Excerpts from my second Red Cross Report

Work in Cambodia
My tasks within S.C.A.O. have slightly changed. Before Leon and me didn’t really split the tasks and both of us were just doing everything that needed to be done at certain times. Now that our tasks have been split I’m responsible for all administrative tasks within S.C.A.O and working closely together with our director, Mr. Sameth. All tasks have been split into so-called “teams” at the S.C.A.O. Center. Leon is the team leader of Education and I’m the team leader of Administration. In addition we have a team leader of the family and the kids, which is Aleix from Spain.
So now I answer all emails from the information account and the emails from the volunteering account. I also do the volunteer planning and work together with our partner organization AIESEC in sending over new volunteers. […]
I still teach, however not that much. The only class that I’ve never given up for anyone else to teach is my Pre-Intermediate class from 5.30 to 6.30. This class has been taught by me for six months already. It is wonderful to see their progress and do more and more content focused projects with them. At the end of January I let them work in groups to work on their own presentations about creating a law to improve Cambodia. They enjoyed it a lot and came up with so many great ideas, that I actually hope are going to be used one day, for example ideas on how to prevent domestic violence and saving the Cambodian rainforest. Sometimes I still teach beginner classes, but really only when there are no other volunteers around. […]
Life in Cambodia
At the moment I’m still living at the S.C.A.O. center in Boeng Chhouk. However I’m planning to move out the end of April, and move into an apartment in Phnom Penh together with Emilly.
Life at the Center hasn’t really changed a lot, except for the fact that I spend a lot of my time in the internet café, since I can’t really concentrate on work when I sit downstairs at the Center having a bunch of kids and some volunteers constantly around me, asking questions or wanting to play. I really enjoy life at the center, but it has beenI really enjoy life at the center, but I’ve realized that I need a quiet surrounding to actually get my work done.
[…]
I spend a lot of time with the volunteers from SCAO but I’ve also started hanging out more with Khmer people. For example on Valentine’s Day I met with a bunch of my students and we all spent the day together, walking through Phnom Penh and taking funny pictures. It’s probably not what I would ever do with my friends in Germany, but it is great to be introduced into this aspect of Khmer culture and learn about Cambodian friendships. I’ve also attended the wedding of the sister of a Cambodian friend. For that event I went out and bought traditional Khmer clothes and later had my hair and makeup done together with a friend. Everything was really Khmer Style and it was a lot of fun.
Together with Leon I still attend Khmer classes every day. By now I have started to learn how to write and read Khmer. I’m definitely not as good as I wish I would be, but I know all vowels and consonants now and am able to read and write first, really simple sentences. Learning Khmer writing has also helped me a lot to improve my pronunciation and other than that it is quite fun, since the writing is really beautiful. I do have to start to focus a bit more on vocabulary again, since I’d really like to be able to have deeper conversations that go past “How long do you live here?” and “Where do you work?”.

For the next few months I have a lot to do. In addition to my daily tasks, I need to finish my pieces for the annual report of S.C.A.O. and I also want to film a fundraising video to promote the 3rd school of S.C.A.O.

Regarding my personal life I want to move to Phnom Penh and travel through Vietnam in April, when we have Khmer New Year Holidays.

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things that have been happening

I haven’t really had a lot of time to write on this blog recently so i just want to tell you a little bit about some things that have been happening in my life here and at SCAO. About some of these topics I might write a bit more detailed soon.

1. My family visited me (December & January)

Mid December my mother, her husband and my brother came over for two weeks. I showed them Phnom Penh and SCAO and after that we went to Siem Reap, visited the temples of Angkor Wat, went swimming on the beach in Sihanoukville and ate Seafood and walked through the jungle in Kep and Kampot. We had a great time together and I was so grateful I could spend Christmas and New Years together with them. Plus they brought me a bunch of great stuff from Germany. I already miss them a lot already. And I’ll write more about our travels together as soon as I find some time.

 2. Christmas Celebration at the SCAO Schools (December)

We had two Christmas Celebrations at SCAO. One at SCAO I, where I work, and one at SCAO II. Unfortunately I missed the one out in Sam Roung because I was travelling. But both of them were a blast.

