Achievements and Learnings in 2016

2016 has been an exciting year for us. Besides the opening of our first learning center in Sri Lanka, we also conducted for the very first time Capability Programs with mixed teams in Asia and Europe. At the end of this year, we wanted to share with you our achievements and learnings. Read what each team member has to say about this year (or watch it in this video).

CarstenCarsten, CEO
Thinking back of 2016, the Summit comes to my mind as our biggest achievement at the first place. Personally, I was especially touched by the evening around the fireplace. I felt so connected to all bridgebuilders being present when we sang songs and shared stories. Secondly, the Capability Program made me very proud this year. For the first time, the program did not only foster entrepreneurial thinking and acting among talents in the Global North but in the Global South as well. Local candidates from Mongolia, Cambodia and Sri Lanka learnt in the program how to setup their own business and do what they really are. I am also proud to welcome talents from 5 new companies in our programs. As a result, the Capability Program allowed us to be profitable as a social enterprise for the third year in a row. Thirdly, we launched our impact wall this year with more than 80 selfies on the change we have brought to people‘s lives. It makes me so proud to kick off each new week with a video from one of our bridgebuilders.

As key lessons learnt, I would like to mention two special moments. First, I learnt that our Vision “Do what you really are” may mean that bridgebuilders change the course of their personal or professional life. And that this is something positive! Emilie retired from her role as program manager after two years and chose to become a self-employed business coach. She has grown in confidence through this change. Jella decided to return to our team after her maternity leave. Instead of continuing her administrative role, she found the management of our programs a perfect opportunity to grow. Ra is another great example. He got so inspired by our learning centers that he became an entrepreneur himself as part of an incubator in Phnom Penh. Good luck to him! And finally Kadet who left “our” learning center in Ang Tasom to setup “her” own learning center just down the road. While this decision came with a lot of challenges for Sokhan and Kadet’s successor Sothika, we can be proud that Kadet continued her journey in providing children with education.

Second, I learnt that letting go is an important part of leadership. Since September 2015, I have not stepped into an airplane. I am not proud of this. But I am proud that I optimized by time around my daughter Anna. Spending more time with her came to the expense of spending less time with BOOKBRIDGE. This allowed everyone to step in, fill the space and grow. And I am happy to say that our learning centers and country organizations now run without depending on me. So letting go makes you achieve this!

TungaTunga, Country Manager Assistant Mongolia
I am proud that this year I could complete the tasks I set for 2016. As for the auditing process at BOOKBRIDGE, I could find a new auditor company that is more competent and cheaper than the last one. The recommendation of the Audit will be improved and completed by the financial report of the year 2016. I also managed to complete the legal documents for establishing an NGO in Mongolia to 95%. As the process is very complicated and laws-centered I realized that we need external help if we don´ want to spend too much time in doing it. Concerning the Capability Programs we conducted in Mongolia I could support them as needed so that they could successfully be implemented.
As for my goal of enabling sustainable impact through our fellows, I have learnt that only few applicants meet the need of our learning centers and that the positions are not very attractive for foreign English teachers. We also need to establish stricter rules on the expected behaviour of a fellow. Personally, I could improve my English speaking skills through my work. However, I realized that I will have to take a classe to improve substantially.

Monika is part of the BOOKBRIDGE teamMonika, Country Development Manager
2016 was a great year for BOOKBRIDGE in terms of progressing towards Vision 2020. During All Staff Training in Cambodia and Mongolia, our Community Heroes gave excellent and thorough inputs towards the development of a quality framework and also described the many things they are doing at their learning centers for their students and for their communities. More and more teachers at the learning centers tried to implment more student-centered approaches in their classrooms.

More and more connections are being developed across the globe. Learning centers from the three countries we are operating in are collaborating and bringing their students together more and more. The Community Heroes have been working closely with CAP alumni and other Bridgebuilders on various projects such as conversation classes, fundraising and business development.

The Sri Lanka team is growing with one learning center successfully established (in Bandarawela) and another one on the way.

