Mar. 2008

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Arun Sua s’dei,

 

Woooo hooooo…. Spring is here or just around the corner anyway. I’ve heard that Easter in the bay area was pretty spectacular and that the east coast is pulling through the snows. Here, Spring means that we move from 32 degree to 36 degrees celsius. Oh, and we start getting some pretty amazing lightening and thunder storms with down pours that make you consider wearing a holster with a snorkel.

 

March had the usual variety of adventures, but one of the more interesting ones was learning how to incorporate temporary power outages into a lesson plan (we have a back up generator, so the regular evening blackouts only last about 5 minutes.). I discovered that, as we sit in the dark, shining my pen light at things around the room or that I’ve written on the whiteboard works great for teaching this, that, these, and those. We also do a mini theater with two people getting up to run a dialogue in the pen/spotlight, and always to great applause or many laughs anyway.

March is also a time for games. It’s amazing to see the number of games that are created and played without any kind of real equipment. They play a fun version of Duck-Duck-Goose called Pungroat Konkramom; with everyone standing in a circle holding hands. Two people start off walking around the circle and then tap another two holding hands. It then turns into a race with both couples running in opposite directions around the circle to see who can get back to the open space in the circle first. Yes, you get a little sweaty playing this one. Actually, you get sweat just watching as well. There’s another game called Suk’kuong with a giant grid drawn in the dirt or gravel. One group runs on the lines of the grid and another few are in the squares. The group running the lines have to make it to the opposite end of the grid and back without being tagged. There is lots screaming and laughing with this one. The other game I just learning is Chou OngKunh. It is definitely seasonal because it requires the seeds/pits from a fruit. The seeds are the size and general shape of a hockey puck. This is a boys against the girls game. You stand three seeds on edge about 20 meters apart and pitch more seeds at them, of course trying to knock the three down. The kicker with this one is that if your team knocks down two, but the other team knocks down all three. Well, then they get to take a couple seeds in their hand and knock you in the kneecap with them. Chou OngKunh may send to you home with a few bruises, but it’s exciting.

On a very different note, inflation/prices here are getting a little out of hand. A ton of rice which last month cost $500 is now pushing $1200-$1500 making it a great challenge for people in the provinces to afford a staple item in their diet. This of course has also created a challenge for the caregivers at our orphan homes as well. Gas prices here have also shot up by about 25% putting them at about $3.50 a gallon; not easy for anyone especially the motorcycle taxi drivers who only make about $5 a day (I spend about $60 a month just to get back and forth between home and the Center/School, and my Tico is the smaller brother to a Mini Cooper). This year is an election year here and just like the states, it puts a little “excitement” in the air – not quite as many balloons or as much ticker tape, though. The hope is that prices will mellow after the elections which will be in July.

What’s up with the EVT (English and Vocational Training) program:

Very exciting! I just exchanged emails with Jessica Thompson, a friend and jewelry designer from San Francisco. She’s planning to be here in mid to late May and we are hoping to do our first jewelry design classes. This is awesome because it provides an avenue for putting the kids(young adults) amazing creativity to use, growing their responsibility and self-esteem, as well as producing income. Jessica has been working in this part of the world for a number of years and is an imaginative,and successful designer who will bring both fun and inspiration to our future artists and designers.

Kids’ Library:

Well the walls of the library are painted – rollers were rolling, brushes were brushing and bookshelves were stained (needed to use a pretty heavy duty anti-termite stain so our books don’t become a buffet line). The books have been categorized and inventoried. I had a handful of helpers who were sorting and labeling; and a number who were sitting at each of the piles reading (we will call them inventory control inspectors). We also have 3 people lined up who will be our librarians, and who are fantastic English speakers to boot. So, we are hoping to have a daily “story hour” for the kids where they can hear a story in English, but also with a Khmer translation. You know Clifford the big red dog – goes Cambodian.

That’s it for now. Hope you are having fun and enjoying your Spring adventures.


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