After a night of dancing, eating, and generally hanging out, and then sleeping in traditional, stilted Cambodian homes, we enjoyed day two, which was arguably as busy as the first. The day started out with a hearty breakfast of rice porridge before we listened to the eco-tourist representative tell us about the history of the village and the eco-resort. Following, we all planted trees (one per person) out of respect for the space. I buried a poem with mine, though I don’t know if that picture turned out. We then walked to a majestic waterfall, stumbled across a roaming bard who sang us songs (yes, seriously), and then proceeded to write and eat and climb on the rocks in the area. The day closed with a period of writing back at the main entrance to the trails, where everyone wrote poems and then read them out loud. It was a fantastic experience being around such creative energies, and despite my constant fatigue during the trip, I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
After the first morning in Chambork, we first spent our time doing some team-building, and then proceeded to go about teaching students and then relaxing at a homestay in the village. The teaching was divided among genres: poetry, songs, and stories, though everyone pretty much got the same general education. The students clearly knew the basics (being in primary school but taught in a daily regiment), though were inspired to learn more. Though I did not provide much in the way of teaching (since all the teaching was in Khmer), I enjoyed visiting a little library that was built out of bamboo only a couple of months earlier.
Last weekend there was a great opportunity to help teach a writing course on transit and movement to a group of nearly 33 writers. We went from Phnom Penh to an eco-resort in this area called Chambork, which is near Kirirom and on the road to the Cambodian coast. The experience was breathtaking and enlivening as I didn’t know what to expect. The only trouble was lacking caffeine, as I had developed quite the habit for coffee in the days leading up to the event. I was also extremely tired from lack of sleep, which turned an already surreal Cambodian experience into a series of flashes and scenes. The experience was entirely worth it, even if my own educator capabilities were thwarted and turned on their heels by many different negative factors. First we start with the bus trip, which started around six in the morning. Me and Randa, a brilliant writer who’s also studying law:
The final day was fairly lax before we headed back to Phnom Penh, though it was the day of my presentation. First, some street scenes on our usual walk, including a lovely crane:
With one and a half days behind us, we decided to close the night out with another trip to the beach. I really, really wanted to get some reading done, but the thing about the Sihanouk beaches: they’re so nice you don’t want to do anything. And so no reading for me. Just clicking. Friends Phally and Soknea joined the rest of us in this part of the adventure. First, Penhleak hiding in this tree-like structure:
Though I had just been in Kampong Som with Suzanne a couple weeks prior, an opportunity presented itself through my internship at ODC to spend another three days there. The BarCamp conference series had its 2013 Sihanoukville instance at Build Bright University. BarCamp is a delightfully inspiring event series that encourages people of all ages (but primarily youth) to engage in discourse on many topics (but primarily technology). Overall, it was a delightful and only slightly-exhausting trip, as most of the activities were team-building. I got to help my ODC friends Penhleak, Kalyan, and Eric in being present and representing the project. In the case of Kalyan, he finished a presentation on Google Maps early and I was able to do an impromptu conversation on Map Maker. I also got to present on libraries, which was extremely fun. There were also some other shenanigans you’ll see over the next couple of posts. Let’s start with the bus trip from Phnom Penh to Kampong Som.
Earlier this month, during one of the final days of Suzanne’s visit, I had the opportunity to attend the annual book fair held at the National Library in Phnom Penh. Though it was a three-day-long event, I was only able to show up for the final day. I actually was able to present on digital libraries (for ODC) to an audience of nearly 50 people (estimated). The event was delightful, and I took many pictures to capture the congregation-like feel of the day and its participants.