Been spending a bit more time on the FPSO improving our competency program. We are starting to make some large gains due to some very simple implementations. Great group of guys, great group of leaders, great group of eager candidates in the competency phase of their career.
Not a bad view from the gazebo at the ITNHGE, Wood Group / Hexagon compound in Equatorial Guinea, Africa.
Get ready everyone, Guinea Bucks is open for business and their drinks / coffees are great. I’m sure that any relation to the name and color of another popular coffee chain is purely coincidental!
We did it! We got the kids to Disney, my lovely wife arranged it all, the kids had no idea where we were going until we were on the tram at the Orlando airport. The trip was a major success, due in large part to excellent planning. We had a full itinerary and it worked great. We still ended up walking roughly 9 miles per day, but it could have been much worse. Everybody had a great time. The only ride we didn’t get to do that I wanted to was Space Mountain. Both times we went there (we had the Fast Pass), the first time it was shut down. The 2nd time, we made it up to where we were maybe 3rd in line to hop in a car, then it was shut down again. Oh well, as my wife said, it’s better to find out now than to be stuck out there on the ride. The weather was perfect, no rain, and temps that never got over 85 degrees during the hot part of the day. Also, if you are going, the Fast Pass system is a MUST.
So the other day I had the pleasure of giving a tour of our school to the U.S. Ambassador to Equatorial Guinea, Julie Furuta-Toy (in white). Matthew Lamm is the public affairs guy sharply dressed but probably burning up in that jacket. Julie Beberman is the Gov’t Affairs and Economic officer that had a lot of questions for us. In the back row is one of our technical teachers on the right, Randy, and one of my supervisors on the left, Alan. The tour went well, it was my first tour given to an ambassador. US Embassy in EG
With the ITNHGE school winding down because the EG government wants to open up there own school eventually, our last graduating class will be December of next year. We’ve turned out over 500 bilingual trainees from our program that has morphed over the years to become a highly respected 3 year training program the first of it’s kind in sub-Saharan Africa. We used to have over 1200 applicants for only 50 spots per year. In the beginning we had people trying to “buy” their way in, but when it was realized that we don’t operate that way, it legitimized the program in the eyes of the people, giving every Guinean equal footing regardless of status or family connections.
Thanks to excellent teachers and students for making this possible! Fun times!!!!
Some days, managing people from 10 or so different countries get’s to you. Especially when you’re an ocean away from your family for so long. Wood Group is pretty good to me, but always trying to be aware of other cultures viewpoints and taking into account their worldview becomes a struggle at times. On the plus side, the rewards when you can keep that many people from all different corners of the world working together is quite satisfying.
By the way, here is the sunset from yesterday….not bad huh?
In the 2nd year of the ITNHGE program in Equatorial Guinea, the students are in Advanced English, Math and Science. Almost every one of these kids (I say kids, but most are in their 20’s), had 0 English skills when they joined the program. The first year is a really intensive English program. I went into the Year 2 classroom the other day, and the students were giving group presentations in English and the topic was English. These kids were talking about participle’s, past tense, future tense, all things I have not thought of in many years. What’s more amazing, when the teacher asked which group volunteered to be first, half of the groups raised their hand immediately. I was quite impressed. They even worked on their transitions between members of the groups. It is an interesting dynamic, we have teachers and other employees from all over the world (Australia, Ireland, US, UK, Philippines, Eastern Europe and Nationals). All these people have different cultural norms, ways they communicate and ways they interpret. In the beginning it helps to have a bit of cultural training that way the lines of communication won’t become a jumbled mess. With the ITNHGE program, I think we got it right. But that is because we have students that want to be here and want to learn and teachers that feel the same. Here are some pics of the day!
I had to come back to Africa and miss Halloween. But my wife actually had something much cooler planed, how about an indoor water park! The kids even got to trick-or-treat in the lobby and my wife said they got as much candy as they would have in our neighborhood. I wished I could have visited Great Wolf Lodge with them, maybe next time.
If you in EG and want to go to Monte Alen National Park, from Bata, head to Niefang, then head south. You will see old signs on the right hand side of the road proclaiming the park and that no hunting is allowed and on the sign is an albino gorilla. Not long after you see the first sign, there will be an area on the opposite side of the road which is the park entrance. It threw me off as to why the park is on one side and the entrance is on the other and nothing is clearly marked. This is what the road looks like once you turn off of the highway. If the barrels are up with the stick, that means the park is “closed” and it’s always closed during the rainy seasons. Now, that being said, I was there last week and took this picture in the rain and we met a nice man who would be happy to take us into the park, but he said its about a 4 hour round trip. All he needed to do was grab a machete and we could go. But since it was raining and already in the afternoon it didn’t seem like a good idea. He also said that the park is never closed because they get their food from there (I don’t think the “no hunting” sign means much to the locals). This is one of the places where there are mountain gorillas, so I’ll be headed back, with mosquito spray and a LOT of water.
The other day I went out to the Hess FPSO, Sandje Ceiba off the coast of Equatorial Guinea. It is a well run FPSO. I was there for roughly 4 hours, and I went on a tour that lasted about 90 minutes. In that short amount of time, my Fitbit HR went through the roof. If probably thought I was having a heart attack. First, I had to wear FRC coveralls over my regular clothes in a sub tropical climate. Then I was led down to the bowels of the ship to the engine room, which wasn’t so bad if you enjoy stifling heat. Everything was fine until we started UP the stairs. It was here that I thought I might die……in the bowels of a ship…….in extreme heat……wearing bright orange coveralls. 27 floors, most done in 45 minutes. As nice as the FPSO was and the people that work there from Hess and Wood Group, from now on, no more engine room tours. I don’t think my Fitbit or I could handle it again.