Watching a car crash in slow motion

After 5 months of banging my head against a proverbial brick wall the Ministry of Fish have finally decided they will acknowledge my existence and let me do the work I’m here to do.

Today this involves being a part of the 2 day Training the Trainer workshop being delivered to Fisheries staff from the provinces.

In true Cambodian style I finally received the schedule for said workshop yesterday afternoon and to my dismay noted that the day would be begin at 7am.

I made the executive decision to arrive a little ‘late’ at 7.30 on the assumption that a) the first part was administrative in nature and would be of little interest to me and b)some people would be late.

I duly rocked up at 7.30am this morning to discover a group of 6, slightly bewildered, Cambodians hovering uncertainly outside the room and not a colleague of mine in sight.

I greeted the unknowns and sat myself down in the room to wait.  Luckily, I’d had the foresight to grab an iced coffee enroute and so happily slurped on that as I caught up on social media as the clocked ticked on.  Finally, at 8am one of my colleagues arrived (Smiley-jokey Loeng) appearing as bemused as myself and the others at the lack of any form of action taking place.  He asked me where various people were and I in return asked him the same question.  A case of phone call cat and mouse followed as he tried in vain to track down the missing facilitators and delegates.


Finally, at 8am we had enough delegates and big cheese, Mr Hairy mole on his chin, in attendance and it was therefore deemed appropriate to start (please note that at this point my numpty boss and the main organiser of the whole event, Sophea, had still failed to put in an appearance.

Starting involved me, Mr Hairy mole and Smiley-jokey taking our seats at the head table as the delegates looked on (don’t get me started on the room layout!).  Speeches followed (I have no clue what was said as no one bothered to translate) and I was asked to say a few words (I did my best hello my name is Sara in Khmer and quickly reverted to English to waffle on about how excited I was to help staff at the FiA support learning and development in this way).  We then took group photos (to prove to the EU we were there and thus ensure everyone gets their daily subsistence allowance (DSA)) and finally at 8.30am we were off.


Fannying about with paperwork

The first 10 minutes of the workshop involved the distribution of lots of pieces of paper by numpty boss who had finally put in an appearance at 8.25am and some general chitchat amongst the group.

And then Smiley-jokey and a bloke named Savun (I have no idea who he is other than he’s from Kampoong Chnang) took to the stage.

A powerpoint presentation was opened and, despite not being able to read Khmer, I was able to quickly decide that it had far too much information on it.

Smiley-jokey and Savun did a great double act, demonstrating the amazingly bad teacher/trainer/facilitator habit of talking the hind legs off a donkey as they went on and on about facilitation, what it is and how to be good at it (I know this because I wrote the syllabus).  I have no idea if anyone in the audience wanted to get a word in edgeways as I couldn’t judge their facial expressions due to them gazing at their phones throughout this section.

And then, finally, the Duologue was broken by a brave soul asking a question.  As the guy fell silent Smiley-Jokey took a deep breathe and went to answer but he was just not quick enough – Mr Question had started up again.  This guy went on for approximately 5 minutes (yep I ended up timing him) before stopping once more.

I made the mistake of looking up at this point to see Smiley-Jokey looking pleadingly in my direction.  He then asked me (in English obviously) if  there is a difference between a facilitator and a leader and if so what was it.

Erm, excuse me? What exactly were you and Savun banging on about for 1/2 an hour or so if it was not this exact question???

Thankfully, that question stayed in my head and didn’t come out of my mouth as I desperately scrambled around for ideas of how to answer this to a group of second language speakers.  In the end I reverted to my old faithful bag of tricks including lots of simple word maps combined with a generous dollop of dramatics and some ridiculous scenarios.

I think we finally got to where we needed to be and so I gratefully returned to my seat to witness what would happen next.

Basically, the next god knows how long went like this – slide over full of squiggly writing, long monologue or duologue with very little interaction with the trainees.  In short, how not to facilitate or train effectively 101.

After the break we finally got the trainees involved.  We looked at the differences between child and adult learners in groups equipped with flipchart paper and pens (and also the answers to this exact question on pages 9 through 11 of the whole course presentation that they were all issued with at the start).  And so I observed the farce that was one member of each group flicking through the handout, finding the answers and reading them for the scribe to transfer to the flipchart whilst other group members dicked about on their phones or went for a pee.


We then had feedback from each group.  I don’t know what they fed back, but it was long winded, involved waving around a rolled up piece of flipchart paper and pointing it at the their lists and then being bombarded with what were presumably questions from the rest of the group.  The feedback ended with each group being awarded a round of applause before Savun slipped seemlessly back into death by Powerpoint accompanied by monologue mode (smiley-jokey had disappeared by this point and hairy mole and numpty had been MIA since shortly after the opening shiz).

We finally hit the scheduled lunchtime of 12pm but still Savun droned on. Smiley-jokey was back in the room by this time and chipped in with a few comments that were obviously hilarious judging by the response and eventually at 1215 the morning was wrapped up.

I sit writing this blog in a slight daze.  In the past 5 hours I have witnessed a car crash of bad practice when delivering training, made ridiculously ironic by the fact that the subject is training the trainer.

I am now going to eat and try to regroup in preparation for whatever madness the afternoon brings.

Wish me luck!


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