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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

SeeChange Residential Event: Day 2

It's been a long day today. I was going to get up early, but when the alarm went off at 6am I thought "stuff it", took the battery out and went back to sleep.

The program started at 9am, with a plenary analysing the current situation. It was such a long time ago I can't even remember what we did... It was about an hour later that things got started for us, with our team of 8 retiring to our Project Room, where we set about attempting to fill in the Theory of Change (TOC).

What is Theory of Change and why should I care?

A Theory of Change is an innovative tool to design and evaluate social change initiatives. By creating a blueprint of the building blocks required to achieve a social change initiative’s long-term goal, such as improving a neighborhood’s literacy levels or academic achievement, a Theory of Change offers a clear roadmap to achieve your results identifying the preconditions, pathways and interventions necessary for an initiative’s success.

I was vaguely aware of TOCs (see pdf example here) through my work at CILASS, but had never taken part in producing one.

It was a useful tool, providing us with a framework within which we could freely discuss various aspects of our project. We may go off down a rathole for a bit, but knowing that we could then return to the TOC removed the fear of becoming lost in the myriad of ideas that were floating around.

With our team being made up of staff from central support services, academics, and students (the other student having come all the way from Macedonia to join us) the discussion was incredibly rich. As I sat there listening to and partaking in our journey through the vast plain of ideas, I couldn't help but think, "This is how BIg Decisions are made!".

It was fascinating to observe the ebb and flow of energy in the room. Some people were quiet, but would suddenly come out with something that was vitally important. You knew you should listen to them because they'd clearly thought about it quite a bit. Others would be full of ideas, and you could sense their passion. It was also interesting when someone said something that someone else could not agree with. The issue would be dropped, but you'd know it was there, under the table, and sure enough half-an-hour later it would re-emerge, along with a resolution.

Thinking on the day's events now, I'm struck by how much of this goes on in our everyday lives. We are negotiating and bouncing ideas around in this manner on a daily basis; it's just diluted by life and we don't realise what complex interactions we are actually engaging in. I think it's amazing.

...It's also pretty exhausting when done in a such a concentrated manner - I'm shattered! I won't be going to bed until after 1am though as from midnight I have my weekly coaching call. Let's hope this dodgy Internet connection doesn't give up half way through. For some bizarre reason all the traffic from this hotel goes via Germany. Clearly, the hotel management is unaware that the UK too does actually have ISPs.

Anyhow, it's back to Sheffield tomorrow lunchtime for my final writing class, and then some serious revision. Thursday will be pretty full on with a lecture in the morning followed by a training in Adobe Dreamweaver for the CILASS Ambassador taking over my job, then our Japanese graduation ceremony! Our Japanese language tutors are unable to attend our real graduation in July, and thus we are using our final class for a special recreation of a Japanese ceremony. Isn't that a great idea? They are so sweet. Thursday night I'm taking part in some event - looking after guests or something, I have no idea what it is really - then on Friday it's Japan Day where I'll be taking photos of people in Kimono all day. That's also the day of our last ever class. Gulp.

At the weekend my japanese language teacher from Bristol uni and a classmate are coming to visit, so I think I'll have to save breathing for Monday.

Anyway, must be off.

Tarra xxx


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