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In the past, village development projects in India included livestock support, installation of solar-powered oast houses, and village leader training. However, materialistic support reduced the independence of the villagers, and village leader training was often a one-time event. Therefore, JTS decided to hold a long-term village leadership program so that villagers could learn to become more self-reliant and pursue a sustainable development that is in line with the purpose of JTS community development plans.

How was the program of the Leaders’ Conference designed?

JTS’s top priority was to develop a program that would help the participants independently develop sustainable villages. JTS devised a nine-month long leadership training program, rather than a one-time training, in order to bring concrete and long-term change in the villages. JTS volunteer staff Hyeryeon Han and Hyerim Cho held a planning meeting with Dodong and Trel. At the suggestion of Dodong and Trel, the Action Planning by JTS Philippines President Lee Wonju was combined with a leadership program called “Bridging Leadership.” Former Mayor Chongko and Mr. Datu Mikitai attended this program.

How were the leaders selected?

JTS decided not to limit the participants to only those from villages where JTS had conducted development projects. Upon making this decision, JTS asked the mayor to recommend some passionate village leaders. Although JTS prioritized accepting  villages already supported by JTS, it made sure to look for other poor villages with passionate leaders. The best way to select the participants was to visit the villages and meet the leaders who wanted to join this program. However, due to the lack of time and manpower, JTS had to depend on the judgment of the mayor and the city hall officials to select the participants. JTS invited the selected leaders from each village and had an orientation session prior to the training program. JTS explained to the participants that the main purpose of this program was to train leaders for the development of sustainable villages. All of the participants agreed to join the 9-month long educational experience.

Young, enthusiastic, and dedicated leader

It was difficult to communicate the selection standards of a “village leader” to the mayor and city hall officials without visiting the villages in person and assessing the situation of each village. The description of “young, enthusiastic, and dedicated village leader” was too vague since it didn’t clarify how young the leader had to be, and whether the leader had to come from a sitio or from other villages. In response to the request for young leaders, one village sent a teenager, so JTS had to ask the village to recommend another candidate. The actual participants ranged from sitio leaders and general affairs managers to women who were homemakers and had little interest in the leadership program.

During the 3-day training program, Dodong and Trel conducted the leadership program for two days. Then during the remaining time, the participants set up a plan for a 3-month village development project. Wonju Lee, Dodong and Trel provided feedback on the plan.

The leadership program was carried out in Visayan, and the lecture by Wonju Lee was interpreted by Trel from Korean to Visayan. While the participants were divided into groups and discussed the development plan for each village, the local JTS staff (Dodong, Trel, Aki, Jessie, Geramie, and Tieza) joined the groups and gave them feedback. Jessie and Tieza were not originally part of the program staff, but they joined because more people were needed.

During the Village Leadership Training

The village leaders showed a great deal of interest and were happy about the program. During the orientation and training program, it was clear that participants were greatly interested in developing their villages. For most of the participants, it was the first time participating in this type of educational program. They were happy that the program consisted of practical and useful content. In order to guide  the village leaders to form their own village development plans instead of relying on plans set up by others, it was necessary to research on how to coach the leaders with specific content. In this year’s leadership training program, there was a heavy dependence on a leadership program Dodong and Trel had outsourced. After the training program, Dodong and Trel concluded that village leaders had quite a low level of knowledge. As a result, it is necessary to develop a leadership program that is in line with the vision of JTS as well as take into consideration the knowledge level of the participants. The leadership program prepared by Dodong and Trel emphasized the improvement of individual leadership, while Wonju Lee’s action-planning focused on the formation of village level plans. Therefore, the program needs to be adjusted.  

The mayor recommended 15 participants for the leadership training program that consisted of 3 leaders from each of 5 villages. Considering that there may be people who are unable to participate in the long-term project, JTS explained the purpose of the program during the orientation. JTS intended to select leaders from 3 villages among those who showed the most interest during the orientation.

However, all of the individuals who attended the orientation thought they would be able to participate in the program, since the mayor recommended them. Therefore, some of them had difficulty accepting that JTS would only select leaders from 3 villages for more effective training. However, on the first day of the program, some could not attend for various reasons, so attendance was lower than expected. Based on this experience, JTS learned that it is necessary to find a better way to select the villages and the leaders for the training program.

It was difficult for the Korean JTS volunteers to understand the specifics and progress of the program due to the language barrier. Since the village leaders cannot speak English, the program has to be conducted in Visayan. Thus, the Korean staff can only understand what the local Indian staff interprets. Since the training program has to be conducted in Visayan, JTS needs to devise a method to check whether the program is in line with the vision of JTS, have the Korean JTS volunteer learn Visayan, and foster Indian JTS staff who have a thorough understanding of JTS’s vision.