Arun Sua s’dei,
How’s all you in your neck of the globe? Well, all the mangoes have pretty much been eaten up and we’ve moved on to Jack fruit. If you haven’t seen it before, Jack fruit looks like a giant spiky watermelon. And, as I’ve discovered leaves a startling….aroma in your car if it stays there too long in the sun. Ooooops…. live and learn.
Well, this month was almost entirely devoted to the conference; what an amazing event. It actually started with a the week prior being devoted to a head-to-toe make over of the Center. Walls were painted, flower beds groomed, and gravel raked. Next, tents went up, stages were set, power-lines pulled, and a full sound systems set up. Yes, the mammoth speakers by themselves would have impressed any rock band. Finally the kitchen was prepared; fifteen enormous waks the size of claw-foot tubs were placed over roaring wood burning fires and the kitchen crew got started on the first of over 25,000 meals. (The opening day alone four cows and over one ton of rice were eaten.) Sunday, night the guests and pastors began to arrive from some of the more distant provinces and by Monday night we had over 2,000 in attendance for the four day conference. Each day had guest speakers, great music, traditional dancing, sporting events, and of course more amazing food. Needless to say everyone here in the office has still been spinning a bit eventhough the conference finished a couple days ago. And there is talk of heading to the beach for a day or two of R and R. We’ll see if it happens, as there is always something keeping you on your toes here.
Speaking of on your toes or at least the edge of your seat, I’ve been trying to think of a good analogy for what driving is like here. The only picture I can come up with is that of being a salmon swimming up stream. There are no really lines indicating lanes and the river of traffic always seems to be flowing in the opposite direction you are heading. The larger rocks in the river here, causing any extra white-water, are the slow moving ox carts or enormous dump trucks. Pull out to pass any one of them and you are hit by another flood of on coming motorcycles and Land Cruisers, or a cement truck rolling toward you. By the time you get to your destination you are, many times, ready to be eaten by a bear or just pass out anyway.
On February 23rd, I attended the CamTESOL conference. There were about 1,200 people who came to the conference with 300 or so coming from neighboring countries as well as Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Australia and the US. It was great to exchange ideas and join mini-sessions related to teaching English in Cambodia and Southeast Asia. There were sessions related to opportunities/challenges with bringing technology into the classroom, creating classes with limited resources, managing oversized classes, and introducing the concept of pair and group work. The ambassadors from the Australia and the US spoke, as well as the Cambodian Minister of Education. This was that largest conference held to date in SE Asia. It was also an amazing sign of the recovery of education for this country considering that only 300 teachers remained in all of Cambodia after the devastation of the Khmer Rouge.
What’s up with the EVT (English and Vocational Training) program:
A good chunk of time was devoted to the conference this month, but even so we were able to finish up construction on the walls for the school. Now, we’d just like to get them painted and possibly get the kids’ artistic talents directed toward some murals.
We are looking into grants for the three programs that I wrote about in last month’s newsletter; the art program, Khmer products program, and the School Boxes.
Woo Hoo… we’ve got a couple bookshelves made and we are measuring for some carpet. I hope to have the books categorized soon and ready for an official opening of the library. The kids are sure ready. Sometimes part of the challenge for categorizing is that I would actually have to put the child on the shelf as well because they have such an excited grip on the book they are reading. I know we also have another load of books at Warm Blankets as well as more on the way. It’s awesome. And I can’t thank you all enough.