Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Young Professional about virtual exchange

Since 2006, ICCOenKerkinActie and Togetthere enable Young Professionals (YPs) working on development to exchange experiences about their work. The YPs work for local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as capacity development advisor. Most of them work in isolation and have limited possibility to meet colleagues face-to-face to share experiences.

Each year two discussion rounds, taking five weeks each, are organised virtually where the YPs share experiences about how to strengthen the operations of their partner organisations. The group is using a peer-to-peer coachingsmodel. Most YPs participate two rounds. Just before starting a discussion round, the YPs are asked by an online survey to share the topics which keep them awake at night or have a high degree of urgency for them. Some of the selected topics deal with: "How to make my work sustainable?" "How to create local ownership for what I am contributing?", or "How to position myself as professional in a different cultural context?" .

After this survey, key individuals, who are willing to take a leadership role in the exchange of topics related to their work, meet via Skype with the online facilitator to elaborate the objectives and facilitation process. The role of the online facilitator is to design the online process based on the wishes and needs of the group as expressed in the survey. So far, D-groups and Skype have been used as the most effective and popular social media for exchange.

A discussion round takes average around 5 weeks. Case studies or key questions, introduced by the YPs, are mostly used as a basis for discussion. At the end of each discussion, one of the participants writes a note which is published at this blogpost 'Everything you always wanted to know about capacity development'. Literature is collected by asking people for links to interesting websited or publications. These references and benchmarks are documented at a virtual platform at ICCO-Cad wiki. In this way, the group builds a share memory.

Recently one of the Young Professionals shared her experiences by a video interview. View the video:

Music on video:
Song:  Una MaƱana: Musicians:  Omar Meza and Fernando Rey, for more information contact: e-mail. yoshihatsukatana@gmail.com

Some comments which were shared by other YPs in evaluations last year:
"The way you experience the discussions and what you get out of it is of course different for each.....When I think back of the discussion I am not able to reproduce all the contents directly, but the first thing I recall is that feeling that the (pre)discussions were good moments to take a step back, to reflect and to share experiences."

"Just being able to share is valuable in itself. It helped me to concretely formulate my questions and issues I encounter."

The online exchange was facilitated by Simon Koolwijk, Facili2transform. More about online facilitation, you can read at Simon's website http://www.facili.nl/

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