"We've never had this opportunity before"
The staff attending training hold various positions: a few are office based - working in finance or administration roles, while others work in remote field offices a days walk or more from their nearest colleagues. Still others work as nurses, physios or lab technicians. Some have their own work computer, a few have a personal lap top and others only have access to a shared computer in their work team. The one thing they all have in common is their hunger to learn.
So what are they learning? The original plan was to give an overview of MS Office Programs, with a focus on Word, PowerPoint and introductory level Excel. The reality has started way before that and in some offices gone far beyond.
We've started and finished each day with a "Happy face" slide to see how participants were feeling and have covered the whole range from "happy", "very happy" and "excited" - because they have an opportunity for training; "worried" and "concerned" - because some were very much aware of how little they knew; and on completion of the training "sad" because it has finished and many wished we had longer; and "proud" - and rightly so, because they achieved so much in such a short time.
Our beginner groups have learnt how to open, file, save, save as, insert and modify tables, do calculations in tables, insert and format pictures, create columns and headings and use bullets and numbers, as well as using keyboard shortcuts, mini toolbar and various "right click" menu options; the advanced groups have additionally created citations, bibliographies, added table of contents and cover pages. All participants created amazing PowerPoint presentations with images and text and added animations and transitions. In the photo gallery below there are images of the list of achievements from the Surkhet groups.
The group in Gamgadhi had the benefit of internet access, so they were also able to learn about blogs, Google docs, and Twitter and watch a demonstration of a professional development session #EDchat as we joined the Sunday afternoon Twitter #aussieED, as well as learn how to use Padlet - an online collaboration tool.
In each location it has been a pleasure to work with people who are keen and hungry to learn, and to see them quickly apply their new skills to their work role. It has also been fun to share with each group the photos of other groups as many of the staff know each other, but rarely meet. They have also had a lot of fun with my faltering Nepali, as I drop the occasional word here and there: "Use colour sparingly in your PowerPoint" - "rangi changi chaina" (not multi-coloured), "ekdam raamro" (very good) and of course time for chiya! For me, there was some adjusting to local habits, with a tentative "huncha?" (OK?) after each activity, and then to watch for the almost imperceptible sideways woggle of the head - Yes! Good, we can move on.
So for now, we have a break for a couple of weeks as many in Nepal celebrate the festival of Dashain, and then we head to three more offices in Western Nepal.