This week we had our “Mid-Service Conference” – which was mostly meant to be a discussion on monitoring and evaluation – and our new reporting processes (someday they will get it all figured out..). Normally, I wouldn't be super thrilled about a week of “Monitoring and Evaluation” discussions – but we got to go to my favorite place ever!!! Grand Popo.
No Lion Bar for me this week :( We stayed at a fancier place on the other side of the Island called Bel Azur. Very fancy fancy. Air conditioning, WIFI (that didn't really work), one of the cleanest pools in Benin, and the rooms we stayed in were all beach front!! facing the ocean!!!
When I wasn't spending my lunch breaks basking in the sun, breathing in the salt air, and getting sand in my hair (three of my top favorite past times) I actually learned quite a bit this week! (and yes I was spending those lunch breaks on the beach – I was sick and couldn't eat the glorious 3 meals a day we were being fed for free :( – such is life).
I honestly think that this was the best Peace Corps held workshop that I have been too. The purpose was to discuss monitoring and evaluation and the new reporting system. Due to the government shutdown, the new reporting system has not yet arrived here in Benin to be discussed. The workshop was already set up and paid for – so we used the time focus in on monitoring and evaluation procedures, we were able to have really great sector discussions on old and new reporting indicators.. and we did some hands on tool building exercises to help with future monitoring. On the final day we did an activity called “Open Space” – which allowed us to speak with our administration and program managers, and to each other about LITERALLY any issues we thought should be brought up in a bigger group. Everything from specific project issues, to working with admin, to increasing work partner accountability. I think everyone got a lot out of the open space, it was useful to hear each others stories and some great ideas came out of the session. I think that Peace Corps should hold more of their workshops the way the one this week was held.
After leaving the beach and heading home – I am now back in Cotonou.
A little sick, but I will be better soon. If I am going to be sick at least I got a chance to spend some time at the beach first :) -- so if this post is a little rambling I blame it on the fact that I am sick.
Can't wait for vacation.