Yesterday afternoon we had a plenary where each of the panels presented their ideas, i.e. scenarios for the futures of higher education in Romania. When I saw the first slide from my panel members, I was stunned. The transformation over lunch was incredible. After the session, as I walked in, the panel members cheered. A few came over and offered their hand. "We have voted you best facilitator", they said. "Thank you, thank you, but you guys were incredible. You must have been using three quarters of your right brains". Yes, it ended well. And after that, they were all pumped up. The group dynamics suddenly shifted. They were now one big team, instead of three separate smaller groups. I think they have also inspired the other groups in many ways, especially in making impact from the presentations.
But it was not all smooth sailing. You will find, quite often, some one, or a few, participants who are vocal, opinionated, loud and don't agree to how things are moving, or what is said, or how it is said. I once attended a two week training course on teaching approaches and I was a constant pain in the a@se. So I understand disruptive behavior. I told my local counterpart that for a constructivist workshop, chaos is necessary. Out the confusion comes a tremendous amount of energy to work. The key is to stay cool. Negotiation is all part of the deal. You can still assert authority without telling people what to do. Very often, vocal opposition comes from individuals who have a long connection with the issues raised. The other key is not to get all stressed out. Apparently one other panel was even more "terror" - the facilitator fainted during the session - from a combination of stress and no sleep (absolutely no sleep the previous night).
This morning they will make the final presentations. Many of them have been working long hours to put up a good show - most of them are the young ones who want to make long lasting impressions for their futures. Then my job will be done. In fact, my job for this session is already done. But this is not the end. The project still has many rounds to go. Will I be back? Well, it's in my contract to come back in January 2010. But it will depend on whether I can work around the teaching and other duties once the semester starts again after Christmas.
Fireworks to mark the start of the Christmas celebration yesterday evening, just outside my window. There was a "turning on the Christmas lights ceremony" and the whole town showed up. The streets were packed with people.
The sun came out at mid-day. On the left at the end of the street is a lovely park.
A creative work from Irina.
My ladies, after the triumphant presentation at the plenary.
All pumped up and ready to steal the show at the final presentation today (pics below)