This year my birthday (Jan. 11) was very special indeed and not only because the date had all ones: 1-11-11. But, I’ll get to birthday fun in a minute.
I spent my part of my birthday giving a presentation at the Packard Foundation Program Forum on translating the Networked Nonprofit into the Networked NGO. The presentation was an opportunity to share some insights about working internationally and from sharing the ideas from the book from trip to Kenya/UK last November. Did they translate or were they lost in translation? It also gave me an opportunity to share some stories about my experience as Visiting Scholar over the past 6 months coaching grantees in becoming Networked Nonprofits.
I’m keen to learn and improve my practice about training and developing curriculum for NGOs in different parts of the world. I’ve had the opportunity to work in Canada, Australia, Cambodia, Romania, India, UK, and Africa and enjoy the extra dimension of understanding different cultures as part of the instructional and learning process.
One thing I learned is that is okay to do “real-time translation,” and to be transparent about. It takes a different mindset – not one of “here the knowledge I’m going to fill you with.” Instead, you have to listen, learn, and adapt your content and co-create a new understanding together. It is also important to a mixed delivery and adhere to simplicity.
I got a chance to meet Stephanie Lai, who works at the Packard Foundation and is a member of the YouTube Symphony. A cellist! In the video above, she talks about her love of music and philanthropy. Her introduction was filmed in the courtyard of the foundation. (My Australia friends should definitely watch the whole video, as the orchestra will perform in Sydney and Stephanie as a particular affection for wombats.)
It was a fun way to spend part of my birthday!
Reflection on your past practice is a great way to start a new project that builds on the same skills and ideas. Rather than go into cut and paste mode, it is an opportunity to create something new or scale. I’m now interested in the question of how your scale a networked capacity building approach around social media.
In 2011, I’ll be the lead for Zoetica on a NGO/social media train the trainers project in the Middle East, sponsored by the State Department and others and has multiple partners. IIE is managing the project. We’re at the very beginning of the developing the curriculum and I’ll be sharing my learning and more details as they unfold. Transparency is one of the ideas and, of course, we’ll be modeling this.
As you can see, my birthday didn’t go unnoticed (perhaps it was over 300 birthday wishes I got on my Facebook Wall), but my new friends sang Happy Birthday to me in Arabic and taught me how to say Thank You. I’d like to say Shokran to everyone who made my special day wonderful.
A few other things I learned during our first planning meeting. That there is an Arabic translation of the phrase “throwing pasta at the wall.” Which means you are experimenting or brainstorming and you don’t know if these ideas will stick. No, it isn’t “throwing humus at the wall,” – it translates literally to throwing flour at the wall.
Also, there is no direct translation of the word “nerd” in Arabic, but the term is understood by people there to mean “someone who is really smart.”
So, stay tuned as I explore internationally training models and networked approaches to capacity building.