June 2008

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Arun Sua s’dei,

Is June over already? How did that happen? So many events and activities; I’d love to hit rewind and be able to see it again. The first week of June was dedicated to putting the final touches on our library, and then opening the doors on June 9th. Fun! Fun! Fun! The library has become a destination, whether it is to read or research, study or hear hear a story read, have a quiet chat or play ‘Shoots and Ladders’ – it’s a happenin’ spot. Crystal has started some impromptu classes with a few kids who come regularly after lunch to read through a couple verses, or a short book and then discuss new vocabulary and the gist of the story. Sithan our veterinary student spends time each day between her other jobs as a Caregiver and office manager at the Center to study up for her classes. On a funny side note, our sign asking everyone to please: enjoy food outside, remove your shoes when you enter, and to care for the books is working nicely. Crystal mentioned last week that she smiled as she watched Vayuh, who was snacking on some dry ramen noodles, be marched by Srey Sore and Srey Rong over to the sign where they sternly pointed out the ‘no food’ rule and then escorted him to the door. All three of the kids are just seven years old. Gotta love it. Akun Charan!-Thank you

June also began with preparations for a six-week teacher training course, which started on June 9th as well. I have 12 Cambodian students in from the provinces, who are the English teachers in the orphan homes where they live, and 5 students from the Center. We are covering teaching techniques for everything from pronunciation to punctuation. Oh, but we are throwing in some adventures in Phnom Penh too. You can only deal with so many gerunds and infinities before you need a good banana split. For a first outing we went to explore a new department store called Sovana. It was an experience that reminded me of how many things I take for granted. Phearak and Samuel, who are approaching 20 years old, had never seen or ridden and escalator. And Sokha, who is 36, leaned over his hot fudge sundae with a big grin to tell me that it was the first time in his life to eat ice cream. We also discovered the game center and had a couple very lively rounds of Air Hockey, as well as some hair raising video auto-racing. It was a day to remember.

We are now in the countdown to elections here and the law is that campaigning can only be done during the 30 days prior to the day of elections. A little different than the States where campaigning seems to start…. when?… maybe a year and half before people actually go to the polls. Anyway, it’s fun to see the pick-ups and flatbed trucks loaded up with supporters sporting baseball hats, and T-shirts, waving banners displaying their party’s insignia. Gotta say the emblems are a lot more interesting than an elephant or donkey.

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

At the moment, we are working on some T-shirt designs to take to the printer. I would love to start printing our own shirts, but maybe we have to put that one on the side for a bit. The teams that come through the Center and then head out to the Homes to work often buy shirts and the silk scarves or kromas that we produce. Soon, they will also have purchase options for jewelry and an expanding line of very cool T-shirts.

Kids’ Library:

It’s in full swing that’s all I can say. I picked up another big bookshelf which will be much needed and full very soon. I got word that our 700+ pounds of books have reach the port here and may be approaching the Center in just a few days. Definitely have to start putting together an invitation list for our “catagorizing, labeling, and shelving” party that we will need to have in order to get the new books in some kind of organized manner.

Things learned:

Last weekend, I went to yet another wedding. Always fun and interesting, but this time I actually discovered the first food/drink that I refused to try. At each of the tables they had the usual assortment of soft drinks and beer, but this time they also had Johnny Walker – Red Label. Maybe not bad by itself, but they were mixing it with Green Fanta (Fruit Punch) and it didn’t actually stir-up. It keep a kind of fifty-fifty split between the reddish brown of the whiskey and the ‘day glow’ green of the Fanta. Very festive, but I almost couldn’t even look at it, let alone think about drinking it. So, I just stuck with my Anchor beer. A good safe bet.

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