Alice Springs 2014 Week 1 – Amanda Hamill
My first morning with the group was definitely a very different feel to any groups I have been with before…………… my first thought was ” Wow a tough crowd!” Eight sets of very blank eyes staring at me. My first thought was I hope someone other than me will actually speak! As it worked out after some brief introductions communication commenced. None of the participants knew each other but of course they all had things in common.
I gave the group a fun, light hearted account of who I am, and what the course was about, still no talking. I suggested that noise and discussion was a great thing, in my effort to create a warmish atmosphere despite the 35degrees outside. The first day was all about establishing rapport within the group, and making it ok for everybody to bring themselves to the group. There was a good mix of ages from early 20s to mid 50s. I got the feeling some of the older men were of the opinion that it was going to be a complete waste of time, which was confirmed a little later in the day. So after a shaky start of brief introductions we worked on some engagement rules, which the group, were able to develop. Other topics that were discussed on the first day were values and integrity. Both topics were well received and after much coaxing, discussion and about values went on for the whole afternoon.
Half of My pathways went home sick so I volunteered to take as many participants home as I could fit in, I thanked the universes for this opportunity because it allowed me to gain rapport in a completely non obvious way, this continued throughout the week.
It was very apparent that although this was a Jump Start program it was going to be very flexible in how it all came together, and very different from what I had originally planned. It was necessary to change the way I communicated with this group, as much as I was the trainer it was very necessary to allow them to take the lead in many discussions. They were initiated each morning with a communication activity. I strategically arranged for the group to elect a group leader who would ensure times for breaks etc were maintained. I made sure everyone voted for my elder more dubious gentleman, which turned out to be the best thing. He rose beautifully to the occasion and became completely engaged, plus it meant I didn’t have to be the hard a#&e!
I was so very surprised at how emotionally intelligent this group was, in many ways more advanced than many groups I have worked with. The labels they use are different to my ‘norm’ which is culturally significant. My afternoon drives were my education time, I have learnt about language, tribes and dreamtime stories. One of the participants were able to share with me some of my own history as he came from an area in NT were my parents worked on a cattle station, so it is true, keep people talking long enough and you will find the connection.
As the week progressed job applications were developed for those who had clear ideas of the next step and three participants were offered employment! One has commenced already and two commence next week and the week after, both want to complete the course, which made me feel very happy. It took quite a while for me to work out if the participants were enjoying the course or not but by day three they actually told me they all wanted to be there………….