Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Back on the co-operative road

Ken Doleman is one of CCA's Mongolia "veterans".  The CEO of Manitoba's Swan Valley Credit Union served on the 2010 credit union coaching mission to that country and was a featured blogger in last year's The View From Here: Mongolia blog.  Returning to Mongolia for the 2011 mission, Ken is pleased to share his unique perspectives in The View From Here 2011.

Ken Doleman in Mongolia
 It is with a sense of excitement and anticipation that I greeting you once again from the Co-operative Road, as it winds a meaningful route through Mongolia – like a river, bringing new life and hope wherever it goes.

As co-operators we are all travellers on this road. Yet I think of my fellow coaches as more than travelers…   pilgrims perhaps, being mindful of the unique definition: a traveler that is taken seriously.

The words of greeting by Myaga, Executive Director of the Mongolian Cooperative Training and Information Center (MCTIC) at the first meeting with our Mongolian colleagues and friends sums up our welcome and sets the tone for our coaching mission. ‘Even though we are far apart, our hearts and spirits are very close together…   and that is why we are here.’ 

The afternoon brings a much welcome, heartfelt reunion with the credit union I worked with last year in Ulaanbaatar (UB). We visit several members before the debrief on progress from last year`s coaching visit. And the results are extraordinary, giving me goosebumps…

Now let`s be clear, a coach`s role is to stand on the sidelines…   all credit is due to those committed souls who, amidst challenges and uncertainty press on for the benefit of members and their organization. So, it is with a lump in my throat I tell you that their assets are up 40 per cent; loans have increased 36 per cent; nonperforming loans are down 10 per cent; and, net income is up 106 per cent!

The Mongolian horse fiddle, the morin khuur
And the surprises don`t end there. As if in celebration, an hour later we plumb the depths of Mongolian culture at the National Mongolian Song and Dance Ensemble. To hear modern symphony played so expertly on ancient instruments is a feast of the senses. A personal highlight is the soloist - starting on the horse fiddle and breaking into a moving throat singing finale.

Imagine notes like horses moving along the steppe. As the tempo increases, the mournful, soulful sounds of the horse fiddle take flight – like the famed Mongolian eagle, undulating over the plains, rising on the updrafts. Suddenly, the sound transforms utterly – throat singing with low reverberating sounds and a high whistling - separate, yet matched in harmony. In my mind`s eye the low sounds seem to whip into the canyon lands – richly echoing, while the higher sounds seek out the peaks, chasing the setting sun. I am left breathless!

WOW. Welcome back to the land of the endless blue sky…

Today the coaches head out to the far reaches of the country – aimags (provinces) renowned as the place of high Llamas and presidents; and, even as the center of music and philosophy. So, to my fellow coaches I bid you the traditional pilgrim`s farewell of the Bedouins: Be Safe and Well…   Peace, Love and Courage.

-- Ken, Itinerant Coach (and Pilgrim)

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