On Monday, December 11, Yvonne and Audrey welcomed everyone and explained the workshop’s objectives. This was followed by a short report by each participant on the state of the election program in their jurisdictions. Everyone was particularly interested in the situation in Fiji, Honiara, and Tonga.
We were treated with a video showcasing Audrey in her personal journey toward accreditation as a Bridge Facilitator. We were extremely proud of her accomplishment. Thereafter, we engaged in an exercise in training needs assessment, scoping, and Bridge project planning. Our starting point was to ask the question, “What exactly was it that prompted the proposal for Bridge training in the first place?” Then, we proceeded to answer questions on What? Why? How? Who? and When? To assist us, a handout of timelines was provided.
On Tuesday, December 12, we engaged in an exercise in conducting a training needs assessment. The exercise included developing a budget for Bridge personnel, training venue, equipment, Bridge material, and miscellaneous costs. It also included an exercise in developing a communications plan for all stakeholders. To assist us, sample budgets were provided to serve as guidelines.
On Wednesday, December 13, we started off the day with an exercise in putting together a Facilitator’s Handbook and a Participant’s Handbook. This impressed upon us the importance of correctly collating the designated course material, and ensuring that it correlates with the facilitator’s lecture.
After morning tea, Alistair briefed everyone on PIANZEA’s plans for 2007 and beyond. The long and short of it is that PIANZEA and Bridge are entering a very exciting time. Then we engaged in a final project to develop a draft Bridge Implementation Plan that included sections on “Background”, “Brief Description, Objectives, and Outcome”, a “Budget”, and a “Timeline”. True to our expectations, the Implementation Manual had sufficient guidelines and samples to allow us to develop some very realistic implementation plans.
After lunch, we toured the Australian Electoral Commission’s main office and were introduced to Bridge’s website. I registered right after Sadhana, and found it to be easy. During afternoon tea, we completed the course evaluation, received our certificates, photos, contact sheets, and said our goodbyes … until we meet again hopefully next year in Vanuatu.
It is now Monday afternoon, December 18. I am back from Melbourne and reflecting on the past week. I just got off the phone with my attorney who advised that the Supreme Court of Guam has just issued another ruling favorable to us. I am quite relieved. An unfavorable decision would have resulted in our having to conduct both the primary election and the general election all over again. This would have been devastating to me, my board, and my staff. This past election cycle has been the most litigious for the Guam Election Commission. But, we did our best to ensure that the people of Guam were afforded the opportunity to freely and democratically elect their leaders. So far, the Guam courts have supported the people’s choices. Then I think of the situation in Fiji, and Honiara, and Tonga, and Samoa … and I close my eyes and say a prayer. I thank God that there is a PIANZEA, a Bridge program, and that there is a Ross, and an Alistair, and Yvonne, and Audrey, and Michelle, and Chris, and Erik, and Jeanette, and Sadhana, and Tom, and everyone in PIANZEA trying their best to make this a better world to live in.
Gerald A. Taitano
Guam Election Commission