“We cannot walk on ground that is not our own.” Francis Magige

It’s 9 am. Chelsea and I stomp the dirt off our feet gathered during the 30 minute walk from Nuru House to the Regional Training Center (RTC). Already the RTC is buzzing with the activity of Nuru Kenyans going about their work.  Broad warm smiles, enlightened eyes and hand after hand reach out to greet us “Umbuyo wadi!” “Umbuyo wadi!: “Good morning!”  “Good morning!” We pause to enjoy the lengthy welcomes and greetings customary of the Kurian people.

Next, we make our way to the four cornered concrete room, still under construction, but operating just fine as our temporary training space.  Here we receive the biggest thrill of our morning – the sight of the Nuru Training Team huddled together.  They are vigorously working out some left over curriculum piece from the previous day – without us!  So focused are they on their work, our arrival is graced only with a nod and a mutter.  This is highly unusual for the Kurians who are very generous with their greetings.  Chelsea and I smile knowingly at each other, take our seats at the opposite end of the room, and set to work on different matters. An hour later, task complete, the Training Team finally takes note of us.  A huge round of laughter ensues as they realize what has transpired and generously bestow on us the morning’s welcomes!

This is only one example of how completely the Nuru Training Team has taken ownership of the Leadership Program. They show up an hour early each day.  When we show up the room has been thoroughly swept of the prior day’s dirt tracks, materials for lessons are neatly laid out, and big warm smiles and handshakes welcome us to the new day of practice and training.

For the first two months, Chelsea and I worked to foster a collaborative peer environment with our Training Team. Our desire was to partner with them to test, revise and teach the Leadership Training Curriculum. To do this we have utilized the following approach which has proven to be highly valuable.

First, we use the Training Team itself as a pilot group for the curriculum before taking it to a wider audience. Chelsea or I teach a specific module that was produced by our team of writers in the States. Next, we listen to the Training Team’s feedback on the content and structure of the module that was taught. They share with us what worked well and what did not.  The parts that did not work are turned over to the Training Team to revise or rewrite themselves.  Revision can take many forms including the creation of a new story to take the place of one that did not work, generating an entirely different exercise or making simple changes to the flow or language used to convey the information in the module.  Through their ownership of revision, the Training Team infuses their deep understanding of the community into the curriculum – making the information relevant and easy for people to connect to. As Francis Magage so wisely put, after suggesting a particularly difficult story be thrown out, “We cannot walk on ground that is not our own.”  Many important changes to the curriculum have been made which would have otherwise proved futile if trained in a larger, more official setting.

Once revisions are finished, we work together as a team to prepare them to train the module to us. Our goal was to empower the Training Team to deliver the first round of Leadership Training themselves.  Their first big test came a few weeks ago when Nuru’s Stateside Staff – Karina Sobieski, Kim Do, and Billy Williams – dropped in on a training on Nuru’s Scaling Strategy. The Training Team were particularly proud that their first audience were the international  Nuru staff and that it was such as success!

Now we are pleased to share that the Training Team will have their second, and in some ways more important piloting experience – on Monday they will begin a week long training for the four Education Field Managers in the first round of Nuru’s basic leadership training.  They will assume about 95% of the training responsibilities, with Chelsea and I making only minor contributions.