Emerging Pacific Leaders' Dialogue 2006
Summary of Evaluation
The report was based on an analysis of the Evaluation Forms as completed by 91 of the 120 participants (76% response). In addition 75 'Future Directions' sheets were completed whereby participants outlined how they would utilize their EPLD learning.
The responses were fairly representative of the 120 participants, with the same average age of 35.
Participants from the union backgrounds are under-represented in responses while those in business are slightly over represented. The return rate for Group Leaders (6/10) and Liaison Officers (3/10) was lower. This may reflect the extra duties these roles incurred and that collection of forms coincided with travel departures and other arrangements such as continuing study tour communication.
2 Further Analysis
A more detailed analysis is occurring on organizational aspects (e.g. food comments, study tour programme balance) to test for any are significant variations in responses when factors such as country of origin, sector background, age/experience, gender, and study tour destination are considered. This further detail will be available to CSC organizers for future planning purposes. At this stage there does not appear to be significant differences due to these factors.
The information analysis does provide a snapshot of the EPLD that can be updated at intervals to map the translation of personal impact in the context participants returned to - both at the personal and wider community level - as part of an assessment of the impact of the EPLD over time.
3 The Opening Plenary in Brisbane
Respondents gave the 'Organization of the Opening Plenary' an average rating of 4.46 on a 5-point scale. 58% selected 'Exceeded Expectations' (5) and 33% selected 'Often Exceeded Expectations' (4).
The Opening Plenary content was generally regarded as forming a strong base for the study tour stage of EPLD.
All speakers received a mention as a highlight. Many participants found the range of speakers really helped to expand their views about the Pacific - and opened their minds to the differences and similarities between the various countries and peoples. Some participants particularly connected with speakers from their own or similar countries, from related fields or with issues of personal interest and beliefs. The range of issues and personal insights arising from the various speakers' own experiences were particularly appreciated.
Many participants particularly noted the input from Sir William Deane as the Plenary Chair.
The identification of a need for a global ethic and the inclusion of a spiritual dimension through the Keynote address by Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Ta'isi Efi resonated strongly across all 'groupings'.
The vital importance of ensuring that cultural protocols and acknowledgements were part of the framework and process for EPLD can be seen in a range of comments.
Meeting other participants, having the opportunity to interact with the diverse speakers and having time to think and learn, were aspects identified by many. Others wanted more time for these aspects, however. Group discussion time was particularly valued by many with a significant number wanting more set time to interact with other participants and time to get to know their Study Tour Group and others from their country of origin.
Constructive ideas for organisation improvement included having more time for questions and discussion and more time to reflect before moving to the next topic/speaker. Several participants noted that the majority of speakers were male and a few considered that there were viewpoints on issues that could have been presented either through more panel debate or a wider spectrum of views. These comments account for the lower rating average for Format (3.53) compared to other aspects.
The orientation for Study Tour Leaders and Liaison Officers was useful and several people commented on the leadership component run by Lyn Russell. The leadership component was an innovation for CSC gatherings and appreciated by some for the content and others for the interaction opportunity involved.
4 The Study Tours
While there was variation in specific detail, ratings were consistently high and comments enthusiastic and reflective. Table 3 shows that all aspects averaged more than 4 on a 5-point scale.
The impact of the Study Tours - both in terms of content and in terms of group bonding and the enduring friendships formed, is very evident in the comments. Some participants made explicit comment on the dynamics of their study tour group - especially in terms of learning to work with others to produce a consensus report about the observations under considerable time pressure:
Constructive suggestions included wanting more time - even a half day free - to reflect on the study tour and catch up on sleep before the intensity of preparation for the Closing Plenary and several requests to avoid shared rooms during part of some study tours (snoring featured).
A number of favourable comments were made about the role played by their Study Tour Group Leader and Liaison Officer in ensuring the group worked together and the reporting process was achieved.
5 The Closing Plenary in Auckland
Table 4 shows the ratings average selected using a 5-point scale. Overall, the programme was viewed very positively.
The quality of input from HRH The Princess Royal and Sir Paul Reeves received extensive favorable comment:
The group presentations themselves were a major highlight and revealed the intensity of the study tour content, personal stretch and group work experience as well as showing a high degree of group ownership and the overall educational value of seeing and hearing the other group reports.
There was significant learning from seeing and hearing all the Study Tour Presentations, from the commentary and from the closing summation by Professor Bedford.
