Connecting local responses around the world
The AAS (Aquatic Agriculture System) program final event for the 2013 was Knowledge Fair which was convened in Battambang province, Northwest of Cambodia. The Workshop aimed at bringing knowledge and experience for sharing and create new learning.
The workshop held for three days, the first two days were on exposure visit to a community after they have started to take steps of implementing community action plan, conduct overall After Action Review (AAR) of the whole process of Community Visioning, in particular ‘reflecting on how Community Life Competence Process’ (CLCP) via SALT could be applied and how helpful the tool is. Story Telling was a one day event which aimed to bring the workshop participants to tell story of change after applying CLCP to their life and work. The third day was about communicating AAS strategic Framework to wider audiences and Knowledge Sharing from presentation of Salaphum (a type of action research) and preliminary results of water management study by Tonle Sap Authority.
What I want to share here is the power of “Story Telling”. I see it as a powerful tool to have the workshop participants especially those who are community level to share their stories and identified lesson learnt. The story to be shared has to be precise, clear, specific and concrete. In order to make the story telling more effective, the group of participants were divided into small group of 3 and each person will have to take turn to tell their own stories while listeners have to listen careful and provide feedback to the stories which could either be critical comments or suggestions or questions for clarification. Everyone has the same period of time to share the story. In the first round, the time for story telling is 5 minutes and 7 minutes for feedback. In the second round the story telling was 4 minutes and the feed back is 6 minutes, while the third round the story telling is only 2 minutes and the feedback time is only 5 minutes. In each round participants have to change to new group. Playing a game of ‘a bird in a cage’ was quite helpful for participants to find new group with completely new members.
In the first round, participants complained that they do not have enough time for story telling. They have a lot to tell while the time allowed only 5 minutes. But after the third round, they were surprised how they stories could be condensed and make it only in two minutes. They complained the same on time for feedback. I saw this process as good because generally in the first time, story teller would want to share every single thing they have known about, but given time constraint they have to reduce some detail of the story and make it more specific and concrete. They enjoyed the sharing and had fun along the way. This was surprising to me as well. While the detail of the story was reduced, they were still able to tell concrete facts especially the reason of why ‘change had happened’ the way it is.
After the third round finished, participants were asked to write down their own story on a table and identified lesson learns and title to their story. This is a challenge for our participants especially those who are from community facilitators. The lesson learns is sometimes confused with factual situation in the story. The workshop facilitators have to stay in each of the small group and help them to identify lesson learns and story title.
Although the process was a bit challenging, everyone was satisfied with their end results whereby they identified proper lesson learns (though not perfect) and ‘workable’ story title. I am glad with this result. Although the day has a lot of activities required facilitation from the workshop facilitators, I found it exciting and the best time to learn. I have learned a lot from the participants. They are very good story tellers however they do not know very well on how to put their stories into writing and drawing a comprehensive lesson learns from individual story. I still find the story telling day was a powerful tool to share and learn from individual story of change.
All of the lesson learns will be compiled and established as “common principle for action”. Those lessons were considered as ‘knowledge Assets’ which is a treasure and very important to individual life. The story tellers were required to write down their name and contact address on their identified lesson learns for future contact and sharing. There is a total of 45 stories were shared. The next issue is how the stories could be compiled and share with the AAS hub across the countries and region. The lesson learns drawing from individual stories are worth sharing across the hub.