Thursday, July 17, 2008

Meeting old friends, Canberra airport chaos

Today to Queanbeyan early for a workshop. This was to be held at the Letchworth Neighbourhood Centre. The Canberra taxi driver got lost. This is pretty normal. Queanbeyan has its own taxi service, so Canberra cabbies do not get a lot of traffic there except from Canberra airport.

Not a big group at the workshop, although attendees came from various parts of southern NSW. I do like running country training courses. They tend to be friendlier and a lot more fun. Because people have to travel they always start a little late, in this case people were held up by roadworks at Bungendore, but we still finished an hour early.

Any trainer will tell you that there is an enormous amount of satisfaction when people get what you are trying to put across.

This was one my second Queanbeyan workshop. Like any trainer, I distribute evaluation forms to try to gauge participant reaction. While the the previous forms were positive, you cannot really know results until later.

In this case, some of those were already putting into action the skills I was trying to install at the firts workshop. I felt a real sense of satisfaction.

In modern philosophy and jargon, we trainers are meant to call ourselves facilitators in the sense that we faciliate learning. I actually think that this is very silly.

In these workshops, I have to get across certain skills that I know and the participants don't. I am not facilitating. I am driving, controlling, performing, anything that will assist learning. If they cannot do what I want them to do at the end, then I have failed. This is a far more pro-active approach than that implied by the fairly wishy-washy facilitation concept.

Once I had bid them all goodbye and tidied up the room, I called a taxi for the airport. Now here I had an unexpected pleasure. My taxi driver was an older Polish bloke who had lived in Queanbeyan for many years.

By way of background here, I lived in Queanbeyan for fifteen years and was very active in community activities. But that was a long time ago. Now here I had some one who could bring me up to date on all the people I had known.

So we chatted and chatted.

We talked about the local police before the new police station and the huge increase in police numbers with their new professional approaches.

The past was not all good, we also spoke about the illegal casinos protected by the police, but there is actually something to be said for police who saw their role in broader terms than the current black-letter law approach.

I am reminded here of the country policeman who used to say to drunks up or down. Up meant home. Down meant the police station, a night in the cells, then a morning session chopping the policeman's wood. No one was ever booked!

We spoke about the various people who had made up Queanbeyan, one of Australia's first truly multinational communities. Poles, Ukranians, Serbs, Macedonians, Croats, Italians, Germans, Greeks.

This was a community of huge home gardens that provided a wide range of produce, some of which went into the production of illegal liquors. Political campaigning in Queanbeyan could be a liver threatening exercise!

Our arrival at the airport was far too soon from my viewpoint. I asked him for the fare. He blanked out the meter and said let's say $25. It should have been at least $10 more. We parted in great amity.

I was early anyway, but flights were in chaos. This had started with ice on the planes in the morning - I was late getting into Canberra - and then continued. So I got a beer and started reading Jasper Fforde's First Among Sequels. I had bought this earlier in the day because I thought youngest (Clare) would like it.

Then, blow me down, David Neyle appeared on his way to Adelaide.

In the past when I flew a lot I was sure to find someone I knew at any airport. This is no longer true. It's partly because I fly less, partly because the world has got bigger.

David is an expert trainer and one of my Ndarala colleagues, so we chatted. Then the woman who runs the Munjuwa Queanbeyan Aboriginal Corporation came up. We had met on a previous training course in Queanbeyan. She was seeing family off for the Northern Territory.

So I had a great time. I do love villages.

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