Sunday, January 26, 2014

Growth in self-efficacy as a multicultural team of professors

The summer of 2013 Christian Camping International, Latin America (CCI/LA) held a training event in Pittsburgh called: Leadership Summit, a two-week long event designed to share the results of a 30-year partnership between CCI/LA and Pittsburgh churches support of Lisa Anderson-Umana. 

One of my favorite words that I learned at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS) is: self-efficacy (definition a la Wikipedia: Self-efficacy is the measure of the belief in one's own ability to complete tasks and reach goals.)

As the days went by, I noticed a growth in individuals’ self-efficacy that in turn led to growth in group-efficacy. As Christians we are aware of the fine line of “thinking too highly of ourselves” and pride so often in order not to get too close to the line, we err on the side of caution and “think too little about ourselves.” As I studied at school, I realized that I needed to be aware of my own thoughts, feelings, and reactions in order to invite the Lord to critically reflect on my inner world much like David did in Psalm 139:23-24: Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
So, when I heard our team members make comments like the following, I knew that one of the goals of this trip was being reached:
Manuel:  “Professor Jim couldn’t hear me speak in class, hmm, I wonder why I am not speaking up? Hmm, I prayed and realized I was intimidated because of my lack of schooling; well, God gave me the confidence to speak up and participate.”
Karina:  “Since I am new to the team, I was afraid I would fail and not fit into the community they had already formed. I took my fears to the Lord and as the days went on I realized I fit, my space and pace is respected.”

When the bus broke down, the team was extremely calm and
took things in stride. Chuck and Henri Doren were on top
of everything, getting the Crawford family to come rescue us!

We celebrated Thanksgiving in July, an idea Chuck and Henri Doren
blessing many who had never experienced this US event. 

Travel in the USA is a delight since you don't have to worry about donkeys crossing the roads (deer yes!),
there are excellent signs, visual lines on the roads, the rest stops which my kids still can't believe are built just for bathrooms! Bathroom stops in most of Latin America are unheard of!

Robert has a strong presence in public speaking and
is our "go-to-guy" for opening and closing comments. 

My own growth in self-awareness was tested during the Pittsburgh Leadership Summit:
“I (Lisa) felt the tension rise within me when, prior to the arrival of the Latin Americans, we were experiencing some major changes in our plans. When I confessed my struggle with control with a friend, she told me that God knew what was going on but was testing my character. I suddenly realized it wasn’t about everything going according to my plans, but about my reaction. I felt like God told me right then and there: ‘Trust me. Entrust this whole Summit to me, loosen your control and you will see the great things I will do in people’s lives.’
Throughout the two weeks, I did indeed see God doing great things. I wrote in my journal: ‘I feel so full I could burst. In each person God you are opening up new horizons and broadening perspectives.  I see with my own eyes and hear with my own ears the dreams (literally) you have given to Manuel, Alvaro and Carlos, and how they stay up late at night in the men’s cabin discussing their meaning. We even fasted and prayed during one meal for further discernment. These are holy moments we are living.”

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Insights & Impressions from Latin Americans on US History & Pittsburgh

When the Latin American team was in Pittsburgh last summer, we visited for an entire afternoon the Heinz museum in Pittsburgh and here are their impressions and insights:
Pittsburgh today

Robert Bruneau, Panama
Pittsburgh a century ago
They cherish their US history and culture and don't stain it or change it according to the political party in power. Plus this city had amazing innovation and patents by many common people, like the factory worker who invented a movable bed for his sick wife that eventually became the standard for hospitals!

Evelyn Umana, El Salvador
I didn't know that the discoverer of the polio vaccine was from Pittsburgh, Mr. Saulk, as a pharmacist, I have always had great respect for him.
I always wondered in those old movies why they called a refrigerator an “ice box” and now I realize that indeed prior to refrigerators, indeed, they would cut out blocks of ice from the rivers in the winter and put them in a box!

