The Ideal Orientation

I just co-ran a medium-sized national service Orientation today.  Objectively, I think it went well.  It did what it needed to do and ended, all in one pleasant day.

Our goals were to convey a whole lot of information, get some paperwork done, set the tone for the year, and foster community.  And we definitely accomplished those things.  Subjectively, however, I’m not totally satisfied with it.  I just think we could have done them all more effectively with more time, and that an orientation to this kind of job should be more than a day long.

I feel like national service isn’t just a job; it’s a really special, intentional way to spend a year.  It frustrates me to not give people more time to ask questions, engage in meaningful dialog with each other, and get to know the program in a more leisurely way.  My ideal Orientation would not be just an introduction to their year; it would be the beginning of it.

Michele Martin summed it up for me when she wrote just yesterday:

Training shouldn’t be an event, but a process.

Yes.  Process.  Exactly.  It’s the difference between planting seeds and nurturing them.

In Emily’s ideal world, a training would be a greenhouse.

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One thought on “The Ideal Orientation

  1. Emily, I completely relate to your frustrations and your desire to make Orientation a more organic part of the year with time for conversations to evolve. I wonder if for the next time around you could get all the informational stuff out of the way using social media–maybe set up a wiki with all of the paperwork, etc. and have people review and complete their paperwork ahead of time. Then you could use the time together for more of the conversations, etc. That’s something I’m trying to do more when I have these kinds of activities going on as it seems like a waste to me to spend valuable “together time” on things like paperwork if there’s some other way we can do it. Doesn’t always work perfectly, but it might be worth a try.

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