Course finale -- excitement and sadness
Trip Start Jul 05, 2005
47Trip End ??? ??, 2006
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This past week in Paipa was filled with excitement, a sense of accomplishment and a new name for Scrappy (yeah, that's me). This last week of training included breaking down a basic trial advocacy course...we practiced openings, closings, direct and cross examinations. The participants, both prosecutors and investigators struggled at first, but by the end of the week, Saturday (see...it's not a boondogle!) they were able to put together a good moot court. Some were better than others of course, but overall I was impressed, as I always am, with their dedication and willingness to embrace a completely new system. So, you are probably wondering how I got a new nickname....well, I guess I better tell you what it is first...my nickname according to the participants was La Generala (The General) or Margaret Thacher (I told them that was insulting, but they assured me they were referring to her no nonsense attitude)
Generally, Colombians don't have a good sense of time (just ask my Colombian born sister, Lucy) and they all love to speak at the same time. Then there is the cell phone etiquette or lack there of. Everyone talks on their cell phone all of the time. Doesn't really matter whether there is a lecture going on (granted sometimes they get boring :-)) or whether they are in the middle of answering a question, the cell phone rings and they answer it. Well, that really didn't go over well with me, especially when there were American and Colombian prosecutors who had given up their time to help these new cell phone totting participants. Sooooo, after a couple of warnings, I told them how rude they were and confiscated all cell phones. I knew it was drastic, but I knew I had no choice. There wasn't a revolution, but it came pretty darn close. In fact, a coup was forming and hence, my new nickname was born. I found out later, they saluted me when they saw me and said , "Watch out, there comes La Generala." Dummy me thought they were smiling because they liked me and they were happy, when it was actually the complete opposite. How clueless am I????
So, Saturday came...the day of our moot courts
As the ceremony ended, a Mariachi band entered the room playing wonderful music. One of the participants, David, is the lead singer of the Mariachi band. The prosecutors and the investigators had pooled their money to get the rest of the band to perform and buy us gifts in appreciation for our work. I was almost in tears (okay, sweet, but not as good as the Alex video). Besides the wonderful serande, they bought us each a bottle of local Colombian wine (didn't know there were vinyards in Colombia) and gave us other presents. It was incredible! Never before in my OPDAT courses had a had a send off like that. Guess La Generala wasn't so bad afterall.
I found out later when I was forced to go to the tavern (they really twisted my arm, I was exhausted) with the participants. They all came up to me (before they were hammered) and told me how much they hated me initially and most of all, after I confiscated their cell phones. But, they also told me what a difference I had made in their lives and that I had forced them to look at themselves and really think about what they were about to embark upon in the next few months. They felt ready. They also thanked me for taking their cell phones away and told me that I had restored discipline that was missing. They added that they were forced to face their fears and believe in themselves, because I kept telling them (as did Virna and Tom) that they could do it!!! Nothing was impossible.
One male prosecutor at the Tavern looked at me with tears rolling down his face and said, "thank you for being so demanding, we needed it...you have made us better people and we, I, will never forget you." I was so completely awed by what he said. I felt like I did the first time won a civil rights case. It's spectacular! Then came the bummer.
I found out through one of the prosecutors, actually David, the Mariachi singer, that one of the other participants/prosecutors, C's nanny had been kidnaped two days earlier