Thursday, October 14, 2010

FLOOD!! and 50 Years of Peace Corps!

Heavy rains in parts of Cambodia have managed to overflow rivers and lakes to create flooding. Its not an emergency yet, but heavy rains have visited us every night now for over a week. More like over 10 days! Its raining at this very moment while I am typing this!

A house that was flooded. Good thing this house sits on stilts.

My host-nephew, Somethea, riding his bike in the water

This is a bridge over a small river. Its fairly deep, but the water has gotten so high, children are playing in the water.

Another house in my village that has been affected by the rising water from the nearby river.

A boy on his bike crossing a small bridge.

Also, read this page on Peace Corps!

Monday, October 4, 2010

the young, upper middle class of phnom penh

so, i've been at this expat cafe several hours now, mooching off their free super fast internet, and just met a young married khmer couple. they are sitting across from me and i just couldn't help but notice how un-khmer they were. they were very kissy face, very pda! their pda is just so very strange to me. even the way the husband treated his wife was very genial, moreover, respectful. he didn't eat before her, he waited for her and had her take the first bite. so i couldn't but help but ask them if they were married, because they were young looking. i found out that they've been married for 5+ years now with a 5 year old son. he is a custom's officer and she works in business. their son is going to a good private school in the capital, and no doubt will learn english.

this encounter is just so fascinating. while phnom penh has areas that make you wonder, "really, this is the capital?" having social encounters like the one i just mentioned above really makes me believe that cambodia is on its way to developing. i can't say for certain what kind of development it will experience, but withing the next 50 years, this country will experience significant. but of course, its inevitable that any developing country will experience development within a 50 year span.

i just had to mention this because since being here and living out in the provinces, most times it feels almost hopeless. i wonder often, is it possible for khmer people to think about their existence and have a desire to improve their lives.

G.L.O.W., Piped water and America

hey everyone! i'm overdue with my updates but i have a good excuse: i've been busy finishing up summer projects on the cambodian end and i recently returned to the states for a 3-weeks, but i'm back in the 'bode now.

okay, so i finished up the water project at my school. if you weren't aware that i was working on a water project, well catch up here.

camp GLOW was pretty successful, but not without a few bumps along the way. however, Keiko and I were more than satisfied with the camp. in the fewest words possible, the goal of our camp was to help our female students become vehicles of change to improve the future of gender equality in cambodia. the camp addressed the needs of young females in present day cambodia with life skills education and reproductive health training. so, many thanks to our counter parts, pc small grants, school directors, pcvs, trainers, ngos, and our students. photos!

condom demo during the reproductive health portion

the design of our shirt was designed by a fellow pcv, julie k. in takeo province

discussion time

day 1--students filling out a pre-camp survey

Culmination Day

these girls are from my school. the lady in the center is my school's co-director, ms. ngai

Keiko and I trying to form a heart...the camp is FINISHED!!!

the camp was the conclusion of my summer projects. I was then able to relax and enjoy my vacation back in the states. i was suppose to take a lot of photos back home, but i didn't. i'm so retarded.

anyway, i'm back in cambodia now and the school year is about to start. can't wait.


Monday, June 21, 2010

giving alms, housewarming and coconuts!!!

another month has gone by and its nearly july!! approaching my one year mark since i left the are some new photos and accompanying comments:

every culture has a special way of celebrating a housewarming (lang ptdeah in khmer) and in cambodia, food and monks play a big role in the process. so today my host family and i went to the provincial town to celebrate my eldest host brother's newly built home. the day started off with women preparing food and around mid morning, 4 monks arrived to start the blessing of the home. i think the blessing is performed in sanskrit language. after the blessing by the monks, my host mom also blessed her family, all her children (including me) and grandchildren. she is the head of the household.

