Learning Journey: Click refresh and reload

Date: May 2, 2016
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1Oh how time flies. The year 2015 went by so fast with me wishing I could hold onto it just a little a bit longer. From the many resolutions I fixed myself up with and the potential greatness I foresaw in only achieving a few of them. I found myself looking in the mirror at the end of the year and saying this is an unfinished journey but it is a fulfilling journey.

As I sit back to reflect on the many experiences and sometimes meandering roads that I have travelled both professionally and personally, I feel there is a great and overwhelming task ahead of me.

As I come to work every day, I see this as an opportunity for growth and taking back with me something new. I carry with me a lot in my increasingly weighty bag of experiences.

The biggest part to my 2015 was our favourite Gender and Media Progress Study (GMPS). It did not come short of many tears, sweat and a lot of pushing and pulling, mixed emotions and of course lots of laughter and good times. It was a year of tests. A test on patience, strength and resilience, being knocked out of our comfort zones going back to the drawing board, rethinking and re-strategising.

GL has carved its own space in the gender and media landscape and with a cranky start to our largest research piece to date it was a bumpy road. We needed to arm ourselves with unending patience and resilience so we continue to keep this stronghold.

A lot was on the line for us as a team. Our credibility, our ability and reputation were on the line. We delivered late and when we delivered it was challenging and we constantly had to refresh, rewind and start again. I even found myself in a space were I doubted if this work would ever happen. I remember those many days when a barrage of questions about the monitoring tool came from all corners of the SADC region. I just felt like saying just click Ctrl +F5 to refresh and start again. These were my moments of despair. I was at my wits end. None of the answers I had to the problems they were facing in capturing the data were working.

Many of the plans that we had set out to achieve fell away. Our hopes of showcasing and launching this important research at the biggest African media gathering with media scholars, researchers, students, activists and so on at Highway Africa got dimmer and dimmer until the candle blew out on us when we failed to start this research. This could have been an opportunity for us to put GL up on the media map again but we missed the bus. We had to think how else to do this.

Many lessons were learned around good planning and forming the right partnerships for the piece of work we were engaged in. I learnt to2 calm the waters when our partners became doubtful. A lot of relationship management was involved. We found ourselves having to remind each other why we were doing this and how we had to keep it together and keep our heads above the water, instead of drown.  We needed to focus on the bigger picture and not the stones that were in our path.

Our efforts to make GMPS a reality were soon to pay off but almost at the end. This was a year’s work that we needed to finish by December. Hence, I felt like 2015 needed to stay with us just a bit longer. However, most importantly even if we could not start the research in time and faced many obstacles along the way, we never gave up. We repositioned and continued to try again. Yes we went over bumps, but did not fall flat on our faces. We continued to have the go-getter attitude we have nursed throughout the years

With all the confusion that seemed to follow us in the year, I shall not ignore the good things that we went through. I appreciate the confidence that my manager, Sikhonzile Ndlovu, had in me as I managed the GMMP research, drafted funding proposals and donor reports and coordinated the GMPS project and the COE process. I often felt these duties were beyond me and I could not do them, but she sees the potential in me that I sometimes fail to see myself.

My portfolio also grew bigger in 2015, moving beyond the Centres of Excellence project, the Gender and Media Diversity Centre and the research. I was roped into more communications work having to manage GL’s social media platforms. I managed to take up this work gracefully, treading softly but making gains on this front. I found myself punching above my weight which made me believe in myself as I began to find my feet on new ground for growth which lay before me. Juggling the many projects under our wings and pushing hard to complete the Centres of Excellence project, I believe I soared even higher. I found it fun and enjoyable and something that I look forward to steering to greater heights.

The Global Alliance on Media and Gender GAMAG first General Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland was a sweet ending to the year. GL hosted one side event and we attended very insightful sessions. I was also able to write some stories, document and share the happenings at the event on social media. I am grateful to Colleen Lowe Morna, our CEO, for having confidence in the young staff at GL to carry this work forward.

As I click refresh, reloading a new chapter as we move into another year with hope and our heads held up, I have more zeal and passionately look forward to the new experiences and beginnings in my career.

Written by Tarisai Nyamweda, Media Programme Officer, Gender Links