I got a little carried away under the section “lessons learned” while writing our mid-term CIDA report. I started writing out things I have personally learned throughout my adventure. It was 3am on a bus to Florinaopolis, Brazil so I realised too late that the question refered to lessons learned specific to the work in my host country. Even though I could not use them in the report, I thought instead of deleting them, I’d share them in my blog:
1. Workshop attendance is not always important. What is important is what is learned by the youth and the facilitator. So is the bonding and the time shared together.
2. Cultures are dynamic; one cannot preserve all elements of a culture. That is okay.
3. Even if a culture is perceived to have a more communal ‘sense’ than others, there will always be some form of hierarchy and individualism – it is a humanistic.
4. One must start at the very basics when teaching something. Even if it is too basic for some, and thought to be common sense, do not assume one knows something nor teach for the majority: include everyone.
5. Discrimination is real and should not be underestimated or brushed off as seeming weak. Regardless of the motivation and intelligence of a person, in some places being a minority can hinder one from completing high school or getting a job. This is not okay. But it needs to be recognized.
6. Preparation is essential for conducting a good workshop. But, it does not mean that all that is prepared is taught nor all that is learned can be prepared.
7. Read everything even if it does not immediately interest you. Because even though you read the Toronto Star every day all summer the one topic that you continuously skipped over (the Tar Sands in Alberta) will end up being the first thing the coordinator for a new project asks you about when you tell him you are from Canada.
8. Carry business cards with you. Even out to dinner. Someone will always ask you where you’re from, what are you doing, and sometimes they can be right in your field.
9. Ask directions when traveling if you are not 100 percent sure. And maybe even though it will hit your pride a little, if possible, ask for them in English because after ten go rights and 7 go lefts, izquierda and derecha will begin to sound the same.
ps After writing (and then deleting this) from the CIDA report, I with two fellow interns, Tulliana Duiker and Kirsten Kennedy spent an incredible long weekend in Brazil!