During class this week, we were presented with a case study about an American student trying to maintain relationships with two different groups. Jack, an American student, is working at a youth center in Kenya for 5 months. There was an event where the children were given gifts, but four children were excluded from receiving these gifts and were only given a black hat each after the ceremony. The children who were excluded blame Jack for the slight against them. When Jack brought this problem up to the staff they did not understand that there was a problem and told him that he could fix it on his own.
The problem Jack is facing is that he has to work at the youth center for the next 5 months. Some of the children are angry with Jack and could hold a grudge, but if he goes out his way to help them, the youth center workers could get mad as they believe he is exacerbating a nonexistent problem. The next steps that Jack takes are very important.
There are three immediate stakeholders in this case study. Jack, the youth center employees and the kids. Some of the stakeholders have both personal and professional motivations. Jack wants to help the kids as much as possible and and have everyone see him in a positive light. He also wants to maintain relationships with the staff though. The youth center employees do not see a problem in the gift exchange and do not view it as being unfair. They might not believe that this a problem that is worth dealing with. Personally, the youth workers probably want the best for the kids, but believe that there are probably bigger problems that need to be dealt with. On a professional level, the youth workers probably do not want to be criticized by some American student who is only going to be there for five months while they have been working there for many years. The kids are motivated by social pressure. The kids who were given the hat as a gift instead of a toy want to feel that they are equal to the other kids and want to try to avoid getting picked on.
The three solutions that we thought of for this problems are:
- Give the four children who did not originally get a gift the same toy as the other kids.
- Give the excluded kids some type of leadership role in a public setting in order to give them social value to the other kids.
- Work in collaboration with the youth center workers in order to educate them about the problem and then plan something small but nice for the four kids who were left out.
The first solution, to give the excluded children toys, has pros and cons. The pros are that there is equality and each child is given the same toy. If the new toys are presented in a public setting as well, then there is no difference in what is received and how it was received. The cons to this plan is that the other kids might get mad that some children received both a toy and a hat while they only received a toy and then the cycle starts all over again. The youth center workers might also get mad that Jack went behind their back to solve this problem. This could have good and bad implications on his relationships. The kids could be happy with the gifts received and move on or they could continue to be angry. It would show that Jack cares about the kids which could help in the future. If the center worker approve of Jack’s plan, then they might appreciate his work, but if they feel insulted his relationship for the rest of the 5 months could be awful.The long term affects of this plan is that the kids could see that Jack cares for them and this would make his research easier. The short term affect is that some kids and workers might not like Jack.
The pros for the second solution are the kids could feel equal again and it could show the workers that Jack listened to them. The cons is that kids might get upset that they did not receive a leadership role. The original four kids might also only care about the gifts and could still be upset. This decision could impact the relationship with the kids because this gesture would show that Jack cares for these kids, but it might also make the rest of the kids feel less important. The long term affects of this decision could make it easier to deal with a similar situation in the future if it ever arises again. In the short term, the workers might be angry with Jack because they did not believe there was a problem to begin with.
The pros of the final option are that the workers will not feel like Jack went behind their backs, it would teach the workers how to better deal with these situations, and the 4 excluded kids feel valued by both Jack and the workers. The cons are that the kids might get mad they others get and extra “event” and the youth workers might not appreciate Jack lecturing them. In the long term, the workers and kids will have a better appreciation for Jack and could make the 5 months much better. In the short term, the kids will feel important but the other kids will be jealous.
In order to decide, my group agreed on a point that helped us choose our best option: most people care about social standing more than the monetary value of things. This is why I personally believe that the best option is to give the kids a leading role to boost their social standing. This could be implemented by selecting a simple activity that all the kids love and allowing those 4 kids to lead it.