In May of this year, twenty-three colleagues from East Africa and around the globe came together in Mto Wa Mbu, Tanzania, for the the 2015 ICA East Africa Conference. The gathering was organized by ICA-USA and ICA-Tanzania.
In 2011, ICA-USA staffvisited several East African ICA's and discussed what they thought the most crucial items to building their capacity were. Methods training for newer staff, and increased connections among ICA's were high on the list. Thus the idea for the conference was born.
Although a gathering like this is not new in ICA's longer term history, in more recent history, the practice of gathering has been overlooked due to limited capacity and time of ICA's to come together to share.
The gathering was five days long, and saw colleagues from Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Togo, Canada, Guatemala, and the US. There were two main components to the conference design;training and skill sharing, and strategic planning for the region.
Some notable mentions from the gathering:
- The use of open space to plan the trainings/workshop components of the conference allowed for both enough flexibility and enough structure
- There was an energizer before any new presenter, this kept the group alive and gave participants plenty new things to add to their energizer toolkit.
- End of the day and beginning of the day reflections were led by someone new each time.
- The conference was funded by late ICA-USA donor Ruth Reames, and from a mini grant from ICAI.
- During the strategic planning session for the region, it was helpful to have facilitators from outside the region, so that all local parties could participate
- There was a lot of requests to get clarity on what values all ICA's share. Event facilitators shared a 4x4 Introduction to the Organizational Wisdom of the ICA handbook created by colleague Terry Bergdall to start the conversation. More specifically, the row of 'What ICA thinks' column of the document. The conversation was a powerful one that could have continued a long time and conference attendees wanted to schedule more time in the future to be able to continue the dialogue.
- The conference ended with a celebratory evening, including local dancers, and an exercise where everyone pulled a name of someone else and had to say something they had come to learn and enjoy about them in the past week.
- A WhatsApp group has since been established for the region, to enable participants and others to share reflections and photos and to stay in touch and to facilitate peer-to-peer support and collaboration.
To learn more about and read the East African Conference report, click here.