As a volunteer to train for this initiative, I had great experience Before, During and After the event.
First of all, it was very challenging to put the training content together. Besides day to day work, I had to set aside significant amount of time to understand the objectives of the training, to find out about the needs of the audience in Kenya and most importantly to develop the content that best meets the objectives and the needs for the majority. While I put the content together for the sessions such as, ensuring research quality, translating clients’ objectives to discussion guides or analyzing data to tell impactful stories, I felt quite challenged as there was so much to share but not available in an organized format and there was little time to deliver the key messages. Hence organizing my knowledge, distilling key themes and messages, tailoring them to the audience and meeting the time requirements were quite challenging. However, as much as it was a challenge, it was a rewarding exercise too. I experienced good recall of my knowledge from many years ago which motivated me to use them again in my day to day work with my own organization. I ended up with well organized training modules which I can reuse given the contents are timeless and will always be of value. And importantly, I better understood some of the concepts I thought I knew well before. Aristotle said “Those who know, do. Those who understand, teach”. This is so true.
During the event, I met great people, heard great content from other trainers and also from the participants. Engagement with the participants during breaks and during the sessions was invaluable. We had so much information exchange. I learned about the challenges of doing research in Kenya as well as in other parts of Africa from multiple perspectives (both from clients’ and from suppliers’), I learned about the challenges of young researchers as well as of experienced ones. I met great people dedicated to doing high quality jobs, seeking wisdom. Some of the questions I got were very inspiring, making it so clear why we need to take part in such events and help each other with our diverse experiences across different industries, different experience levels and different geographies. I also felt that, by networking, sharing these experiences, knowledge and ideas, there was better understanding of client and supplier perspectives, which I believe lead to healthier relationships, deeper dialogues and eventually to better quality work on both sides. After all “sharing is caring” and we need to care for each other as members of one big researchers’ society.
Finally, after the event, I left with great memories and having made many new good friends. My memories of Nairobi as a great city and its great people were enhanced. I had great bonding time with other trainers and feel quite confident that I have more resources around me if I need to tap into their experiences in future. The whole MSRA team made my experience unforgettable. I now have a different level of standard for what a great event looks like. I had many returns from the participants and organizers which enable a great sense of accomplishment. So I encourage you all to try and volunteer because “every accomplishment starts with the decision to try”.