Jack and the Black Hats: Grassroots Diplomacy

Jack and the Black Hats

Step 1: Determine Facts

  1. Jack in an American in Kenya working in a social venture
  2. He also works at a youth center in Kenya and will be working there for the entire duration of his stay
  3. International Donor Org sent gifts that jack must distribute to the children
  4. There were not enough gifts for every child, and the children who were left were given black hats unceremoniously
  5. Jack is blamed by the kids as the reason they did not get gifts.
  6. Staff does not care that some of the kids did not get a gift.
  7. Staff calls jack a Childrens rights activist because they were annoyed that jack brought up the kids and how he felt awkward.

Step 2 + 3: Stakeholders and their motivations

  1. Jack
    1. Personal: He does not want to be the awkward and ignorant american that causes issues and stress for the locals.
    2. Professional: He wants to keep a good relationship with the staff at the childrens center.
    3. Both: He wants to be liked by the kids and save face in front of them
  2. Kids that did not get the ceremonious gift and only got a hat
    1. Personal: They want to have the same dignity as the kids that received them ceremoniously
    2. Personal: Think that jack does not care about them
  3. Kids that got the gifts
    1. Personal: Like jack for giving them gifts
  4. Youth Center Staff
    1. Professional: They don’t want their work to be seen as unfair
    2. Prof: Do not think that the issue with the kids not getting enough gifts is worth pursuing
    3. Personal: They want to be seen as people who are doing well and taking good care of the kids.
  5. International Donor Organization
    1. Both: they want to look good, and need to uphold a reputation that they are doing good, therefore they sent the gifts to the children at this center. They want to be able to help as many children as possible
    2. Prof: They want to successfully present a nice gesture.
  6. The University that sent Jack abroad.
    1. Personal: they want to look good, their reputation rests on the actions of Jack
    2. Professional: They want the social venture that jack is working on to prosper

Step 4: Formulate (3) potential solutions

  1. Jack makes gifts to ceremoniously give to the black hat children in front of the group
    1. Solution Pros:
      1. The kids that did not get gifts would receive the pomp and circumstance that they want.
    2. Con:
      1. The other kids may get jealous
      2. The staff at the center may see this action as going against their word, may make them look bad.
    3. ST Relationship Impact:
      1. The staff may be annoyed with him
    4. LT Relationship Impact
      1. The staff may feel Jack is an activist and may cause more problems for him
    5. Venture Impact St
      1. There might be some impact on the way people look at jack and the venture based on the actions and the fact that he has to redo the event.
    6. Venture LT
      1. People will remember this event and it might help people forget about the problem
  2. Jack Wears a black hat every day (or frequently) to make the hat kids feel special too
    1. Pro: The kids will feel more included and respected by jack, the solution is simple fast and easy, so the staff will probably not mind this action
    2. Con: This may cause jealousy and issues among the children
    3. Relationship ST: Saves face with the kids who didnt get gifts before and excites them
    4. Relationship LT: Extreme tensions among kids who do and dotn have hats
    5. Venture ST: Tension from the staff thinking jack initially overreacted may last but hopefully fade
    6. Venture LT: mends the relationships with all the children and quietly solves the issue with the staff as long as no one holds a grudge
  3. Jack does nothing and moves on
    1. Pro: The staff will like that he is taking their advice
    2. Con: the children will be sad
    3. Rel. ST: the kids who did not get gifts will resent him
    4. Rel. LT: The kids will definitely forget the problem and go back to respecting him
    5. Ven. ST: The staff will like and respect him more for taking their advice, soothes tensions
    6. Ven. LT: The staff will be closer to Jack

Step 5: Seek addtional assistance as necessary

  1. Kenyan gift culture: Kenyan Gift Culture
    1. Guests invited to someone’s home may bring a small gift of appreciation.
    2. Common gifts to give are flowers and tea leaves.
    3. In rural areas of Kenya, coffee, sugar, flour, and maize are usually given. These gifts are presented in a woven bag (‘kiondo’ in Kikuyu). The host will return the bag at the end of the visit after placing gifts for their visitor inside.
    4. It is impolite to return a kiondo empty.
  2. American Gift Culture:  American Culture
    1. If you are invited to a wedding, baby showers, bar mitzvah, or other celebration, it is expected that you will bring a gift. Unless you know the host very well, the gift should be modest in value, about $20.
    2. For a wedding, the bride will have “registered” at one or two local department stores, indicating the items and styling she prefers. You can buy the couple a gift that isn’t listed, but most people buy something listed on the registry. If you buy an item listed on the registry, be sure to tell the store that you are doing this, so that the couple doesn’t receive duplicate gifts. For a baby shower, bring a gift appropriate for a newborn baby. For a bar mitzvah, bring a gift appropriate for a 13-year-old boy. Bar Mitzvah gifts tend to be more formal in nature. For example, a gold-plated Cross pen is quite common. Personalizing the pen by engraving the recipient’s full name will be appreciated.
    3. If you wish to give a gift when you leave to return to your home country, the best gift is something that is unique to your country. It does not need to be especially valuable or rare, just reminiscent of your home. Possibilities include a book about your country, an inexpensive handicraft or piece of art, or something else that reflects your culture. If the children collect coins and stamps, they would be very pleased with a set of your country’s coins or a selection of mint stamps from your country. Items that are common in your country but difficult to find in the USA are also good.
    4. If you owe a debt of deep gratitude to an American host family, a common way of repaying it is to take the family to a form of entertainment, such as a baseball, basketball, or hockey game, the ballet, or to a good restaurant.
    5. When giving gifts to a business acquaintance, do not give anything of a personal nature, especially to a woman. Do not give cosmetics. A scarf is ok, but other types of clothing are not. Something appropriate for the office is the best. But gift-giving is not as important in America as it is in other countries, so there is nothing wrong with not giving a gift.
    6. If you need help selecting a gift, talk to a salesperson at a department store. Tell them about the person who will be receiving the gift and the reason for the gift, and they will help you find something appropriate and within your budget.

Step 6: Best course of action

The best course of action is to do nothing and move on from the situation. The staff will know what the best course of action in this situation is because they have much more experience with this area than Jack does. It may come across as disrespectful if he goes against their word and tries to create a new solution and potentially appear as a children’s rights activist to the staff at the center. 


Step 7: Sequences of action to implement solution

  1. Jack should approach the members of the staff and apologize for potentially overreacting about the gift situation
  2. Reiterate to them that he wishes to be able to help the children as much as possible, but that he also respects the experience of the staff members and will follow their counsel.
  3. Try to find other ways to engage the children that will build his reputation with them in a way that does not cause tension with the center.

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