Aug. 2009

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Arun Sua s’dei,


Hope you had a great August and were able to get in a few last barbecues, hikes, or naps in the sun. In August I had the word (or syllable) ‘..cher’ ringing in my ears. It’s actually my nickname here and it’s the second half to the word teacher and not Sonny Bono’s former second half. Anyway, August from start to finish was all ‘Teacher Training Conference -2009’ and I had twenty very fun Cambodian students in from ten different provinces. Each one is the English teacher for the kids in their particular orphan home and they ranged in age from 15 to 52. Yes that’s right. And we had six girls and fourteen boys…or uh… men and many were first time teachers. It was awesome. We started each day at 8:30 and together cooked up lesson planning and classroom management techniques seasoned with countless laughs and games. We wrapped things up at 11:30 for lunch and then kicked off again from 1:30 to 4:30 for teaching practice. You have to see the pictures. These guys had the most enthusiasm and inventive games, we always had to take a break somewhere in there just to catch our breath.


It was a month long course and we needed to get out and explore Phnom Penh a little so on the second Friday we hit Sovanna Shopping Mall; the latest and greatest in Phnom Penh shopping experiences. Wide eyes and wide grins were the main feature. Wide eyes when each one approached and stepped on to an escalator for the first time in their lives. Wide grins when they saw the towering glass of ice cream goodness that the waitress placed in front of them at Swensens. And both wide eyes and grins when the lights flashed and bells rang as they played each game in the arcade.


Then it was back to the whiteboard for two more weeks of learning and laughs. By the end, the students were writing detailed lesson plans, creating needed materials, and utilizing a variety of teaching techniques as they delivered their lessons. That said, we need another outing and we headed to the Royal Palace for some Cambodian history and then it was time for pizza, pizza, pizza at… yes… Pizza Company. Twenty-two around one long table and ten large deep dish pizza with every topping from sausage to shrimp. A few facts: 21 people had never had pizza before, 20 loved it, 1 had trouble with all the cheese, 21 added ketchup, and 1 added a ton of salt (but he thought it was sugar). I never thought of pizza as a dessert or needing sugar, but I may try it next time. Very Very Fun!


I am excited to see them grow in their confidence as both English speakers and English teachers. And I can’t wait to visit their church/orphan Homes and see them in teaching-action with their students. No doubt the laughs and learning will abound as they did during our conference.


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

Can you say “Machine”? And I mean that not as some object or appliance, but as a group of young women (and now one young man, Kosal. Wooo Hooo…) who are working together in smooth, effective precision. I thought with the teaching conference going on that I would get a chance to sit down at least on Saturdays, but no. Our two manager Charvy and SreyNeang had me off to the market purchasing more materials. Not that they can’t buy it on their own, but I think they just like having a porter too. Okay, I’ll carry the forty-five meters of material etc. I say that with a huge smile.


Now, we aren’t just going shopping because the girls are sewing so fast, which they are because in the month of August they completed exactly 100 bags. But in the month we also sold more than 70 of those bags. Okay, so August is our high season and things may mellow in the Fall, I am still excited and very impressed. They have also finished a new line of bags using the traditional hill-tribe clothe that we brought back from Ratanakiri during the medical clinic. And, I like ’em!


This month we were also able to add the ‘over-lock’ machine to our sewing room which will help us to expedite and expand our line. We haven’t picked up that other traditional sewing machine just yet because we need space and are considering moving to a different building here at the Center. As they say here ‘madong muy madong muy’ or step-by-step.


Kids’ Library:

As part of finishing up the teaching conference, the English teacher were each very happy to receive one of the ‘mini’ libraries to take back to their home with them. Each library has over a 100 books and covers a wide range of reading levels. They also include English/Khmer dictionaries and additional teaching supplies. So, literally hundreds of happy kids are now getting to know Clifford and Dr. Seuss as well as the world through all the beautiful picture books. Thank you for your help in this.


Things learned:


1. I think termites must have their own mini power tools because they can not only work fast

but be wildly noisy.

2. If your armoire doesn’t quite make the turn in your staircase, try turning it upside down.

3. When your car makes a few funny noises just drive through a few more mud puddles and

those sqeeks or rattles will all go away. ‘Mud puddle maintainance’



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