the new home

women cooking

my host sister cooking vermicelli noodles

monks blessing

my host mom giving blessings
my family is very involved with the wat (pagoda) and my host sisters and host mom participates in all major and small buddhist holidays. giving alms, or 'rabat' in khmer, is a morning ritual where rice, drinks and small goods are given to monks from a local wat. the other day, 20 monks came to my house and my sisters and I, along with 2 yay's (older women) gave each monk a spoonful of cooked rice. the rice they are given in the morning is what they are allowed to eat. monks do not eat at night. also,the ritual is performed shoeless. once we were done giving rice, we sat before them and they said some prayers to bless us. it was all a very quick process. in return for giving alms, i hope to have earned some merit in my current and later life :)

see, no shoes

leftover rice from morning alms
here is a brief blurb on food. while there may be food available here in south asia, not available in the states, i miss food from america immensely. i miss it every second, of every minute of every hour of everyday!!!! SERIOUSLY.

my host sister taking the mature coconut from its outer outer shell

mature coconut

mature coconut with outer shell removed

younger coconut

my friend haeng, shaving coconut with a machine, instead of by hand.

many phases after removing the cocount from its outer layers, you get coconut jello!!! 4 ingredients: sugar, water, coconut and agar agar powder (a powder made from seaweed to turn the liquid into gelatin. vegan!)

coconuts are a wonderful ingredient. this is a coconut milk with mungbean concoction. mung bean is known as "sun-dike kew" in khmer pretty Y-U-M-M-Y

old fashioned shave ice turn the crank

guess what she's cooking in the wok...? see next image

CRICKETS!!! the taste is good, but the texture takes some getting used to...i'll try eating them again at a later time.

the breakfast that built a nation--pork and rice or as the khmer call it "bai saik jruk"

this was made into chicken soup...all parts of the chicken used!! no wasting

oh! my dog gave birth the other morning. the photo isn't very clear, but i will post more when i have better lighting. 6 puppies!

Friday, May 7, 2010

GLOW is underway

hey guys!! i got back from vacation earlier this week. i have photos up on my picasa if anyone is interested. its been a while since i last wrote. but, back to being busy, which is great. being idle here makes me really depressed.

anyway, the purpose of me writing was to let you all know that our CAMP GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) was approved and we will receive funding very soon. It came at a very appropriate time too. strange how things happen...but earlier in class, my 12th grade class was learning about human rights. and there was this section on women's right and the chapter opened up the subject by talking about husbands beating their wives. well, one of my female students said that if her husband beats her, she would tolerate it because she is a wife and he is the husband. I was speechless...all i could say was "no way. don't let your husband hit you" and then asked the boys in the class if they will hit their wives and they all said 'no'. it was rough to hear my student say such things. i got teary. damn. damn. i dunno. the state of female equality is non existent. damn. listening to her speak in her broken english about how its okay for a husband to hit a wife. not cool. not cool.

bye. diana

Thursday, March 25, 2010

the sound of relief...

so its raining today. i've never adored the sound of rain as much as i do today... or rather for the remainder of time i am in cambodia. today is cool with a lot of moisture in the air. its not cold, its just right. the sun isn't beating down on the house or my skin either...

anyway, here are some recent photos from site. a few of the photos are of my home and the others are from the wedding i attended last week. a teacher from my school got married...

also, i will be going on vacation in a couple of weeks for about a month. i will be checking out the north of the cambodia, visiting my training family in takeo, and visiting laos and vietnam. i'll be sure to take photos. enjoy these for now...


This is at the end of the wedding. We are wearing traditional khmer wedding attire. The colors are usually very vibrant. The sampots are made out of silk. Depending on the quality of the silk, a dress can cost anywhere between 25-65 USD. Yes, that's a lot of money.

These two girls are my students. They are younger, so I suppose they are wearing modern dresses. Very prom like.