We bought food and drinks for all the children and gave out free toothbrushes and toothpaste to each student as a Christmas present. Afterwards we had a talent show that involved a lot of dancing and singing, played some games and enjoyed each others company. It was great to see all the volunteers, staff and children come together. Even though the spirit of Christmas is not really believed in in Cambodia, it was still a nice reason to celebrate and be grateful for each other.

3. Trip to Sihanoukville with the Center Kids and some volunteers (January)

One weekend in January “Estrellas de Camboya” a partner organisation of SCAO sponsored a trip to the beach in Sihanoukville for all the children living in the Center. When me and some other volunteers heard of it we immediately decided to join them. We left early on a Saturday morning, arrived around noon, spent all day on the beach and had dinner all together. Same procedure the next morning – the kids got up around 6 o’clock just waiting to run to the beach. We spent as long as possible splashing around in the water and riding banana boat until we finally had to go back in the early afternoon. It was a great weekend and a wonderful opportunity for the everyone to see the beach and let go and relax for some time.

4. Weekend on Koh Rong Samloem (January)

I spent a wonderful weekend together with Mira and Svenja, two other German volunteers, on an Island called “Koh Rong Samloem” just off the coast of Sihanoukville. I’ll write about this soon. But for now let me just say, a lot of sleep, beach, snorkeling and fruit shakes.

5. 3D painting workshop at SCAO I (January/February)

At the end of January a former SCAO volunteer, Carl, returned and brought some friends with him. Unfortunately they couldn’t stay for a longer time but during their time here they made a huge 3D dot painting with the students of SCAO I. Please read more about the workshop on Carl’s blog:

http://volunteeringabroadblog.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/dot-painting-in-3d-2/

 

 6. ID Cards for students at SCAO

We have decided to let all the students at both SCAO schools have ID Cards. For this we have been taking pictures of every single student, had everyone fill out an application form in Khmer AND English and collected money from everyone (around 30 cents for one ID card). After all of this was done the real work began. Typing all the names of all students into word documents. Sounds easy, but gets really tricky when you have to type Khmer. Luckily I some of the girls in the Center helped me out and did all the Khmer typing for me – I owe them big time. Soon after we brought the files to the copy shop and today Peter and me picked up the finished prints. Tonight we put all cards into their plastic sleeves and prepared most of the ID cards. Hopefully we’ll be able to hand them out in two days, on Thursday. I can’t wait to see the children receiving their cards and everyone running around with the ID cards around their neck.

7. Spending Valentine’s Day with pals! (obviously February)

This year I spent Valentine’s Day with some of my students and one of the Khmer teachers at SCAO.  We actually had a day off for February 14th, however not because of Valentine’s Day, but because of Meak Bochea, a Buddhist holiday.

We met at the room of Srey Lat (Khmer teacher at SCAO and friend of mine) did our nails, hair and makeup and then went to Phnom Penh. First stop was Wat Phnom, a small temple on top of a tiny hill in the north of the city. We walked around the hill and took a bunch of pictures – with/without sunglasses, hands in the air, peace, smile/serious, etcetera etcetera. Same thing at the riverside and Royal Palace. Afterwards we walked to the independence monument. At first the plan was to do the whole photo shoot thing again at the monument however it was already dark when we got there so we “just” walked there, sat for a while and took some pictures of the monument itself – without us. Even though this is probably not something that I would have done in Germany – or have done the last time in grade 8 – it turned out to be a lot of fun!

8. Improving my Khmer

I have now been studying Khmer for almost 4 months already. Everyday Leon and me come to study at Srey Lat’s place for one hour. In the beginning we concentrated a lot on learning vocabulary and our spoken Khmer. Around December we started to learn how to actually write and read Khmer. Even though we are far from actually writing long sentences and reading whole words, i already do know all the consonants & vowels and am able to write2 or 3 sentences. All of them being similar; I go to the market and buy vegetables and meat. She goes to the market to buy vegetables and meat. Srey Lat and Lilli go to the market and buy vegetables, and so on. Yes, I know, great conversation starter.

So i hope this gave you a quick peek into some things that have been going on recently. I know i’ve said this before, but i will really try to write on here more often.

All the best from Cambodia,

Lilli