MY SECOND ADVENTURE WITH YLI (YOUNG LEADERS INTERNATIONAL)
It all started with a simple nod to the question ‘Are you with me?’ This was basically how my brother and I were asked to help facilitate the next up-coming YLI program entitled ‘Psychology of Communication’. We were only 19 and 15 years old. The job itself sounded simple and had the sound of ‘power’ coated all over it. With these thoughts in mind, I gladly agreed to the job without any hesitation. What could go wrong? Little did I know it wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought. On 15th December morning, I double and tripled checked to ensure I had all the necessary materials for the course. How embarrassing it would have been if the facilitator has forgotten to bring something. Without any further delay, we got into our mom’s car and headed off for Life College, the venue for the event.
We began with an ice breaking session to get everyone to start on the right foot. With communication as the main theme, the ice breaker emphasizes on the importance of quality communication. Participants were asked to form shapes using a rope while being blind-folded. Here was where the fun part began. In my mind, I had always thought that my job was just to explain the rules and ensure everything went smoothly with minimal hiccups. However, being observant as always, Aunty Eng Eng noticed that I was busy having fun watching the participants colliding into each other and not taking note of the participants’ strengths and areas for improvement. Quickly she tipped me that the responsibility of a trainer does not only mean the job of ensuring the smoothness of the activity, but it also required me to swiftly identify the gems of each participant and teach them how to further polish their gems.
Realizing it, I quickly changed my approach and took note of the ins-and-outs of the participants. Then, I began to debrief the participants. Being still green and inexperienced, I had difficulties summing up all the key points of the activity. Seeing my SOS signal flaring up, Aunty Eng Eng came to the rescue and pulled me out of the water. Yet, Aunty Eng Eng still gave me credit for a job well done. Hearing these inspiring words, I was further motivated to do my best and not let her down! We carried out many interesting activities that stressed upon the importance of good communication skills. May it be the choice of words, or our facial expression, or even our very own body language, they are all vital in establishing a successful understanding and heartfelt relationship among all parties concern.
Being a trainer for these three days was indeed an eye opener. It definitely wasn’t easy. All along, I had always presumed being a trainer was easy. Easy job, easy money too. Well I guess this really showed how shallow my thoughts were. We always see Aunty Eng Eng strutting in full of confidence imparting her valuable knowledge and wisdom as if it were behind her fingers. Often we take these simple things for granted and not see the rough side of the rock. But now the truth was unveiled to me. So much preparation was required to make the course a success. Preparation of materials, going through the modules till I know it inside out, pre-empting questions and answers and not to mention, also to observe all during the course so as to be able to give accurate feedback. Like in a movie, we only see the end results and not every of the efforts put in by the actors, actresses, directors and entire crew. We never take an extra step to go behind the scene to see the huge dedication put into producing that blockbuster.
Aunty Eng Eng has pointed out many areas which I can improve as a trainer and what my gems are. I am truly grateful for this rare opportunity given to me. The knowledge she has imparted in me, I would never have obtained from just being a mere participant. Such lessons can only be acquired through real hands-on experience… one which I was given the opportunity. Also the word ‘power’ must not be attached to it. Responsibility and Commitment do. I learnt to move from ‘Doing it Right’ to a higher level of ‘Doing the Right Thing’. Doing the Right Thing can only happen when one decides to embrace that sense of responsibility and commitment. Wow, this is Learning in Action. All it took was 3 days to understand what and who a true leader is…One who serves and not one who is power crazy. Looks like many world’s statesmen need to undergo this experience too.
That night I went back exhausted. I laid down on my bed deep in thoughts… reflecting at all the activities my brother and I facilitated. I dare say they went on very well. They weren’t exactly perfect but it was more then what I had hoped for. This thought alone was more then sufficient to put a smile in my dream that night. If ever this challenging opportunity is offered again, I don’t even have to consider it. Why? That’s because I would be the first to take it up. : )
Presented with joy by,
Quah Min Yuan