Jargon Balls…

Wednesday 11th February 2009

Hello there my lovelies,

Yes, that’s right, it is indeed time for another exciting installment of Maya’s life – hope you’re ready for it!

Let’s see, where to begin….. well, my friend Dee took me to a beginner’s tango class with her last week, which I actually really enjoyed (it’s fairly slow to start with, so I found it easier to learn the steps!). Dee was away this week, so I dragged my flatmate Misiri along with me instead, and she loves it too. Also I’m proud to say that after only my second class, the teacher said I was good enough to stay on with the advanced group! I learned the salida and the ocho and I am tres chuffed!

Also this week there was a vintage fair at the student union, where I bought some gorgeous jewellry and a fabulous 70’s nylon dress, which you’ll soon be getting pictures of!

School continues at a very fast pace with all sorts of dramas along the way (naturally). Having almost completely confirmed my placement in Sudan with an NGO called CHF, I got an email from FAO (UN) out of the blue telling me they have gotten me security clearance to go with them! All a bit of a nightmare, as I seem to have accidentally double-booked myself, but it’s almost all fixed now – hopefully!

So, the advanced tango class want me, and CHF and FAO want me – clearly I’m very desirable!

In other news, we have started a new module this week – “Practical Financial Management for NGO’s”. Sounds thrilling doesn’t it?
However, it’s surprisingly good! It’s a 4 week training course run by MANGO, a group who specialise in NGO financial management training, and they are really good. Their tagline is “taking the fear out of finance”, and it’s geared towards people who work in the field and don’t know much about finance.
They completely won me over on the first day – we came into class on Monday morning, and they had some lovely west African music playing, and on each desk we had a manual, workbook, and loads of free stuff! I got a MANGO pen, a calculator, and a notepad – I’m such a sucker for free stuff!
Also they gave us each an orange foam stress ball ( a “jargon” ball), and said any time they used any acronyms or financial jargon and didn’t explain what it meant then we should throw the balls at them! It was really fun, although suffice to say that despite being a class full of mature masters students, when given a bunch of foam balls the room quickly descended into something resembling kindergarten at breaktime!

So, I am now surprisingly comfortable using words like “budget” and “cost centers” and “internal control” and even “accruals”, although it took me a while to get my head around that one! I’m still not entirely sure what “imprest” means, but I like the sound of it, and may start trying to use it in sentences more often! We have also been busy re-learning English, as words like “cash” in the phrase “cash accounting” can also include cheques and debits, and “receipt” can mean all sorts of things, like the bit of paper you get when you buy something, or money coming into your account – crazy! 🙂
So, turns out accounting isn’t so scary, and we even had a go in our workbooks, totalling up the petty cash, transferring it into our cashbook and general ledgers, then reconciling it with the bank statements and commitments – it’s like, totally awesome.

Anyhoo, enough about the thrilling world of accountancy – we have to do a financial risk assessment case study next week, and then create a budget, by which time I may be curled up in a small ball mumbling “external audit…..procurement policies…..separation of duties……unggh”

I am also busy writing a full fundraising proposal for an assessment which has to include an imaginary project which I have now created, complete with it’s own GANTT chart and LogFrame (bet you all wish you had jargon balls to throw at me now!). I have also prepared a presentation for tomorrow’s class on corruption in the sector, and the ethics committee liked my research proposal – I have to make a few small changes, but I essentially got the green light from them to go ahead with my research – so yay!

Basically, I’m a very busy little bee at the moment, but still loving the course, and enjoying Liverpool a lot – I finally managed to go to a few museums last week too. I saw the International Slavery Museum, which was ok, but frankly not very international, and mostly about Liverpool. I also went to the Tate Liverpool, which was awesome – a whole exhibition of William Blake, plus a 20th Century art exhibition full of Degas, Cezanne, Matisse, Picasso, Dali, Warhol and loads of other great stuff.

All in all, I’m doing pretty well, and have also recently discovered Neighbours On Demand on the internet, so I can satisfy my soap addiction by watching an entire month of Neighbours in one go! Brilliant!

I hope you’re all well, and have a great Valentine’s Day. I am heading down to Brighton at the weekend, to visit my friend O, who I haven’t seen for YEARS! We are planning to get dressed up and hit the town for Valentine’s day and generally enjoy ourselves a lot. Plus it’s an excuse to wear my fabulous new vintage dress. For those of you who enjoy my slightly odd fashion sense, I can tell you that my new dress is long, circa 1978 and made of stretchy nylon/polyester. It’s also brown with big green and orange flowers on and it smells of grandmothers and I LOVE IT! You’ll just have to appreciate that mental image until I have some pictures to go with it!

that’s it for now,
lots of love to all of you,
Sought-After Maya

p.s. – Am I in fact wearing your granny’s old curtains? Find out next time………..

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