Relationship Building

OUR GOAL: to build relationships with local people in order to better understand their needs and empower them to succeed. 

How do Solbon consultants develop strong relationships with the people we so urgently desire to help?

Elle has been living in north Asia for the past two and a half years. She spent her first year learning language and studying culture in a large city. About a year ago she moved to a small town in order to begin building relationships in the area in which she plans to work long-term. The needs in this town and the surrounding area are many. Poverty is rampant; alcoholism is an epidemic. Where does one even begin to assess the needs of these people?

Relationship Building

Recognizing that relationship building will be essential to the success of any projects in this region, Elle has decided to rent a room from a local woman. She also continues to study language, culture and history at the university in town.  Not only does this provide an opportunity to improve her language skills, it also creates an excellent forum for building friendships.  Through contacts at the university Elle has been able to join an International Club and has also partnered with several local university students who wish to meet weekly to improve their English skills. Through the bitter cold days of winter, Elle has found abundant opportunities to deepen friendships. Sometimes they share a meal, play games, talk over coffee, or attend cultural events together. English is a valued commodity among local university students who recognize that English opens doors for international travel and work. Many club members hope to gain enough fluency in English to study abroad somewhere. Elle has been able to develop an informal language exchange with these friends. They help her practice speaking in the local language and she helps them improve their English skills. Her background as a native English speaker is invaluable in this region as local schools offer few opportunities for conversational practice.

Recently Elle was able to attend a theater event with one of her friends.  The play, which told the story of local mythology, was performed in a dialect which which Elle is unfamiliar.  Although she understood very little of the play at the time, Elle used the performance as a springboard for further discussion with her friends. She was able to ask her friends about the story, the music and some of the cultural values communicated through the performance.

Long Term Rewards

Through this language exchange Elle is building genuine friendships, developing language fluency and also gaining valuable information which she can use to begin strategizing about how to offer real and lasting help to local people. Her goal is to work alongside other Solbon consultants and local residents in order to find sustainable solutions for the serious problems afflicting this population. She knows it may take several years of planning and information gathering before a strategy comes together and is determined to use these early years wisely so that when the time is ripe she will have the foundation necessary to make a genuine difference.