Wireless training at AMARC 9

A conference of the Association of Community Radio Producers AMARC is currently taking place in Amman. A small APC team is there and, besides other types of involvement, we are organizing a workshop on wireless networking, with the focuse on wireless networks usage by community radios.

Our team was small, but visible. As the AMARC 9 was kicked off, we prepared a training room in a side hall, used as a passage by waiters running from the kitchen to the restaurant on the first floor.

Soooo, the starting conditions were not that great, given that the room was a bit obscure and, what is worse, the main conference program was running alongside our training.

To let everyone know that we exist and they might think of skipping main program because of us, we applied a sort of partisan strategy… post advertising posters around the noble hotel Belle Vue, a strategy that proved efficient soon was picked up and copied by other workshop organizers.

The people who came made a very good group: smaller group than we expected, but very interested in the topic. The main learning from the workshop is that it is a real challenge to try to organize a dedicated focused workshop as part of a large event, because you can’t oblige people to be continually present for the whole time and leave with everything you were hoping for them to take home. However, the people who eventually do show up, are charged with ideas about how to link the skills from the training with their radio (or other) projects. More often than usual thus trainers become learners and trainees turn into trainers.

Yes, there was a fluctuation, some people stayed only first day and other joined in on the second or third day, complaining about having been elsewhere and having missed previous sessions. So one would say that there is not enough continuity and consistency in such training. On contrary. No snoring, no nodding with bored expressions. People were fixed on trainers (Fatima Bhyat and Anas Tawileh) even during usually the most challenging (read "boring") sessions on wireless standards and budgeting.

Perhaps it should not be surprising. AMARC people are practitioners skilled in distributing information locally to their listeners. They struggle with difficulties when sharing their production with others, shortages of staff etc. They have very clear ideas what they need and when confronted with people who know what wireless "can do", the spark ignites immediately.

Good and inspirative three days. APC and other similar networks should perhaps be much closer to community radio people than they seem to be.