Two Ears and One Mouth

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I have a riddle for you: What is the shortest word in the English language that contains the letters: abcdef?

The answer: feedback.

During the last couple of weeks, we have started evaluating our program.

In March, every girl completed baseline testing and now we are repeating the same measurement to evaluate the change over the course of the year. We’ll look at quantitative and qualitative data to measure the growth of the girls as a result of the Chicas Dinámicas program and to help improve our program for next year.

All the girls do physical testing. We count how many pushups and sit ups they can do in a minute, time how fast they can run 50 m and 1 km, and a few other fitness indicators. We originally planned to make it an Olympic competition because we were worried the girls may not be as into the exercises as they normally are with all of the games. Yet, to our pleasant surprise they did not care about competing against one another. They were more excited to cheer one another on and see if they could beat their number or time from March. One school even ran the 1 km twice because we accidently used the wrong cancha the first time! The next class they thought they needed to run 12 laps again because they assumed that was the new warmup. While they would have done it, they were extremely happy to learn that they only had to run the regular three.

We also interview some of our students, parents, and school administrators. I am really enjoying these interviews because they allow us to learn about the impact of our program and what draws girls to class each day. The parents, teachers, and chicas all provide different perspectives on the program and what they find most valuable. One of the most significant questions we ask during the interview is: what we can do to improve as teachers and as a program in general? Everyone with whom we spoke thus far has provided us with great recommendations or other ideas to improve GSW and spread awareness about our program around Cusco.

Learning how we can improve is a critical part of being successful

Many of us are afraid of feedback and shy away from constructive criticism (I am also definitely at fault for this). We get scared that receiving feedback is admitting defeat. We assume that we must have done something wrong if we need to change. However, these interviews me about the importance of viewing and receiving feedback in a positive light. Everyone is trying to help make our program as successful as possible. Their child may even be graduating from the program at the end of December, but they want to ensure the continued progress and success for future Chicas Dinámicas. It is critical to listen to the people living in the community and find out what is most important to them to make the biggest impact in the community. And in the words of Mark Twain, “If we were supposed to talk more than we listen we would have two mouths and one ear”

Throughout this end-of-year testing, I have also begun reflecting on and evaluating on my past year. It still amazes me that just last spring, I was in school, studying and juggling all my different commitments, and now I am in Cusco working for such an amazing organization to help make lasting community change. I encourage everyone to take time over the next month to reflect on 2017, both the highs and lows, and challenge yourself to find areas to improve for the upcoming year.


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