Monday, July 25, 2016

Wrapping up the project

The project was a success, despite hitting a bump or two in the road. The deliverables evolved over time into smaller, more manageable works that can be fully realized within the next year, as Perú Champs is able to hire a full-time teacher. We were able to develop an examination process, to be accompanied by an English–leveling program, that will be catered to the individual needs of each High-Potential Champ. The Champs will be included in a pilot program for SAT/TOEFL preparation at the Fulbright center here in Lima next year, and take part in their ongoing leadership speaker series. We were able to determine what resources would be required from Perú Champs with respect to a full-time English teacher, as well as what could be expected from the Champs regarding their ability to learn English well enough to get into a University in the U.S. or Europe.

Our bumps along the way felt big at the time, but were much smaller in retrospect. They only required redirection and compromise. A client should never be thought of as over-bearing or too demanding; only that they want the world for those they work with and are in need of a trusty advisor, with the right set of skills to be leveraged, to work as a partner in achieving their goals. There was unfortunately a skills mismatch in our inability to build an English curriculum for Perú Champs, which was regrettable. I felt as though we let them down on this front, as we reoriented the deliverable in the direction they were trying to avoid: having to hire someone to teach the Champs full time, as opposed to finding a volunteer or locating a corporate partner that would be willing to cover the annual cost of a teacher.

Unexpectedly, we were able to put our heads together to create several solutions that will undoubtedly increase Perú Champs international exposure, particularly in the U.S. Their website has improved significantly since our discussions about its layout, and ground has been broken to make it more user-friendly. I evolved over the course of the 7 weeks into the official Perú Champs English Editor, which included a mountain of mini-tasks like rewriting much of the language for the website, proofreading emails to the Embassy and translating incoming English documents for the team. I have agreed to do similar work for the team going forward. Many in the office already speak English well and write even better, they just care a lot about their reception, and are always grateful for the 2 or 3 words I change in an email they are about to send out.

I only recently began spending a lot of time with the team outside of work, and wish that I had done so earlier. My Spanish improves the most when I am sitting with all of them, making endless mistakes. They laugh at me and I laugh at myself. Alberto, our boss, always goes out with us, and somehow ends up the butt of every joke. I asked him about this as he drove me home one night, and he said that it was important for a boss to humble himself to earn his employee’s loyalty. He never sees himself as above them, and goes out of his way to counterbalance the manager/subordinate relationship. He’s a transformational leader in the truest sense.

I only have one more day with the team. We will be giving the Champs the English-leveling exam early next week, and I have agreed to administer it. It will be only the 3rd time that I’ve met the Champs, but still I know they will leave their mark. The last two times provided the inspiration that I needed to continue through hard times with the project. I’m sure this last will be the most difficult though, because I’ll need to say goodbye to them. I’ll still have two more weeks to hang out with the Perú Champs team though and will make the most of it.

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