Sunday, March 13, 2011

Where am I and what happened to the time?

I have four months left at site. It seems like enough time to do some serious work but when you take out the month of April (traveling to Indonesia and we have the entire month off from school)- and considering there are 5 days of national holidays the next month (King’s birthday (5/13, 5/14, 5/15), Buddha’s birthday (5/17), and the National Plowing ceremony (5/21))- May is pretty much shot too. This leaves me with two months to do everything I had hoped to do before my service ends. These things include finishing up the school’s library, spending time working for an NGO in Svay Rieng town, and putting together a camp GLOW with the other volunteers in my province.

Camp GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) is well under way!!! We are hosting it the last weekend of March (Mar 25th – 27th) in the provincial town. It is being made possible through a Small Projects Assistance grant from USAID. My counterpart, Soksara (a nurse from the local health center), and I will be doing two sessions and one activity. Our sessions will be on female body awareness and HIV/Aids. For our activity we will be showing the movie “Palace of Dreams”, a movie produced by the BBC, and made in Cambodia, that confronts HIV through a culturally-appropriate soap opera-like script. I thought it was pretty good and when I showed it to my host sisters they seemed to really like it as well:)

For Peace Corps’ 50th anniversary, 50 Peace Corps Cambodia volunteers were given $50 to do something in their community to commemorate it. In Romeas Hek, we will be having a “Clean Up the Library Party” at the high school. I don’t really know what will go into the party yet – only that there will be food, music, and lots of book organizing. The party is set for May 7th.

In June, I am looking forward to having an “externship” with CCPCR (Cambodian Center for the Protection of Children's Rights). My role there is not so definitive. I’ll be teaching English sometimes, and doing some basic health classes, but mostly just getting to know the girls and spending time helping wherever I can. The caveat is that I will need to move to the provincial town in order to work there and I’ll need to find a place to stay for nearly a month.

Most of my time these last few weeks has been spent working in the library and getting things together for Camp GLOW. The map of the world is pretty much done and, with a few applications of paint, the map of Cambodia will be as well. I have been so busy, actually, that I didn’t even notice that another barang (foreigner) moved into town and opened up a restaurant. My students were the first to tell me and then, as I was biking past it one day, I noticed it had a full bar with liquors unheard of in our rural part of the province (Malibu?! Bombay Gin!?). I figured I needed to check this place out (and the fact that my students had also told me that they have pizza there was an additional incentive). So today, when I met my Camp GLOW counterpart and my co-teacher for a meeting at their restaurant, I saw right on their menu, in ENGLISH, was about ten different types of pizza. I was blown away. Our provincial town doesn’t even have western food– yet Romeas Hek does?? And not only do they have pizza but they have chicken strips and fries, spaghetti, pancakes, and real sandwiches!

What happened to my rural site? The dirt track is now a paved national highway; there is now a factory here that employs hundreds of people; a guesthouse with a pool; and now this, a restaurant that beats any in the provincial town! The site I came two nearly two years ago has morphed into something completely different and I am worried that when or if I visit in the future that it will be a completely different place.

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