My key lessons learned: the need to observe our learning centers more closely for quality of programs, teaching and learning. It’s not enough to rely on photos and stories for their learning centers themselves, but regular interaction with and visits to the centers are required to monitor and asses. Another key lesson is the need to carefully review together both sides key contracts and agreements concerning our partners.

SokhanSokhan, Country Manager Cambodia
My 2016 has been a good busy year, personally, but there were a few disturbances in my daily routine. The first one, my babysitter has left us for a better life chance causing me some troubles in dealing with my little daughter Jolie. The second one is, as part of paying my gratitude to my grandpa who passed away late last month, together with my siblings, uncles and cousins, I converted to a Buddhist monk for a short time for his funeral.

Professionally, 2016 has been an exciting year for me being a Country Manager for BOOKBRIDGE Cambodia. Three major goals have been accomplished:

  1. Tani Learning Center was established through BOOBRIDGE’s 7th Capability Program with its Community Hero, Sothy Tep
  2. Although, the goal to develop Angroka Micro Learning Center into a fully fledged learning center was not implemented as planned, but having Sothika Khoeun as a new Community Hero for BOOKBRIDGE Learning Center Angtasom has brought promising outcomes toward the goal set
  3. The Community Hero for our 9th Capability Program, Ravy Vang, was found and our first local Capability Program with 9 local candidates led by a local business coach, Chanthorn Theng, being run in parallel with European program.

However, 2016 has also been a challenging year for my works since two of the six goals set are still behind schedule but this outcome has given me some lessons learned:

  1. Things could be ‘off-track’ when the goal set was too ambitous and underestimation of time and changes when dealing with people from different backgrounds with limited skills and expertise
  2. Keeping a small thing delayed or ignored would cause us failed to reach a major goal.

JellaJella, Program Manager
My working year hasn’t started before November, as I dedicated nearly the whole year’s time to my daughter Minja. And so my key learnings and experiences in 2016 have happened more in the area of the new role as mama and as part of a little family. And here my key learning was: I couldn’t imagine how adventurous, how great, how funny and at the same time how challenging it can be to become a Mama and a family and to find the right new place for everybody in this new life phase. And now I’m really happy and proud on how we found together as a family.

And finally on November 10 when Minja became 1 year I started working for BOOKBRIDGE again. My key learning in this: Great to come back to BOOKBRIDGE and to this familiar organisation – but at the same time so much had changed and moved forward within this one year! I had to get to know (and still have to) BOOKBRIDGE newly.

My learning happened during a Capability Program in Basel in November – CAP8 team met for the last Module and CAP9 for the first Module. The two teams had a speed dating on their questions and experiences. The atmosphere was so electrified! My key learning: Be open-minded, be curious on new things and always ready to get something started, like the candidates are here, this is so inspiring and so many good things can arise. This atmosphere of “something gets started” gives me lots of energy.

RHRuth, Marketing and PR
My main achievement this year was getting our new website online that better shows what we are doing – thanks to the creatives at Contexta. My biggest learnings this year came from the people I met at the BridgeBuilder Summit in March, especially the women. Meeting my colleagues Monika, Battuul and Sujitha for the first time was a great honour for me and showed me what BOOKBRIDGE is: a bunch of highly motivated people striving to reach the same goal.

My women colleagues inspire me very much: Monika who brings in a lot of experience in the field of education, tons of cross-cultural experience and a high level of abstraction capacity. Sujitha, an experienced educational journalist who has now opened her own learning center in Sri Lanka adding social competences to her center’s course offerings by visiting projects and organizations with her students. Tunga who is our tri-lingual (English, German, Mongolian) administrator of our office in Ulaanbaatar supporting our Mongolian learning centers. May-Britt who is managing one of the most important research centers in Germany and has set up the learning center in Bandarawela. Uuganaa who is running our first learning center in Mongolia with never-ending energy, enthusiasm and humour. Emilie who started as manager of our capability programs and now has decided to work as business coach for Swiss and international companies. All are smart, hard-working women and dedicated mothers. The combination of motherhood, professional work and enthusiasm for BOOKBRIDGE’s values inspires me and shows me that we are on the right track.

Watch our achievements and learnings in this video:

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