Saturday, January 15, 2011 So, today was one intense day, that’s for sure. Yet, another practice in the meaning of partnership. The 4 PAID administrators and the 4 of us, all around a table, agreeing to be frank, honest, and open. Marty and Jim cut to the chase – I translated it as “tokoti njamba directment” – we entered the forest directly instead of skirting around the forest. This became a recurring theme – “tokoti njamba” – and helped to diffuse the lack of cultural understanding.
What I loved most about this day – one long 6 hour meeting – was the way everyone listened respectfully each other. Everyone had their time to speak. It took a lot of time, not an easy thing for Americans to sit for hours like this willingly letting everyone have their say. I think, overall, it created an environment conducive to exploring the feasibility of a real partnership between PAID and GBA. All my many hours preparing an agenda and translating all 10 pages of it went by the wayside, none of it occurred. “Tokoti njamba” and that was it. We left determined to continue the discussion on Monday.
There’s nothing easy about this, that’s for sure, but the four Congolese at the table underscored how unusual it is to have these kinds of discussions with NGOs. I felt this to be the most encouraging statement of the day.
Later, Masani and Mihigo came to visit. It was great to see them in a different setting than as Scholars in the GBA program at UPC. We talked about their love lives, their current job prospects, I asked their opinion about the shift in focus from university to primary / secondary school students…I felt a collegiality with them that I had not felt when our relationship was more formal at the university.
Dr. Bill Clemmer and his wife Ann, joined us for supper. Yet another highlight given their long experience in the DRC. I think we cannot underestimate how important it is to meet people who have been here for years and remain hopeful, sane, and committed.