Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Measure of Success

What is our measure of success? How do we know we've accomplished the goal at hand? If I was in America, I'm pretty sure I'd know how to list some action points that should be met to label success, whether in daily life or in activities/programs.

Here in Ethiopia, however, in another culture, where things work differently than everything my worldview has created it to be... success must be measured or viewed differently. For example, what allows me to say "yes, this time in Ethiopia was a success?"

Would I say if I teach x,y,z in sports while we were here, that's success? would I say if we put on x number of events while here, that's success? Would I have to see x number of children changed forever due to my 2 weeks? Is it simply to make sure the children have an opportunity to be children during my time here through sports? What is it? What is the measure?

As a task oriented, to do list oriented person... not being able to evaluate the measure of success is a new experience for me. I'm used to action points with decisive YES I accomplished or NO, I did not. And actually, it's probably allowing me to give up control a bit more than my personality regularly desires due to the inability to measure success in the same terms that I'm familiar.

For example today, we would normally evaluate a "training session" or soccer/football event according to what gets accomplished, how well the children understand the drills (even if they cannot perform them well), the adaptability of the children's skill level, the attention span, level of the participants, etc, etc. However, nothing goes according to plan in Ethiopia and learning to work with what you have is a MUST.

Today we had our boys event (one of 3 this week) at the "field" - which I must remind you is a 'flat' surface, but is simply a dirt area, filled with many rocks, pebbles, even cobblestones in some areas throughout the surface, no grass. We had three staff member with us, only 1 of which is capable of working as a translator. We had more than 30+ boys attend without warning, 6 soccer balls, 16 Collierville track jersey tops we brought as pennies, and about 10-12 cones... Mr. McGoo and I looked at one another and quickly devised as best a plan as possible- he took 20+ of the skilled, older players, and I took the remaining 10-12 little bits. Mr. McGoo took the "translator" and I utilized two of the boys that knew the best English of the bunch.

I attempted the following: dribbling drills, passing drills, trapping drills, small scrimmage, heading drills, and taught them how to adequately "throw-in" the ball. My description, will not do any of it justice, so let me simply say that it was chaos - utter chaos at times. And yet, somehow I did all six activities with my group. Through it all there was sign language, repetitive instruction, crazy looks and expressions, detours for discipline and reprimand (i.e. throwing rocks at each other; picking the ball up with their hands as instructed otherwise, etc), detours in asking the masses around us to back up, get away, give us room and leave our soccer balls alone, examples run by me to show them how to do what I could not say in Amharic, a somewhat constant battle. BUT, at the end of the day, for my group, I can honestly say that regardless of the chaos of it all - 1. the boys enjoyed themselves; 2. we accomplished more than one activity and I was able to "instruct" a bit along the way; and 3. they smiled and hugged and kissed me before we departed for the evening.

So, what's the measure of success?


Kelly said...

Off the top of my head, maybe success can be measured in these terms: what would those boys have been doing if you had not been there? If they would have been huffing glue and stealing food, you offered a much better alternative = success.

Joseph said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joseph said...

I agree with Kelly. And let me add - those boys felt special in a way that they probably never had before as you took time to get to their country, made the effort to provide them with activities (usually they would have just been left on the sidelines), and let them kiss you with their snotty noses. I love it!