September 12

Week #3: Grassroots Diplomacy Strategy Development Methodology – Blog #3 Fall 2021

Grassroots Diplomacy Strategy Development Methodology 

The facts in the situation – 

  1. Jack is an American student at a youth center in Kenya
  2. Jack will be staying for five months and is (presumably) at the beginning of his time there
  3. Gifts for the children were sent by an international donor organization
  4. Jack was asked to give out the gifts
  5. The children believed that Jack had gotten them the gifts
  6. Gifts for 196 of the children were presented publicly, but four children did not receive gifts publicly
  7. The four children that did not receive gifts were given a black hat
  8. The children who received the hats were given to them by the staff members, not by Jack.
  9. Some of the kids blamed Jack for feeling “left out” and one kid gave Jack a nasty look
  10. No one is taking responsibility for the missing gifts
  11. The staff were annoyed at Jack for raising the issue and felt that he might cause problems for them in the future
  12. Jack was left to resolve the problem
  13. Staff is all-Kenyan, and many of them come from similar backgrounds

Define the problem and the stakeholders


  • Four children did not get a gift and no one took responsibility. How could the staff better prepare for distributing donations/gifts to all children in the center? (How can staff do a better job with empathizing with the children?)
  • Four children were left out which made them feel less important than the other children. How can the children be made to feel better?
  • Credit for the gifts in the eyes of the children went to Jack. How could credit for the gifts be made more clear and given to the international organization that sent them?

Stakeholders –

  • Children receiving a box gift
  • Children receiving a black hat
  • Staff at Youth Center
  • Jack
  • International organization that sent gifts

Personal and professional motivations of the stakeholders – 

  • Children 
    • Personal:
      • Desire to receive something valuable
      • Receive public recognition 
      • Feel included
    • Professional: N/A
  • Staff at Youth Center
    • Personal: 
      • Supporting the community and helping the youth
    • Professional: 
      • Desire to be efficient
      • Desire to maintain order through strict rules
  • Jack
    • Personal: 
      • Help the youth center in Kenya 
      • Make the kids feel good (resolve guilt)
    • Professional: 
      • Help him with relationship building with the children at the center
      • Maintain positive relationships with other center staff members
  • International organization that sent gifts (secondary)
    • Personal: N/A
    • Professional: 
      • Raise their reputation/broadening their exposure
      • Assist meet the basic and human needs of children in Kenya

Alternative solutions – 

  1. Facilitate an empathy workshop for the staff – acknowledging the problem and learning how to deal with the situation if it were to happen again


  • Important life skills and way to handle conflict
  • Can make the left out kids feel more special
  • Prevent the problem from recurring


  • Who would lead the workshop? Jack leading the workshop could be perceived as condescending.
  • Who has the time?  There is limited time to pull the staff away to provide the workshop.
  • Could be perceived by the staff as they did something wrong

How does it save face of those involved?

  • This solution would help save face in the future for students that could potentially be left out. The implementation of the workshop could actually “cost” face for the staff since it would address the situation from the perspective that they failed to do something.

Implications on relationships 

  • Short-term – could damage the relationship between Jack and the staff.
  • Long-term – although the initial experience may weaken the relationship, the long-term impact could be the opposite since staff could see the value of the training after they see the impact that better planning that results in avoiding any children feeling “less than the other”.

Implications on the venture 

  • Short-term – the success of the venture is dependent on Jack’s relationship with both groups.  This solution could slow both the relationship and progress that he can make in the youth center.
  • Long-term – similarly to the impact on Jack’s relationship with the staff, the long-term impact on the venture could be a positive effect. The staff would be able to look at similar future situations differently to better ensure a positive experience for all the children.

2. Provide project management training to the staff


  • Further develop the staff’s effort to run an efficient operation


  • Might run into problems with scheduling
  • Might create confusion since it’s not how they have facilitated similar efforts in the past

How does it save face of those involved? 

  • This solution would help save face in the future for students that could potentially be left out. The implementation of the training could actually “cost” face for the staff since it would address the situation from the perspective that they failed to do something.

Implications on relationships 

  • Short-term – could weaken the relationship between Jack and the staff.
  • Long-term – staff may see the benefit of the training after it has been implemented, resulting in valuing Jack’s input and training.

Implications on the venture 

  • Short-term – it could have a negative impact on the venture in the short-term since it could be perceived as insulting and contrary to what the staff perceive as having an OK system.
  • Long-term  – in the long run, the training could be beneficial to the youth center since it would help a staff that prides themselves on running an efficient operation.

3. Teach all the children a lesson on appreciation


  • The children should be appreciative of the gifts given the circumstances
    • “Get what you get and you don’t get upset”
  • Jack may regain his social status among the children
  • Jack would maintain is good standing with the staff for not approaching the dilemma from the perspective that they did something wrong


  • Not very good for the long-term impact because kids could quickly forget and the situation could present itself again
  • Does not change the fact that the “left out” kids did not receive special recognition for their gifts 

How does it save face of those involved? 

  • Without calling out the four children left out, the lesson can help deliver the message of appreciating any gift (no matter how small). The children can save face by not being called out specifically for their reaction to being given a hat instead of a box like the other children.  I will also help the other children save face if they are in the same situation in the future that their four friends experienced.

Implications on relationships 

  • Short-term – it would prevent any damage to his relationship with the staff and could be a way to strengthen his relationship with the children.
  • Long-term – this solution has the potential to strengthen the relationship as time passes since any similar situation in the future could be resolved reminding and emphasizing the importance of appreciating any gift received.

Implications on the venture 

  • Short-term – providing the lesson will allow Jack the opportunity to connect with the children, having a positive impact on the venture
  • Long-term – the lesson would have a positive long-term impact on the venture since it will help children at the center better deal with the situation repeating itself, which has a very high probability it will repeat itself.

Other potential solutions:

  1. Do nothing and let the children move on
  2. Hype up the symbolic value of the hat!
  3. Talk to the kids about the hats in a public forum in order to give them recognition.
  4. Ask the staff to hold another ceremony after dinner the next day in order to give the children the public recognition they missed out on.

Seek additional assistance, as appropriate – 

The group and class discussion provided various insights and solutions for this case. The discussion made it clear that the idea to hype up the hat solution would be one of the best ways to resolve this conflict. It was especially helpful to reflect on recognizing that the “best” solution should be made through the perspective of the Kenyan people.  Many of the solutions offered were from the American perspective on what is socially acceptable and how to correct the situation.

The best course of action – 

Although we identified numerous possible solutions, the best course of action would be the option discussed in class – to somehow elevate the value of the hat by simply wearing it. The four children would feel better about their “simple” gift after seeing that the staff (Jack) is wearing the same hat.  Jack’s simple action helped elevate the significance of the hat without attempting to change the practice of the staff or an explicit lesson to students. His action is an example on how to save face since staff nor students were called out for their behavior or (as in our opinion) lack of response to the situation.

The sequence of “best” actions to implement the solution –

  • Speak with the staff to hear their perspective on the situation – not identifying it as a problem but simply ask them what is the practice for dealing with the situation where some children do not receive donated gift like the other students
  • Honor their advise on what, if any, steps are taken to address the situation
  • After better understanding their norms and practices, consider a similar solution to what was shared in class – as the “guest” in the community, wearing a similar hat will show the four students that were left out in the formal recognition ceremony also feel special.

Posted September 12, 2021 by Yamil Sanchez in category Weekly Blog

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