When President Obama took office, he asked Americans to take it on themselves to show their service to their country by volunteering – through their time and their talent. I continue to be extremely moved by the sense of conviction that he shows and his dedication to making our country (and the world) a better place, so I decided I would take up his challenge.
I am a professional facilitator and my particular talent is team building, so the service I have been giving has been through my facilitation. Last month I got a call from a US State Department sponsored foundation called the Meridian International Center, that was bringing 13 NGO representatives from the Middle East and North African Region for a meeting and training in a variety of specialties. The group was in need of an activity that would quickly get them working together and my team building program seemed like a good fit.
When I arrived and met the group, I quickly realized that providing a team building program through the use of interpreters would be a unique learning experience for me. As I began leading the participants through a series of team challenges, I noticed I was speaking both slowly and loudly, and relying on body language and non-verbal cues for a large part of my communication. I later asked the client whether they noticed this bahavior, and I was gratified to learn that the delivery was interesting and ‘hardly noticeable.’
As all of these participants were from non-western cultures, none of them had previously taken part in an experiential team building program. The enthusiastic response to both the activities and the interchange between the participants was overwhelming, and at the conclusion of the program I had multiple participants asking me how they could learn and implement the team building facilitation skills in their own organizations and communities.
Although I received no monetary compensation for the program, I felt a sense of gratitude and pride in being able to give something that I know they benefited from. Next month I have donated another team building program to an educational foundation – I wonder what I will learn next!