Monday, February 4, 2013
A local perspective adds more than just color
It's been a few weeks here now in Thailand for me. A "back to school" residential course with 'change the world' big aspirations. An altruistic social enterprise of sorts with plenty of money being spent on me and others of my kind from around the world, rather lavishly.
I did the primer in September last year but that was a small crowd maybe around two dozen. This time around, its much bigger, probably 100 or more, of many different nationalities and more women too.
Folks from the western world - Americans, Britishers and Canadians (again) as teachers & trainers and folks from Asia mostly as the trainees - Chinese, Cambodians, Indians, Pakistanis, Sri Lankans, Filipinos, Indonesians, Malaysians, many Thais of course with also a few from Fiji, Mongolia, New Zealand, Burma, Vietnam, Taiwan and Brunei. I don't know the rest - didn't I tell you it's a big crowd .
Considering our sponsors are really so considerate of our needs - what with the first class accommodations, air conditioned travel and multicuisine buffet selections everyday, I really don't get it how our western trainers can give or add any meaningful Asian or local perspective to this training exercise. I don't mean to be racist but many of our trainers seem to lack local knowledge or asian experience - almost all of them on their first visit to Thailand or for that reason, any other Asian country too.
I have to admit they have taught me brand new techniques and I have gained some great insights. I also agree they are indeed experts with extremely rich credentials and prestigious affiliations but without the local touch, it doesn't really add up much - a mission and vision statement isn't enough - at least the way it was originally intended to.
In the last one week of classes I have attended, there have been many instances of this lost opportunity and as someone chosen to head this new collective of global change makers, I am dismayed at the selections our sponsors have made. A few more local experts would have added a whole new perspective to this gathering - at its least, more depth, better insights and it would have costed cheaper too.
I will probably get a lot of flak for posting this and I am sure to annoy my sponsors, my mentor, many of my co-participants and perhaps most unfortunately my esteemed trainers who I otherwise have the highest regard.
But as someone who has always believed in speaking your mind, this seems the right thing to do - anything less would have been hypocritical!