Tough day in Equatorial Guinea with the ITNHGE program

Today just started and it has been the toughest day of my professional career.  We had a student in our program get caught cheating, twice, on the same test.  On numerous occasions I have talked with each class and told them what would happen if anyone gets caught cheating.  The project manager and company rep from the states also talked to the students.  The teachers talked to the students and those that were suspected were placed on final warning.  They acknowledged what would happen if they broke our rules, signed the paper stating they knew what would happen and within a few weeks of them signing, one of the students broke the rules and cheated twice on the same test.

I know this program can make the difference in a young adults life and in a country where relatively few options exist this program is vital.

I had to expel the student, a good kid other than his cheating problem.  I tried to come up with a punishment that would allow me to keep him while maintaining the integrity of the program.  I lost sleep over it and now it is finally over.  I have had to let people go from other jobs before but this one hurt the most.  I’ve been laid off before, I know what this young man is going through.  I think that makes it worse.  Not a good day.

Sunset - No Filter Needed - Equatorial Guinea

Sunset – No Filter Needed – Equatorial Guinea

Hess FPSO (Sendje Ceiba) Competency Program – E.G.

Sandje Ceiba Helideck Equatorial Guinea

Sendje Ceiba Helideck Equatorial Guinea

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.

Disney Trip 2016 – Complete!

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.

Disney 2016

Disney 2016

Cale's favorite ride

Cale’s favorite ride

U.S. Ambassador to Equatorial Guinea at ITNHGE school

U.S. Ambassador to Equatorial Guinea

U.S. Ambassador to Equatorial Guinea

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!!!!

Multinational Management

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.

Carry on……

By the way, here is the sunset from yesterday….not bad huh?

West African Sunset

West African Sunset

ITNHGE Advanced English Class – EG – Africa

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!

Advanced English Presentation

 

Advanced English Presentation

Advanced English Presentation

Who needs Trick-or-Treating? How about Great Wolf Lodge instead!

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.

Great Wolf Lodge for Halloween 2015

Great Wolf Lodge for Halloween 2015

Monte Alen National Park – Equatorial Guinea, Africa

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.

 

Monte Alen National Park - Equatorial Guinea

Monte Alen National Park – Equatorial Guinea