The process involved in developing their study tour group reports was also a learning experience and highlight for many participants and many commented on teamwork and communication aspects - both within their study tour group and from what they perceived of other groups.
Some would have preferred more time in their study group or with their country group or generally with other participants rather than the leadership workshops however, and having a free half-day, maybe with a picnic, was suggested.
Suggestions for improvement included:
"Having more former participants who have gone on to make a difference in society or personally because of this programme" (New Zealand)
"Maybe half a day more to recover from traveling and to complete presentations" (Study Tour Leader)
"Have EPLD in summer" (a number of people, including New Zealanders)
"More support in IT for developing presentations by team groups including time for rehearsal" (Australia)
6 Leadership Workshops
The leadership workshops at the Opening Plenary and in the Closing Plenary were a new development for CSC.
The workshops were considered useful by a range of participants. A number of comments indicate appreciation of time spent discussing differences between management and leadership, learning about different types and styles of leadership and the sense of empowerment they gained through acknowledgement that leadership has many forms.
Several participants suggested contextualising the leadership component more with the study tour experience.
"The leadership workshop had excellent content and was really interesting. However, I believe the participants would have gained more by reflecting on their recent experiences, both individually and as a group, and then drawing leadership lessons from that. This approach would also have provided the necessary debriefing of the EPLD and formed a necessary passage to transition back to the "real world" (Team Leader)
"More time for discussion in groups regarding leadership and application to participants leadership situation" (Solomon Islands)
7 General EPLD Highlights
Some participants made comments about the whole programme while others identified particular aspects. While there were some individual variations, country or origin, background, age, role and study tour destination did not appear to make a discernible difference to overall reflections. The following comments are indicative:
"Realising how much optimism exists, even in the most difficult situations" (Australia)
"I thought I knew a lot about the Pacific people but the EPLD has been an eye opener for me. This has made me know that our countries have the common challenges and vision for a better Oceania. People and the future, consideration of all challenges facing the South Pacific" (Papua New Guinea)
"The time to reflect upon my life, my family, my future and my country and to know just how lucky I am where I am and how I can make a change and change others around me" (Fiji)
"The excellent standard of the lecturers and speakers and the insights they have provided regarding the Pacific and leadership" (Australia)
"The unity amongst all Pacific members of the EPLD" (Papua New Guinea)
"Having to finally agree as a group on what messages we wanted to get across to the entire EPLD" (Fiji)
"EPLD has opened up a variety of opportunities, challenges, visions. A variety of different professions, cultural backgrounds, ethnic and social issues. The beauty lies in linking everything with my personal values and knowledge and reflecting it to the environment where I live and work and into my comfort zone" (Tonga)
"The humour, the lack of animosity, the people we got access to, our team learning to look past what we were seeing" (New Zealand)
Visiting (named), a place I hardly knew existed before. The connections and friendships developed working in study groups and wider EPLD. Meeting (study tour) local people. Gaining an insight into the issues faced by Pacific Island countries especially coming from NZ and previously only having experienced some Pacific countries as a tourist" (New Zealand)
"Meeting other emerging leaders and hearing their stories; developing friendships, the chance to try out some leadership skills with a team of people to achieve a shared goal (Australia)
"The interaction with other similar minds from around the Pacific. To see potential and to know that we are not alone. To be exposed to different visions and to be empowered by the energy of people who are driven to make a difference" (New Zealand)
The inclusion of participants from beyond the Commonwealth was explicitly supported by participants from those particular countries and many who went on the New Caledonia Study Tour. Guam and American Samoa were also mentioned.
The most common suggestions for organisation/content improvement involved a desire for more discussion and interactive time, including having an extra half-one day for the opening orientation, for the Study Tours and for report preparation, and for the closing. Commentators considered this would enable more time for reflection/processing given the concentrated programme. However, people also noted that the time commitment and travel meant some could be limited from attending if the format was much longer.
The distances some had to travel to get to and from EPLD together with the travel involved with the study tours meant some very tired people towards the EPLD close.
Some people had difficulties with obtaining visas in time or with temperature changes. This prompted some suggestions to help smooth procedures for 'next time'.
