June 30th, 2008

Salaam Y'all,
Greetings from hot, dusty Ktown! Ain't it great :)

The drive to the Silk Road office was about 30 minutes from the guesthouse. People were out on the street visiting vendors, the local naan shop for their breakfast bread, girls walking to school with their black uniforms and white head coverings, street workers mucking out the gutters and animals standing patiently at the local butcher for their turn to become the source of protein for a family. Ahhhh, Ktown :)

The training center is not air conditioned (yet) but was not too bad with fans going full blast. A friend of mine who started a leadership development institute in Herat came as a guest teacher to lead the advanced seminar on Strengths Based Leadership.We had the students come in a day or two before the seminar to do an assessment tool to find out their top 5 strengths out of a list of 34. This is a tool that Gallup has put together and used by many corporate organizations, teams, and more. They absolutely loved it! During the seminar, we talked about each individual's strengths and how they would possibly work well with others in the room and in what areas there might be some conflict. Even our translator wanted to take the assessment for himself and didn't charge me as much for his services as he ended up joining the class more than translating. The class helped the 2-3 who really needed things to be interpreted so it turned out well.

I slipped out of the advanced session into another room to facilitate a workshop for our basic leadership students. Not many came mostly due to miscommunication on directions to the new location. Definite learning experience on giving directions in a city that has few street names and signs to direct people! Anyway, the ones that came were engaged and really encouraged me in what they said. The workshop's focus was to allow the students an opportunity to "report" to me how they were implementing what they had learned in the April seminar. I asked questions and they took off in their answers talking about work and family issues.

Some comments that were made when talking about leadership character qualities and servant leadership:
" I have started taking more of a personal interest in the people who work around me. I ask them questions about their personal life and even gave money to one person to help with a need. I realize that I need to be among them instead of sitting at my desk behind a closed door."

" I am not a dictator any more! I bring in the people on who work with me and ask them what they think about a problem, if they have any ideas, and now I really listen to what they are saying."

" I am so much nicer to my workers now. People are noticing a change in me and telling me that everyone is noticing. I never realized I was so bad!"

We talked for 1 1/2 hours, ate lunch with the advanced class and talked for another 1 1/2 hrs. Two students drove in from other parts of the country... not an easy drive for sure! A few in the advanced class came in from out of town too. They are committed to the program!

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