there’s still new things to explore. Recently I’ve been involved in a program assisting farmers across Western Australia to develop strategic plans for their business. Plenty to learn in that alone – working in eight locations spread over 1600km from Carnarvon through to Esperance!
Now I’m part of a team working with a group of Vietnamese horticulturalists – helping them to plan for the future of their businesses. It’s challenging and different – here are some of the reasons why:
- We’re using an interpreter
- We don’t know a lot about the people here
- We’re trying to understand each others cultural norms (and no-no’s)
- It’s harder to understand what’s going on between particpants when we don’t understand their language (a great lesson!)
So what have we learnt? Well we’re two modules in to a six module program. So far there’s been lots of learning and lots of laughs. What’s helping us is:
- Having local people ‘on the ground’ to help us get a better understanding of the issues – before the program starts!
- Using an interpreter to ensure shared understanding of the issues covered and two-way discussion (as facilitation should be!)
- Having the workshop materials translated to Vietnamese & using lots of pictures
- Setting decent break times – allowing facilitator team to build better relationships with participants
- Having local people involved as facilitators – helping to build trust
- Sharing a meal – always a good way to further build the relationship
- Maintaining a steady rate, rather than flying along – which can be energising – but in this case would have led to mass confusion!
There’s still a long way to go and we’re making good progress. I’ll keep you updated with further insights from the next few workshops.
PS – of course I’d love to hear about your own experiences with cross-cultural facilitation & any tips you can provide