In Conversation with Danish Yousufzai

SoLF had a chat with a young community trainer, Danish who shares how he landed amongst those he admired greatly as trainers; his emphasis on understanding diversity of regions to effectively communicate with participants and the obstacles in community training.

SOLF: How did you become a community trainer?
D.Y.: This is an interesting story. I was working as an intern in a pharmaceutical company in the last semester of MBA when I saw School of Leadership’s (SoL’s) facebook page and decided to meet and interact with these amazing trainers who were working in this youth oriented organization. Surprisingly, one and a half years later I was at SoL working with these very people whom I admired so much. It was through my exposure and learning at SoL that I focused more on becoming a trainer. Currently, I run my own training organization in Peshawar.

SOLF: What are your strengths as a community trainer?
D.Y.: I have travelled extensively in KPK, Sindh and Punjab. I know the culture, traditions and norms, therefore I am very sensitive in the ideas I pitch in while talking to members of different communities. This makes the trainings accessible and productive as I know how to communicate ideas using local examples, metaphors and incidents. For instance, when we went to KPK to conduct a teacher’s training for DOSTI, it was observed that the participants did not respond so positively when the training was being conducted in Urdu on Day 1. So, we changed our strategy and I was asked to switch the communication style using Pushto. It was the same training but because of the change in language, the impact was different and greater. Knowledge of local languages and cultures make my toolkit very diverse.

SOLF: What kinds of community trainings have you conducted?

D.Y.: I have trained a diverse age group ranging from 10 to 60 years. In a short time span I feel extremely happy that I have covered a wide variety of trainings and social issues – from Teacher’s Training on DOSTI to training on peace, women empowerment, leadership, education and awareness/advocacy drives for numerous psychosocial issues.

SOLF: What do you feel has been your best training experience so far?

D.Y.: The best experience was DOSTI – Training of Teachers, undoubtedly. The reason being that the participants were very experienced in their fields and yet they were so open and respectful in discussing new ideas with trainers like us who were much younger than them in age as well as in experience. They were keen to amend the ways of teaching they have adopted for their whole lives for the betterment of education and I have immense respect for them.

SOLF: What drives you as a community trainer?
D.Y.: The work I am doing is extremely self- satisfying. I think I am not among those who believe in criticizing and doing nothing for the nation on my own. I am happy that at least I am contributing in my own little way to make my society better and this is more than enough to drive me further as a community trainer.

SOLF: Do you feel there are any obstacles in the way of community training in Pakistan?
D.Y.: The biggest obstacle in the way of what we’re doing is the incentivized approach of the people. Where ever we go, it is not the training itself but the monetary incentives that attract participants and this defeats the purpose of bringing about a positive change in the mind-set of people. Also, if the younger generation is receptive but the local authorities are not, the work becomes even more challenging for us. Our work depends on the cooperation of local authorities to a great extent. Cultural insensitivity is also a big hindrance because when the trainer is unable to empathize with people from various communities and local culture, the essence of community development dies and so I always highlight the significance of empathy and local understanding of traditions.

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