Cambodia to Richmond

This week I finished my volunteer work for the summer. I stayed in one classroom at the childcare center for about two weeks and became more familiar with the kids and staff. There are a few stories I would like to tell about the kids, but I know the PHSC rightfully tries to protect vulnerable populations – like children, so I will refrain from doing so. I can say, however, that my headaches were eased by childish humor.

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Leaving Phnom Penh

My last day in Phnom Penh was eventful. I got up early to ride across the city on the back of a moped taxi – a motodup, to my first interview. The interview was with the director of an organization that, among other things, holds dialogues between former members of the Khmer Rouge and Buddhist monks. The interview went well, and I was able to finish it in time to squeeze in lunch before my next one. The next one was with the director of an organization that works in areas such as water sanitation. I was lucky to schedule interviews with NGOs working in a variety of areas, including development, education, and community dialogues and reconciliation.

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wrapping up Cambodia

My first two entries were short and diluted; perhaps a product of feeling overwhelmed or frustrated with my progress. These feelings have almost disappeared entirely, however, as I have become more accustomed to the culture of processes and communication in Cambodia. When volunteering and interviewing, it has been vital that I tread softly to adhere to the subtleties of Khmer culture, giving each individual his due respect and following all the correct channels of communication. It may take a longer to accomplish a task in this manner, but it ensures that everyone saves face and relationships are kept in tact.

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Next Few Days Around Phnom Penh

The organization for which I am volunteering held their quarterly staff meeting this week. I feel the meeting will prove to be a good indication of how the organization operates – with good purpose but without decisiveness. After struggling through this half-English, half-Khmer indecisiveness, I was rewarded with a sort of barbeque. The barbeque introduced me to the Cambodian staff, as well as an assortment of new fruits – both important introductions in my relationship with Khmer culture.

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First Few Days in Phnom Penh

This is a blog about my experience in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and Richmond, Virginia. I am volunteering for non-governmental organizations in these two cities to better understand the NGO-state relationship in different regions of the world. My research will be mostly about how NGOs perceive their relationship with government, because without hearing from government entities I cannot assume fact or fiction. In reality, however, perception is all that matters, as individual perception –while dynamic, is fact to the one who perceives. This blog is about how I perceive the events of my travels and research, and would be unrecognizable if told by an objective narrator.

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