The Tibetan Jewish Youth Exchange (TJYE) was established to enhance the cultural identity of both Jewish & Tibetan youth through informal education & to forge links between the Jewish & Tibetan diaspora communities. We actively help these communities' youth movements to empower young people, that they can become leaders & make a difference. This blog will record the continuing work of the project's volunteers, including Jewish volunteers in India & Tibetan leaders on exchange in the UK.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Tuesday 22 June - I was well enough to come in and lead the day's session. Phantok says the one he ran on time management and a typical day in the office went well. So today we did communications skills, using the WUJS programme. We did exercises to show the communicative importance of voice, movement, eye contact, use of hands, confidence and behaviour. It was games all the way through, so attention or interest wasn't a problem. Some of the leaders had trouble with maintaining an open posture, saying they felt more comfortable with crossed arms or legs. I told them it's important to feel natural, but if they can get over that discomfort it's a good thing. After the session I went to see an American girl I'd met, Stephanie, who is a professional campus organisation coordinator and trainer and who's volunteering with the Tibetan Woman's Association. We arranged that she would run Wednesday's session on Effective Meetings while I went to the hospital to get my mystery illness checked out. So I spent early afternoon briefing her.

Wednesday 23 June - Doctor told me I have Giardia and gave me antibiotics, saying it will get better withing 48 hours. When I got into the Longsho offices at the end of the morning, Stephanie was finishing off her session. I could tell as I walked in that it had gone extremely well. She's very professional, doing this sort of thing so naturally. Everyone's attention was perfectly focused. She gave me her notes afterwards and summarised what she'd done: types of meetings, process versus content, planning and agenda, discussion sequence, facilitator role, how to cope with difficult people and conflict, how to bring introverts out of their shell, what to do with points if you're running out of time... She said she's got a huge amount of resources and passed me and Longsho business cards. Anyway, a real success. Cheryl Sklan told me before I flew out here, that my role was to organise the best seminar possible and to know that it might mean networking and bringing in outside facilitators.

Thursday 24 June - Final proper day of seminar. I ran a morning session on budgeting which finished with an exercise in financial planning for an imaginary project. There was some misunderstanding about some of the techniques - such as planning fundraising to build on current resources and doing accounts in the middle of the project to allow you to replan the remainder - but by the end everyone had understood. I'd organised an afternoon computer skills session at the LHA (Louisiana Himalaya Association), where a trained instructor worked with the participants on Word and Excel. They drew up some financial spreadsheets, so it was reinforcement of some of the stuff they'd done in the morning.

Friday 25 June - Review and evaluation. Played some games, gave a memory refresher on each of the seminar sessions and handed out evaluation forms. The final question on the forms was "What are the first 3 things the new office workers should do when they take over?" Here are the answers I got:

- Recruit new leaders / members (x3)
- Be punctual (x3)
- Fundraising (x2)
- Be committed (x2)
- Be true to yourself
- Be active most of the time, especially during camps
- Use effective methods from seminar
- Don't be lazy
- Know Longsho structure, aims and objectives and work towards them
- Be effective in communicating and understanding
- Show initiative
- Meet expectations of fellow members
- Be flexible
- Update Longsho plan

I've got the rest of the evaluation forms to bring back. We should go over them to help us with future volunteers.

One of the new initiatives that has come from this seminar is the board of trustees, close friends of Longsho in a position to see the bigger, longer term picture and offer advice. Longsho are thinking of 4 specific people who will be invited when the new office workers take over, later in the summer. I said I would speak to those I could when I get back.

Monday I will be going to the leaders' meeting to say goodbye to everyone and to speak to Phantok about getting the report finished and sent off. Then I'm off to Manali and Ladakh.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Thursday and Friday went so much better. Sessions were on the idea of setting up a Longsho board of trustees, what funders want and how to approach them, and writing reports. The board of trustees session led to another constructive discussion. But the feel of the sessions themselves were really positive. I used some more typical youth movement approaches: more games & more interaction, and trying to draw conclusions out via questions and personal examples, rather than imposing the answers on them myself.

I was supposed to meet all the participants on Sunday for a trip together to a swimming pool, but I've got a bit ill, flu and a dodgy stomach so I told Phantok I wasn't coming. I took him through the plans for today's session on time management - quite a strong programme, taken mainly from the World Union of Jewish Students website - in case I was too ill to run it. Afraid I did need the extra day to recover, so trusting all went well. Am hoping I'm going to be well enough for tomorrow and the rest of the week.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

The good news is we just finished the second day of seminar - covering the quite substantial rootkeeper method of analysing organisations and looking at the future of Longsho's steering group - and both today and yesterday ended in quite involved discussions in Tibetan, something I could leave the participants to get on with, knowing they're dealing with the issues and addressing questions that are facing Longsho.

The bad news is I got some feedback passed on via Phantok, that so far the sessions have been really useful in terms of content but that presentation has been quite dry. OK, it's not really bad news as such: of course I'm glad the participants mentioned it to Phantok and he mentioned it to me, because now I know and it gives me the opportunity to put things right. At the same time, it's natural that I'm a bit disheartened and wondering how I can improve. I think the subject matter itself has been dry (but important), but that is not a valid excuse. It is up to me to inject a bit of life into the sessions and to set the tone for everybody else. Phantok suggested getting a bit more animated. Tomorrow is more games based, and as good a time to start as any.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

All the Longsho leaders are back from camp, which was very successful, and we started seminar today. Phantok and I are running it for more people than I expected. The guy from Darjeeling couldn't make it, but there are two Dickyiling leaders here and four or five from Dharamshala. As far as I'm concerned, it's a good thing. It means more trained people around the office and ensures the knowledge isn't concentrated in the hands of a few on whom everyone else has to depend. Sessions today were on hopes, fears and expectations and getting an overview of the regions. They're going to give short presentations on their respective regions in just an hour from now.

The last few days I've also edited the first few pages of the report Phantok's started. Just checking the English and expression really - it's still his work.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Just got back from a two day visit to Longsho summer camp. 45 Tibetan teenagers and 10 leaders in an idyllic school venue, bordered by tea fields at the bottom of the Himalayas. Bit like Jewish camp, only the weather's more consistent and even the harder looking boys are better behaved. They don't have the confidence we do yet. Most of them came over from Tibet when they were 7 or 8. Now they're learning about being a Longsho leader themselves. Some of that Youth Movement mythology, that's so vital, is starting to get more entrenched. That's a good thing. Funny to see the stuff that's made it over via the exchange. 'Father Abraham' in Tibetan. Ladders. Duck-duck-goose. Everything going well. Longsho more than capable of putting on a good camp.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Back into the world of Longsho and TJYE. Slowly though. Last night I sat in on a final leaders' meeting before summer camp. I was asked to take a small session on personal example and leaders' behaviour on camp. We played a couple games to illustrate how one person's behaviour can impact on everyone else and then we thought about figures who've influenced us in the past. Finally we brought the issues together in discussion and drew up a list of qualities to aim for as leaders on Longsho summer camp.

Everyone left for the camp site today. I was left in the office to get on with finalising the post-camp seminar programme. The kids arrive on camp tomorrow. I'll also visit and stay overnight, to see the real purpose of the youth movement.