As the bus was grinding to a halt at the gate of the resort, we, the staff members of SHSS were adjusting ourselves; we were getting ready for a day of fun. A day of bonding. A day of togetherness without thinking about our different subject interests of Philosophy, Ethics, Communication Skills or Languages. It was time to learn about our colleagues; the other side of our colleagues that one hardly gets to see in the daily hustle and bustle.
Having soaked in the dust of the Rongai terrain, and the rather bare landscape of shrubs and yellowed grass stems, we gasped at the sight of the black gate, decked with planks of wood running down in sequence. And then we were greeted by the fresh green aroma of the grass and the trees and the shrubs. The varied vegetation took our breath away as we got off the bus, one by one. Everyone commented about the beautiful scenery and how relaxing it felt already. The welcoming couldn’t be better; a cup of steaming coffee awaited us to make sure that we were both present and alert; no longer in our slumber that some of us extended on Saturdays…
The team was then invited to a conference room on one of the wings of the Maasai Lodge. Here, we took our seats, gaze on a screen and ears attentive on the music playing in the background. The Dean made some opening remarks reminding us of the reason for this get-away from our usual busy schedule. We were here to build teamwork and overcome barriers to effective team performance but also to have fun. Then the lead facilitator, attired in his green polo shirt, smiling broadly introduced himself and his colleague. As he looked at our eager faces, he assured us that our expectations would be met.
The razzmatazz (or, in short, razz) filled the room as the participants introduced themselves in varied ways. Using their area of expertise to capture the audience’s attention, they confidently delivered their titles, positions and expectations. The introductions varied in language, in style, in intonation. Some even used their impeccable grasp of several languages to greet the persons seated in the room.
Thereafter we were taken to the outdoors for activities whose aim was to bring out the child that we so often held hidden while interacting with each other in the office. The simple stretches and intriguing game of “kati” loosened the adult grip in the team’s persons. Also, the very simple game of “mingle mingle” had everybody jumping and smiling. We readily mingled with faculty and administrators we wouldn’t have very easily smiled at when it came to the demands of the office. The lesson learnt here was that we should approach life with a child-like attitude and sometimes not take ourselves too seriously especially in the face of personal or team conflicts.
The meals that followed, felt like a sort of reward for having done so well in the first part of the session, they made merry the already empty stomachs. The sumptuous lunch with nyama choma was most welcome, and as delightful as was the razz in the air.
More activities were to follow in the afternoon session which tested whether we listened to each other in the teams and how well we understood each other’s personalities. The idea was to help us appreciate the unique abilities each member brings to the school so as to improve synergy of team’s strengths while mitigating areas of weakness both individually and collectively.
The final team task looked daunting at first. It involved touching an egg by the right ear. The twist: the egg was suspended between two trees, about eight feet off the ground. A member was to trust that their team mates would lift them, direct them to the egg, have them touch the egg with their ear, and slowly bring them down, back to the safety of the ground they find so very comfortable. Even the ‘well-endowed’ successfully took part in this activity. The aim of this game was to encourage collaboration and to test the trust the team members had for each other.
At the close of business, the facilitator took the team through a session of appreciation. Every member was to appreciate at least one of the school’s other members. We also had a chance to show one another that we could – and should, henceforth – rely on the other for support.
The brilliant beams of smiles that were on our faces earlier that morning appreciating the beauty of the resort were now brighter; knowing that we would get the necessary support going forward in our new and refined team. And our razz blazing even as the sun went down behind us…
Story by Faculty Administrator Cyrus Muthumbi