So after two weeks (twelve mornings – doppii pai.ill preuk ) I must go back to PP to start work. On Monday I have meetings with a UNICEF officer, also working on the Child Friendly Schools initiative (he is called Andrew Jones), a former volunteer now working in PP but whose previous responsibilities included teacher training (to give me some background on the teacher training environment ) then in the afternoon I will meet the Director of the Dept of Curriculum Development to plan my initial period of work. Chea Vantha, the senior local VSO education officer, who has successfully steered some excellent recent developments, will also attend. I hope therefore by Monday evening that I will have a better idea of the work requirements and be able to start thinking about planning. My functional Khmer is quite weak and has quite a few gaps, but I think I have enough of a grasp of some basic grammar/key words to build greater fluency if I work hard at it. I will include two half hours, or one hour, of Khmer learning each day I think.
Kampong Cham has been a great place to relax into life in Cambodia. Although quite busy, and very used to barang (actual meaning = French, but applied by extension to any European), it retains a ‘country town’ feel – nothing is in too much of a hurry and people are quite willing to listen if you are trying to practise your limited Khmer – although that may be because it is so funny, as they usually end up laughing.
This morning I spoke to Thea, who is accompanying Jan from Holland but not working as a volunteer herself. She has five grandchildren in Holland and she told me that she writes e.mails to each of them, telling them about the children in the street, what they are wearing, what the shops are like etc. I think these must be interesting e.mails for them. Thea and Jan are very good ‘sports’. On the second or third day of our course, Jan had a ‘blow out’ which ruptured his inner tube and his tyre. Being Dutch, and having cycled all their lives, Thea happily sat on the back of his bike to travel to school, while it was repaired. I used the photo of this to write a little spoof report on our language learning in Kg Cham for the volunteer magazine which is circulated four times a year.