Training Across Cultures: One “Slide” Does Not Fit All | Landon Petersen

I've been tasked with developing a training presentation for new Solar Sister Entrepreneurs. Going into it, I knew I would have to be creative in how I presented the information. I had been warned that slides full of text would be largely ineffective. Any text would need to be translated into Swahili.

Our first training session in Arusha, at BEST (Business and Entrepreneurship Support Tanzania) gave me confidence that the presentation was on the right track. The second training given in the village of Esilalei to a group of six Maasai men and 7 Maasai women was a near disaster. Most Maasai speak the Maasai language; not all of them speak Swahili. Literacy is scattered at best. Analogies about giving a fish versus teaching to fish would have been met with completely blank stares and needed to be changed on the fly to impalas and spears. Three quarters of the way through, the audience decided they were tired and no longer wanted to fill out a practice receipt or complete their Solar Sister application.

The third training was a failure—mostly because it didn't happen. We had been scheduled to meet with women of the Barabaig tribe on June 17, but of course we arrived there on June 18. After driving around and making calls we found one woman who could meet for training. She, however, refused to be trained because she didn't want to be the only woman in the village who knew this stuff and thus be inundated and overwhelmed with requests for help and demands to share her knowledge.

Needless to say, I'll be reworking the training to make it robust enough to meet the learning needs of all these diverse groups.