Rixy Leiva, El Salvador
As I walk through the museum, I find myself asking how has Pittsburgh shaped who Lisa is? 
It seems you can’t live here without loving the Steelers, and Lisa is most intense about the Steelers. Maybe Lisa got some of her inventiveness from this city too.

Gloria Martinez, Mexico
Both Duglas and I were impacted by slavery exhibition even the background music saddened me.  
Carlos Baca, Honduras
They kept artifacts and call them antiques that I recognize them from my childhood, hmm, that must make me an antique!!

Duglas Aguilar, Guatemala
As I walked with Lisa through the section on the Steelers Championship teams, I was amazed that she used to remember numbers according to the jersey number the players had: If she needed to remember number 59, she’s think of Jack Ham, number 59 Jack Ham, number 12 Terry Bradshaw, etc.. Wow, she sure knew all the players from 1970s!

Alfredo Umana, Honduras
I know Lisa has a strong sense of belonging and Pittsburghers have a strong pride in their city and this has, no doubt, given her a strong platform and base of support to launch from.

Alvaro Cordero, Bolivia
Bob Sabean (a passionate lover of early US history) gave us insight into the religious nature of the seven year-war between Britain, France, and the Indians prior to the American Revolution. 
As I walked into the exhibit of the slavery I was so saddened man’s inhumanity to man, that is universal.  Even the rug you walked on had images of slaves. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

We teach WHO we are (Professor Jim Plueddemann)

Their eyes shined and smiles lite up their faces. Finally, after years of hearing about him, reading his articles, and striving to live out his philosophy of education, they were able to meet Dr. Jim Plueddemann face to face and sit for a week under his tutorage.

Alfredo served as his translator all week.

To the CCI/LA instructors Dr. Jim Plueddemann is a famous person.
So, all the emotions and excitement was evident on their faces as they interacted with him, observed him, took copious notes both on the content of what he taught but perhaps more importantly on HOW he taught. We teach WHO we are as much or more than what we teach and Jim did not disappoint us.

I watched our professors observe Jim and see with their own eyes his masterful way of teaching and I was filled with such joy to be able to share him with them. It is a gift of experiential understanding since I have described him for years, but now they understand from their own experience.
When they are back in their countries teaching, I pray the image of the gracious, kind, and humble way he accompanies his students and teaches them will come to mind to inspire and guide them.
Norma said: "His gracious manner of teaching made the hours fly by. He is noble, accessible, simply profound and personable. What I noticed was how enriched he is by others cultures such that he respected ours and did not attempt to impose his culture on us. I felt respected."
Jim would explain a complex idea like power distance (definition of power distance) and then invite the class to share personal examples related to this theory. But then Jim doesn’t just smile, nod his head and say: Thank you for sharing. He prompts us to critically reflect on our own experience and on God’s word by intently listening to us, then deepening the dialogue with questions like:

  • Why do you ask that question?
  • What problems are you facing related to your question? 
When Evelyn was asked how this time with Jim fortified her as a professor? She responded:  Just like I study the content, I will study the student. We all observed how well Jim knew us because he had studied our biographies and he took that into account as he taught us.
What do you remember about your favorite teacher doing in class that really impacted you?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

I am like your armor-bearer

Victor Hugo Martinez during the Pittsburgh
Leadership Summit
(July 2013) 
Victor Hugo put his hand on my shoulder, opened the Bible to I Sam. 14:7, and read “Do all that you have in mind,” his armor-bearer said. “Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.

Victor Hugo then leaned in and said with tears in his eyes: "I am like your armor-bearer. When you invited me onto the team two years ago, I resisted and came up with many excuses. But here I am today, in Pittsburgh, knit with you, ready to go to battle… and do the Lord’s work.”

Words cannot adequately describe what I felt at that moment. But much like Jonathan might have felt, so I too felt emboldened, given courage to advance with this process of transferring the responsibility of teaching future Institutes for Forming Instructors (IFI) into the hands of the professors.