Sunday, August 03, 2008

Update from SEA

Hey all, sorry for not blogging any of my recent adventures. I
neglected to set things up in advance for remote postings to this
site, and accessing it directly seemed a bit unwise in light of some
of the other content that is posted here.

My agenda in SE Asia has seven items. I've reached #6! Here's a bit of
a rundown.

1. Arrive in-country and spend a day and a half with Team 1, who have
been living in Location 1. Encourage them, assess their work, and
coach them on how to use remaining time. This went quite well; a
little sympathy and enthusiasm and encouragement helped smooth over a
few rough patches so they could finish well. And jetlag was on my
side: I woke at 3:00 am, the second day, and had time to read all of
85 or so interviews they had conducted in the last few weeks before we
met for a meeting at 10:00. When the day cooled down we travelled to
another part of the city for a couple hours of prayer-walking as well
– what a privilege.

2. Travel to Location 2, the city where Team 2 is living, to spend 4-5
days with them including a three-day team vacation. Encourage them,
assess their work, and coach them on how to use remaining time. With
the vacation, the associated travel, and the need to meet with team
members one-on-one and lead them in a research strategy meeting, I did
not have the chance to go out and spend time with any of their
friends. Several dropped in though, and I had some good conversations
with their host. More about him later. This group of researchers
includes stronger personalities and they've had a few struggles.

3. Return to Location 1 to do a three-day debriefing with Team 1; try
to get my head around what they learned so I can help finish their
mobilization projects. Debriefing is an art. I think this one went
well, but did hit some snags trying to coordinate plans with my friend
co-leading this time, and trying to give the team what they were
asking for as well as what they did not know they needed.

4. Along with Team 1, attend a five-day meeting of others doing
various kinds of work across the region. Build relationships, listen,
seek to understand what their lives are like, look for points of
connection. Say goodbye to Team 1 as they return to the US. What a
great opportunity to spend time with like-minded people. I did
struggle a bit, seeking how to explain myself, and was frustrated by
my inability to communicate clearly and positively on that.
Nevertheless, had a good time and made some connections that may prove
helpful. Oh, and my Kiwi friend PW was there from New Zealand. She
made sure to tell me how helpful she is finding my book Through Her
Eyes; she's been getting it into the hands of many others who find it
helpful as well.

5. Enjoy some "down time" in Location 1. Can I just say, if you are
looking for a place to write your next novel, this is the place.
Creativity is just in the air, I think, and it's such an easy place to
live. I spent a couple hours one morning just thinking of imaginative
writing projects and wondering if I could just rent a small place for
a month or two to just write and relax, go for long walks on the
beach, meet with friends every other day or so, and do a bit of
language learning, tourism, and sport on the side. That would be the

6. Travel back to Location 2 to join four days of writing and wrap-up
with Team 2.
7. Travel with Team 2 to Location 1 for four days of debriefing.

Well, I've made it to the penultimate agenda item, writing days in
Location 2. They have done more interviews than Team 1, because there
are more of them and they had more time. I counted 162 interviews. I
have been anticipating this might be the most challenging piece, but
we shall see.

1 comment:

Megan Noel said...

i am glad you have gotten some down time. it sounds heavenly there...
"creativity is in the air"? sign me up!
oh, i bought my tickets to SF yesterday. nusz and i are going! well, 1st i messed up and bought tickets to LA. DOH! anyway, sorted that out. we are going to de Young and SFMOMA for the Frida Kahlo exhibit and then I don't know what else, but we will be near china town...(our hotel) only staying 2 nights.