And there was the practical - from those with particular responsibility roles:
"Triple-check the administrative and travel arrangements! Involve Group Leaders and Liaison Officers earlier in the study tour arrangements; give participants more involvement in the cultural protocols of the countries in which the plenary sessions are to take place, particularly the participants who come from those countries" (Group Leader)
"Briefings for Liaison Officers - housekeeping updates too quick and brief. More explanations around what will happen upon arrival" (Liaison Officer)
10 Learning Shifts
Participants considered that there had been a very clear shift in their overall knowledge of Pacific issues (Table 5).
The one response that seems to be a different pattern actually isn't, given the comment - "I thought I knew more than I did - I found out I didn't".
The few people who selected the same before and after number were in work areas involving extensive contact with much of the region. Their responses to other parts of the evaluation do indicate areas of learning.
There was evidence of individual stretch in most of the comments and for those who had not previously travelled much in the region, considerable personal revelation about reality, resilience, struggle and hope that people in the study tour destinations exhibited. These experiences really seem to have inspired considerable determination to make an ongoing contribution for many, both in their own community/field/country and through the networks they have formed.
There are less than 85 lines in Table 5 as the graph type was chosen to illustrate learning movement rather than numbers clustering around each movement band.
Table 6 shows the clustering of responses with 83% of participants selecting a number combination showing a 50 to 70% increase in their Pacific knowledge. Both Table 5 and Table 6 should be read together.
11 Intentions Post EPLD
Participants were overwhelmingly positive in response to the question "What will you take with you from this experience into your Future Career?"
The relationships; the networks; shared personal experiences and reflections; the people interaction; the importance of economy/society/environment; the importance of embracing humanity and those most vulnerable; the knowledge and awareness of issues confronting near neighbours; an affinity for the Pacific, its peoples and cultures; a better understanding of the strengths of Pacific peoples; values and insights that can be integrated into leadership practices; building valuable networks with other participants; lessons in achieving objectives through team-work; awareness of individual capacity and ability to make a contribution; people coming together to thrash out and analyse regional problems; the need to listen to the quiet people; and a much broader view as to the issues associated with economic advance.
12 Advancing Leadership Development
Seventy-five participants completed the optional flyer, which asked "How are you going to use the EPLD experience to progress leadership development in your country?"
While many responses were tailored to the participants' individual and country specifics, there were evident commonalities such as an understanding that leadership begins with the individual self and connects through family, work and community to country, region and global.
The importance of personal action was often mixed with an evident sense of responsibility to extend access to particular resources or be part of developing particular programmes.
The strength of the connections made during EPLD and how that can be built on for the future (and connecting with past CSC alumni) was perceived as an important base for future activity over time.
Many comments were made in support of having future EPLDs and a significant number wanted to be involved in helping ensure these happened.
If a portion of what people said in early July, about their intentions, actually occurs, then EPLD will have made a difference, both at the personal level and in the context participants returned to.
There are already examples of specific initiatives having occurred by September such as a new Teacher Exchange connecting a study tour destination country with the participant's country. Internet traffic is keeping EPLD participants connected - within their country groups, with their Study Tour Groups, and via networks established during the conference on particular issues such as sexual health.
Where to from here? A question posed for EPLD participants by organisers, in Auckland, was spurring debate within these networks and with past CSC alumni, as people looked to this meeting in Fiji.
The CSC, and the EPLD as a regional CSC, is partly about content and networks and partly about personal growth, rising to challenges and balancing these into the future. In the words of a participant, there is something powerful about the mix -
"The feeling of having traveled a journey (which was both hard emotionally, mentally, physically, enjoyable) and being able to share the experience with others" (Samoa)
In general, the comments reveal that many participants have had their minds widened by what they themselves experienced and through what they heard. They have lived and breathed diversity in a very intense way and learnt the importance of people, and of the self and of the group, in relation to themes, challenges, hope for the future and their potential role in being part of building that future.
"The true value of EPLD will only be realised if we can use it to build more connections in the future" (Australia)
"This was an amazing, enriching and inspiring programme - thank you so much - I feel blessed to have been part of it and will now work towards earning it" (Samoa)
"The EPLD provided confirmation that the success of development in the Pacific lies squarely in the hands of the Pacific countries - small and large - together" (Study Tour Leader)
It is clear from the responses that the vision that inspired the EPLD and combined effort of organizers, speakers, sponsors and helpers involved with the EPLD, that there has been a highly successful event. The participants clearly show this through their comments and rankings.
The base is clearly laid - there is evident impact - the full impact will unfold with time.