Ending Surprise

Transitions are gonna get easier… right?

That is the question I kept asking myself (to the tune of The Five Stairsteps “Ooh Child”) this week as I pondered why the last week of any involvement for me always seems to be the most hectic. Even so, I think I have an answer for myself. Yes, transitions are gonna get easier if you continue to improve the way you prepare for and handle them. And preparing for transitions is best done long before they will occur. Strategically-minded organizations use succession planning for that very reason.

While I saw some personal progress this past week with managing the end of a commitment, I started the week with a sizeable to-do list and only four full days to complete it. I worked hard reviewing my supervisor’s feedback on my edits of the last sections of legal statute descriptions that apply to Ohio’s crime victims. I also decided to combine all the notes I had made on Toolkit sections throughout the summer into one, more organized report. That way all of my work would be documented in one place and easy to refer to when considering future updates to the toolkit. At the least, others would be able to see my methods and why certain changes were made.

In some ways, the week was a bit anticlimactic. The attorney with whom I shared an office was out the first two days, and I did not see my supervisor until Thursday, so I kept to myself even more at work to start the week. I also did not know when any of my recommendations would ultimately be implemented for the toolkit. Then our closing Fellowship luncheon on Friday at The Columbus Foundation ended without the feeling of a formal goodbye. However, the week had its share of satisfying and triumphant moments as well.

At the luncheon, I gave my first PechaKucha presentation to recap the summer. The format involves talking for twenty seconds each about twenty different slides, which typically contain a photo and little to no text. Since I can be wordy, the presentation style challenged me to pick the most important points to make about the summer and to convey them concisely. Photo selection was also difficult. For one, I had deemed few moments of my toolkit review throughout the summer as photo worthy. (The main changes in the image of me sitting at my computer were the color and pattern of my shirts.) Jokes aside, a PechaKucha requires careful thought about what picture best displays each twenty second segment of the presentation’s message. As I planned what to say, I realized that writing a PechaKucha script ultimately involves crafting a coherent story, subdivided into twenty parts that each include a visual element. That line of thinking, though perhaps often overlooked without the constraints of a format like PechaKucha, will help me in preparing for all types of presentations going forward.

The convening of Fellows and their organization hosts for the luncheon was also special. I felt well supported and thankful to have my supervisor and the Volunteer Coordinator for Ohio Crime Victim Justice Center join me, and it was neat to learn more about the programs and missions of the participating nonprofits, as told by the other Fellows. All summer, we had shared bits of information with each other, but the PechaKucha presentations connected a lot of dots and made me smile to hear the way the Fellowship experience had impacted my peers. I even got to reconnect with a high school classmate who was there as staff for one of the other nonprofits that hosted a Fellow.

At Ohio Crime Victim Justice Center, I got to talk more extensively than I ever have with the Founder and Executive Director, Cathy Harper Lee. She was pleased to see some of my report on Toolkit recommendations, and I learned more about her passion and ideas for the organization. By now I know first-hand that the Toolkit is a great resource within Ohio, but Cathy said it even could become a model for other states interested to have a toolkit for crime victims’ rights. The possibility that my work could be part of something to that scale was humbling, but an even bigger surprise was coming.

Talking to Cathy at OCVJC

Talking to Cathy about the Toolkit

Before leaving for the week, I had agreed to continue with the organization in a consulting role through the end of September. As part of another grant, I will now work to promote the Toolkit and increase its use around the state. The work had seemed a natural next step from my summer project.

The Fellowship is over, but my time at Ohio Crime Victim Justice Center is not. That means I have another transition coming in several weeks’ time, and I’m going to start getting ready for that new ending right away. I’ll also keep in mind two of my biggest takeaways from the ten weeks with OCVJC and the Columbus Foundation:

  • The need for clear and effective communication for sharing information, including across languages and other barriers, and
  • The importance of capacity building for both individuals and groups.

Communication and capacity building will be two of my priorities over the coming month and beyond.

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