Thursday, December 12, 2013

Steph's Project Reflection

The last three months have been a whirlwind to say the least. Despite being insanely excited about getting home in two days time for fresh vegetables and cheese galore, I can’t deny a certain sense of satisfaction with everything we’ve managed achieve over the course of our time working on the Ludoteca project. 

One of the most rewarding moments over the past week was presenting our work to the staff at our partner organisation Aldeas Infantiles SOS. Working with them has been a great experience, but as we have such little direct contact it is hard to know if our work is really appreciated. After our presentation, it was amazing to hear that the staff were thrilled with everything we had done, especially on the research side of things which has been my focus. 

It’s impressive how many changes in enthusiasm and motivation you can cycle through over three months. At the start of the trip I was full of excitement, planning my research project and sending reams of ideas and proposals to Aldeas Infantiles SOS. This then crashed severely after a few weeks feeling like I had made hardly any progress due to staff at Aldeas Infantiles SOS taking so long to approve each aspect of my project. As I should have expected, everything did work out in the end and the last two weeks have been wonderful, topped off by some broad grins and thanks from the Aldeas Infantiles SOS staff. 

Steph and Christina with educators and children
I think the biggest thing I will take away from this trip is the importance of working through people when doing development work. Some of the most frustrating times on this trip have been due to lack of communication with our partner organisation, the educators or other staff in the centres. To work effectively and sustainably in other countries you really need to work with people, making sure that you are helping them in a way that they want, and that your work enables them to gain skills which they can continue to use after you have left. 

I feel that my research project will really help Aldeas Infantiles SOS to improve the behaviour management skills of the educators in the centres, giving them the resources they need to improve the learning environment for the children. In this way I feel like I have successfully worked through our partner organisation, however if I could go back to the first few weeks of the project I would definitely have worked closer with them in the planning and preparation stages of the research to save a huge amount of stress in the middle stages of my time here!

By Steph Hovey

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