Today was a VERY long day (also, apologies in advance that I have very few pictures from today, so I’ll attempt to be somewhat entertaining to make up for it). Since this is the last work day before the after-school and overnight programs start back up next week, we had a staff meeting/team building day. Thank goodness my Spanish has gotten a lot better since I’ve been here… I at least understood most of what was happening. The day would have felt MUCH longer had I been completely lost.

The first item on the agenda was mostly concerned with logistics. Irma first talked about how important each part of the team is and how everyone’s skills complement each other so that the team as a whole can be successful. She also went through the specifics of what people’s roles and responsibilities will be once the programs begin. I was interested in all of the details because I’m excited to see how everything comes together next week, and it will be good to have some background knowledge to help with the learning curve.

Part two of the morning of meetings was a workplace safety presentation by some “safety expert” guy. It was just about what you would expect from a workplace safety presentation… mostly boring and unrealistic. The guy had an unfortunate habit of asking questions and then calling on random people in the group to answer them, so I put most of my effort into taking fake notes and avoiding eye contact. I’m sure that my notes will serve me well in the future. Here is an excerpt so that you also can learn about workplace safety:

I’m terrified he’s going to call on me.

OMG he just made intense eye contact and said something to me, but I don’t think it required a response. 

I just gave him the most wide-eyed look. Calm down, Lara!

No more eye contact.

I think I also need to write something every once in a while to make it look like I’m engaged.

Maybe I should keep some chips close and shove them into my mouth when he asks a question.

Now he’s talking about controlling your environment to minimize risks, and honestly, it’s a little crazy.

He said there’s a chance the ceiling fan will fall, so you can walk around it rather than under it to be safe 😑

He has to be kidding.

This is ridiculous.

Yeah… you get the picture. My worst nightmare came true with only about 10 minutes left in the presentation: he asked me a question. I was a disaster. Honestly, it’s a bit embarrassing in hindsight. I had a mild freak out and then started sweating even more (I was already sweating because it was at least 5000 degrees in that room) and blushing. The worst part? I knew the answer to his question, but my brain and body were too busy calculating how quickly I could escape from the room to realize it. Smooth, Lara.

Thankfully, he left after the presentation, and I never have to see him again. Everyone else… well, I do have to see them, but they’ve mostly accepted that I can understand them but am mostly a mute except in special circumstances when I awe them with my mastery of the language by saying things like, “Good morning” and “do you know where the extra AA batteries are?”

Crushing the water aerobics game

Tony and Jim wrapped up the morning by talking a bit about the vision and mission of the ministry, and then we were off to the pool for lunch and team building! Through this activity planning process, I’ve realized that I have some serious anxiety when it comes to planning events (this is unrelated to my horrible decision making skills that I talked about yesterday). When I’m responsible for something, I worry that it’s going to go horribly and that everyone is going to have a miserable time and blame me. It’s not the blaming me part that bothers me. It’s the everyone having a miserable time because of me part. I feel like it’s my responsibility to make sure everyone is okay and enjoying themselves. Yes, I know it’s over-the-top and ridiculous, but regardless, that’s the way I am. Something to work on! Anyway, that was how I felt about the team building activities. Yes, Tony had a hand in the planning, but I’m the one that came up with all of the potential ideas. She just picked from those.
We started off with some water aerobics moves to get everyone comfortable, and people slowly moved from being latched onto the wall to being about 2 inches away, so that’s getting counted as a success.

Next, we attempted to make a whirlpool, but everyone was moving too slowly and bumping into each other and failing, to an impressive degree, to stay on path. You know what though? Everyone was also laughing the entire time, so we can check that off as a team building success.

Our small group was pretty amazing at human knot detangling

The third activity was the human knot… in the pool. For those of you who haven’t done it, your group gets into a circle, and everyone crosses their arms and grabs hands with two different people from across the circle. Then, you attempt to untangle yourselves, a process that always includes some acrobatics and close-proximity awkwardness with your teammates. That also went well! It was funny doing it in the pool, and after doing it successfully in small groups, we combined into one big group that got hopelessly tangled. Again though… bonding, communication, and teamwork were the goals, not successful untangling. I get to be the success judge today, so yeah, activity three also gets a gold star.

Our big group, on the other hand, was probably just way too many people. It was still fun though!

Finally, we split into two groups and each made a synchronized swimming routine. My group was beyond dysfunctional… I partly blame my language barrier, but I think we would have been a mess either way. We mostly just moved around, unsynchronized, during our “routine” and laughed because no one knew what to do. The other group managed to pull something together that was quite nice.
Afterwards, we had free time to play around and hang out before heading home. It was a full day, but I am so happy with how everything went and how comfortable everyone seemed in the pool by the time we were finished. Even if they didn’t actually feel comfortable, they all embraced the spirit of team building and pushed themselves. Solid efforts from everyone!

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