Evaluation: More than just data and analysis

“Your assumptions are your windows to the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won't come in.”― Isaac Asimov

A very warm welcome to all my readers! I decided to make this months blog about how being an Evaluator has further strengthened my ability to be flexible, to excel in any environment, and to connect with people of diverse backgrounds and cultures.

I have been involved in evaluation for 4 years, including 2 years as an evaluation and research consultant. As a consultant, I have helped evaluate programs for NGOs, private sector, government, educational institutions, and local and international organizations. I have worked in different areas including public health, school violence prevention, health and sanitation, child rights, decentralization, youth, recreation, local food and agriculture, and organizational assessments. I learned very early on that in order to conduct evaluations in different realms successfully, I had to a) keep and open mind and learn about areas I did not have expertise in (such as local food and agriculture!) and b) be willing to learn new material quickly. In fact, it is not uncommon for me to spend many weekends learning about a particular area…such as mining certification! You really do have to be a jack of all trades!

I got to work in a lot of interesting places where I had got the opportunity to connect with people from various cultures and backgrounds. From speaking and working with the First Nations youth in the Arctic, academic staff in the Yukon, children, teachers, government staff, and community members in Sri Lanka and Indonesia, I learned that there was one thing that made me connect with them- respect. I showed respect to not only them but to their culture and traditions. This helped create an open and a positive environment that was based on trust and respect. Individuals were able to open up to me more and discuss their views on the program I was evaluating, allowing me to collect quality data through meaningful conversations.

My personal website: http://www.inemchahal.com

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