There are many reasons to be on the ground, and we will try to cover a few in details over the next editions, based on our belief, general experience and recent experience on the ground.
To name but a few, we can have general headlines covering different areas for which we believe it is important to be on the ground, work on the field and not from a far away office:
– immersion/inclusion in the cultures, villages
– better understanding of the issues at hand and available resources
– face to face communication
– practical/hands-on teaching
While we can talk about each separately, they all link together. One of the major starting point for me is that the interaction with people is completely different when you are physically there. The reactions and feedback is very different. The discussions are very different. And the main thing is observation: we do learn a lot more by being there and observing daily life, struggles and solutions than by asking questions.
But the interesting thing is that we do not need to talk about far away places… My trip back to Europe a few months ago did show me one of the same: we catch-up a lot more when we see people. We discuss differently, more, better, when we are face to face.
And if we think about it, this is also what we see in the corporate world: while we work with people all over the world, thanks to today’s technology, we also organise regular face to face meetings, which helps create the bound between people. We are still human, and human contact is one of the thing that technology will never replace.
And to some extend, this is what I do: regular face to face. Staying a little longer than 2 days in each place, and experiencing the life in the region. In the same way that every day we experience life within our office/work place every day, but meet our far colleagues once a year. Having a mobile office and not a set place, I meet people once a year (or every 2 years for some…) for a few weeks but experience the daily life every day in between.