I am part of an organization called The Ateneo CODE (Consultants for Organization Development and Empowerment) although I am not a very active member. CODE specializes in helping other groups and organizations both in and out of Ateneo with regard to Organization Development related problems and concerns. CODE does this by having engagements wherein they conduct a series of activities or lectures in order to address the issues raised by their client organization. Despite being a member of CODE, I have not been able to be part of an engagement team or even been able to see how an engagement would go. Thus, I decided to observe and participate in an external engagement that CODE had with the St. Peter’s Parish Choir Group. My informant was an Externals Representative if CODE.
The engagement took place in a huge function hall just below the St. Peter’s Parish Church along Commonwealth Avenue. There were around 30 choir members who attended and yet they were only able to occupy a small portion of the hall. An LCD projector and screen were set up which I assumed were to be used for a lecture and the choir members were seated directly in front of the stage area. The hall was not air-conditioned but it was a good thing that the engagement took place at night so it wasn’t too warm. The hosts from CODE told everyone to rise for the prayer and I knew that the engagement proper had begun.
The CODE team conducted a total of two activities throughout the engagement.
In the first activity, the choir members were divided into two groups. Each group member was then instructed to put on a blindfold and form a circle while holding hands. The participants seemed very restless and noisy but they soon kept quiet as the activity progressed. Next, the facilitators said that one “leader” was supposed to step out of each of the circles in order to instruct their groups. However, the participants were not allowed to talk and discuss who the leader would be. When one leader had volunteered per group, they were all instructed to form a specific shape while holding hands. Only the leaders were allowed to instruct the participants what to do. This process was repeated twice in the activity. Personally, I found the activity quite boring since the participants were not allowed to talk and all they did was to form shapes with their bodies.
The second activity was much livelier since it involved role playing and singing. More importantly, it was more amusing since the CODE team allowed me to join in as a participant. The group I joined was actually very welcoming since they all shook my hand and introduced themselves although I could only remember a few like Eric, John Mark and Vanessa. They kept asking all sorts of things like what year I was in, what course I’m in and many more questions till the facilitator called our attention in order to begin the activity. Our task was to create a skit with five acts wherein there had to be one narrator and two singers with the rest simply role-playing. Both groups were given the same ending of the story and our skit served as the beginning and middle part. During our planning session, I was quickly assigned to play the role of the son in the story since I could not sing well unlike the choir members. Moreover, all of them were very open to suggestions not just from me, but from anyone in the group as well. They even let me pick the songs that would match each scene. There was also a lot of laughing and joking as a lot of funny suggestions for the skit were being discussed. When our time was up, we performed what we rehearsed and I don’t know if I was biased but I felt that we did a really good job. The other group actually figured that most of the song suggestions came from me since a lot of the songs were very current unlike most of the other songs that were from the 90’s or early 2000’s. Personally, I had a lot of fun not just because the activity was really interesting to begin with but because my group mates were very enthusiastic and energetic.
The engagement ended with a processing and synthesis session wherein the facilitators asked the participants how they found the activities and how they felt while doing them. Overall, the participants gave good feedback and a lot of them said that they had fun. Afterwards, the facilitators explained the rationale behind each of the two activities and what lessons were meant to be conveyed. It turns out that the first activity was meant to teach the participants about initiative and the second was about team dynamics. My informant told me that the most important aspect of the engagement was for the participants to experience the activities without letting them know what the main lesson was. In other words, the activities were designed so that the participants would learn and uncover the lessons on their own through the experience. She also told me that the facilitators were the ones who also made the respective activities and the lessons that were taught were chosen from the diagnosis that the team made from their meeting with the choir head. It turns out that the choir head felt that the members were losing interest in their choir practices and did not bond well together. Thus my informant told me that the activities were made to address these problems.
Overall, the experience proved to be both enjoyable and informative at the same time. As the engagement ended, my knowledge and appreciation for my organization certainly deepened. It was truly an interesting yet different experience to see an actual external engagement in action.
By: Joseph Vincent A. Pizarro || SA 21 || Section P