so where to start from?
I should not start from the very beginning I think - with most of the students arriving at 1 pm when the sessions was supposed to start (as if I had not mentioned that we would need at least 15 minutes to brainstorm before the call), while at the same time the organisers of the session send a last-minute email suggesting to have the students asking questions to Prof. Griffiths, since this was now intended to be a real session like the ones recorded with students in Europe or US.
but it obviously was our day, and Prof Griffits had 10 minutes delay (the fault of public transports in Leiden!) and that enabled us to put together a nice set of questions which could also prompt a debate around interesting themes... like the ICC as a tool to improve governance, or the difference between the Chinese model and the Western model of development (discussed the other day with the help of Dambisa Moyo), or tribalism and how this affects trust and institutional quality...
so by the time Griffiths ("call me Richard please") reached, we were all set up and also in a very good mood, because I also had the time to explain what a positive attitude means, why taking the risk to waste such a nice opportunity - of meeting with people there in Leiden and show them that we can discuss together interesting topics and have an opinion that could actually add to their understanding or knowledge of the same...
that feeling of confidence (or pride) and enjoyment coming from knowing things and being able to discuss them, that was what made the session theirs. sure, much to be learnt (for them and especially for me!), literally a lesson given by him, but they really did a good job - all attentive, listening carefully, taking notes (including myself on the board) and sensibly trying finding the right time to intervene, through sharing their views or asking more questions.
what at the beginning was scheduled as "a 30 minutes session with 4-5 students" became in fact an interactive lecture and discussion of 1 hour and 30 minutes, all the class present.
you tend to say I am doing a good job, and I believe you are objective, but sometime feel (gratefully) that your assessment is perhaps more an encouragement.
Richard started and ended the call by praising the work I do with the students - in his words, the first attempt of this kind in this context. he says that the intention of the module was indeed to enable this same process ie flipping the classrooms and having students learning through multiple tools, and to his knowledge we are the first successful experiment. he had seen the demo of the materials I prepare which I sent to him, and was extremely appreciative. now I see how and why this may seem impressive and the more I reflect the more I believe it.
we spent the last half hour discussing Richard's idea (not ours! but the two can fit well together). Richard asked us to develop materials for a new module to be launched in Feb 2015, which requires to prepare a set of case-studies about local organisations that are achieving goals in an effective, exemplary way in the development field. case studies to document also through video interviews and (I suggest) storytelling. the main aim is to give a positive insight into the good initiatives that are present and developing here and in the region - a very positive view of the continent. and among other things, there is the possibility to create forums for discussions with students and staff in Leiden, regularly.
what do the students think? valued and empowered, hence excited. and though it is not going to be an easy task (starting from building attitude in them) well this is a good start.
one last thing - guess which organisation we are going to interview first?