welcome weekend and workshop week

As ever, please note the VSO disclaimer accessible by clicking on the link above.

I had a really nice visit from Gilly and Sam last weekend – it was good to catch up with them, and to see PP through their eyes……and also to play the ‘rich relation’.

They came down for the VSO ‘welcome party’ for all the new volunteers (yes that includes me even although I am almost half way) – the batches who arrived in Sept and October – the October lot have now had their Kg Cham training and are due to start work on Monday coming.  It was a nice event, after whcih we headed down to the Equinox bar to catch the end of another set by Mekong Pirates.  The venue was not so good for a big band, but it was still an exciting set and a good way to end the evening – however we stayed on much later and did not get back till 2 (so far my latest night out in PP. .. !), but I still woke at 6.  Someone should have told the neighbours.

There are some good photos on their blog (access through the link in the sidebar).

I really enjoyed our visit to the National Museum, which has lots of sculptures and inscribed stones from different historical era, mainly the Angkorean period, but not much too recent.  There was a really interesting computer virtualisation of life in and around Angkor in 1200 AD.   Although the computer graphics would not pass muster in any graduate animation school, the visual images gave a very clear picture of the living environment.  Isn’t there some famous saying about pictures and words?

I also was particularly taken with Mr Toilet Public, the Korean philanthropist who is spending his money to put public toilets where none exist… and yes, if you click on the photo and read what the plaque says, there does appear to be a World Toilet Association.  It’s a great idea!

Mr Toilet Public: Gilly and Sam photograph the dedication stone

I hadn’t noticed this before as there was construction work going on.  Cambodian men seem happy to do without such a facility.   For example, on one of my bus trips, the guy in front of me got up and went forward to ask the driver to stop – when he did, this guy was followed out of the bus by another dozen guys (including the driver) who proceeded to relieve themselves at the side of the road.  Thankfully they did at least turn their backs to the bus.  I declined the opportunity and crossed my legs a bit tighter.  I’m not quite sure how Cambodia women manage but I think one public toilet is not going to cut it.   It is built beneath an new PP tourist centre on the river with a rather classy looking riverside cafe behind.   This is one of many venues which I am thinking of taking Joan to when she comes out – I think we will need about 3 months.

This week Or Siem (the Depute Director whose office I share) and I were at last able to put on the workshop which was planned for late October – this was Or Siem’s plan to get people from other Departments involved in editing the classroom lesson video material which had been filmed earlier this year to make a staff development resource, with all the departments feeling some ‘ownership’ of the final product, and so more likely to use it.

Everything I had been told about workshops here came true.  Reaksmey ( an ‘on the ball’ young Cambodian guy who works at the Open Institute and is the technical guru behind the scenes) and I had prepared in the expectation that all 30 or so of those invited would attend and that the same people would appear every day (it was planned as a five day event).   In fact we had an attendance averaging 10 per day, not all the same people and few of those invited.   In addition people left or came in randomly during the course of the day, answered their phones at crucial moments (including one participant who was haranguing the group about something when his phone went off – he stopped mid-sentence, had a conversation on the phone and then restarted haranguing where he had left off!) and generally and frequently missed the point.  Cultural differences are wonderful.    However despite various hitches and ups and downs, we did get to quite a good place by the end of the week and I think at the very least that I am better prepared for how the video material should be edited, if it is to be of any value in training teachers in college or in-service, through observation of how a random group of Cambodian educators reacted to the material.   There were a few laughs along the way.  I quite enjoyed the routine this week of being in the same place every day, and being able to predict how the day would go.  I will have a bit more time and space to catch up on other projects next week.

While I have been typing this out, I have been listening to Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Hass In the Moment. The beautifully intricate dialogue between cello and fiddle in pieces such as Christina or Willie Fernie has soothed many a difficult moment these past couple of years.  I am eternally grateful to John Wood at Lornshill, who has a great knowledge of Scottish music – both informationally and musically – for putting me in the know about their work.   You can listen to extracts at http://www.musicscotland.com/cd/alasdair-fraser-natalie-haas-in-moment.html

What more could a body ask for musically?

Well see my next blog for the answer to that!

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3 thoughts on “welcome weekend and workshop week

  1. In the name of research for my new job I went to visit our ‘poor relations on the island’ last night and it was just like homestay all over again. Blog post to follow, look out for some highlights from your blog posts in the next issue of the volunteer magazine…

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