This is my favorite wedding food. Small, fried egg rolls except with more meat. Yum! Tasty! Another good thing about this dish is how easy they are picked up with chopsticks and popped into your mouth. A khmer wedding is similar to a chinese one. The food is reminiscent of chinese food, but not exactly. People are sitting together at tables and 6-8 courses are served depending on who is throwing the wedding party. Sadly, there is no wedding cake. Also, there is no wedding registry, so people give money. I usually give $10, which is a lot for a meal.

Normally, weddings out in the villages, you will see little children picking up empty beer and soda cans that are thrown on the ground. At this particular wedding, there was this one table full of drunk khmer men who were egging on a little boy (probably 10 years old) to drink glasses of beer for the empty cans. It made me sick to my stomach. Its not cool. Totally not cool.

I was sitting at this table with a few of the other female teachers. This photo is similar to the other photo I posted last month. The expressionless, vacant faces of the female teachers almost leads me to believe how "not" fun weddings are. The tables are usually separated by sex.

This is the bride. She is probably 24 years old. I almost didn't recognize her with the makeup and accessories.

This is my brother in law, Vuthy. He is picking mangoes from one of the several trees around our house.

This is my sister, Rathmoney. She is around 40 years old. She is holding up some freshly picked, unripe mangoes. Khmer people like eating unripe mango with salt and chili. The sour, salty and spicy combination is tasty, but I prefer sweet mangoes.

Another photo of them picking mangoes. At the end of the bamboo stick, there is a small basket to catch the mango. One must be careful not to touch the sap that comes from the branch and freshly picked mango because you could develop a rash.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Camp GLOW underway!

Hello. My secondary project this summer will be a girls camp, where girls in the 10-11th grade will learn about gender issues, female empowerment, careers and the benefits of higher education. Today, my co-teacher and I were able to get all the signatures, stamps and ok's from the necessary departments in our district and province for the go ahead! YES! SUCCESS! Keiko (pcv from Kompong Chhnang) and I will now work on securing the venue and writing the proposal for a small grant. YAY! This is a good start to our project and we are making good time.

Today was a good day. Oh, I also ate 4 mangoes today and they all came from the trees surrounding the house. Jealous? Tomorrow, I will try to eat 5.

BTW, here's a link to an interesting article on the peace corps--

Here are a few shots of my lazy dog, Lucy. She is suppose to be a guard dog...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

How may I help you...?

i taught a mini geography lesson to my two of my english classes friday. it was suppose to be a fun activity and it sorta was. since the majority of my students think north america and france are the same country (yes i realize what i wrote), i wanted to introduce the world to them in 50 mins. i used photos of different places of different countries from national geographic and cut them up into puzzle pieces. the class split into small groups and started to rearrange the pieces into a whole photo. Meanwhile, i taped a giant map of world onto the white board. once the groups completed the puzzle, they tried to find the places on the map. i had them find cambodia first ; )

the goal of my lesson was simply to make it fun and interactive, so that to inspire and offer them new knowledge. they said they enjoyed it and it did look like they enjoyed putting the puzzles together by the faces they made. but at the end, i asked them if they like the lesson. one of my students said that its not so important they know about other parts of the world because mostly everyone in the class cannot afford to travel and see the places...literally at that moment my heart skipped a beat... i know that one student who voiced his opinion isn't the voice of all the students....but its just really sad and pathetic. they have no hope or aspiration to pull themselves out of a situation. and mind you, this boy is in my best, most advanced class out of the entire school.

unfortunately, i was teaching alone that day. if my co teacher was there, he would've backed me up. i dunno...teaching is not getting any easier. i'm not gonna give up on this topic. i'm planning a geography class for the summer.

***UPDATE: Several weeks ago, i helped out some of students with essays for study abroad scholarships. One of my students was selected to move on to the next phase, which is an exam in PP. If he passes the tests, he will move on to the interview/presentation phase. CROSS YOUR FINGERS! This is great news, but there are a few more hurdles!

anyway, here are some random photos of my site: my room, school, students....

Cambodian flag

My house. See the car to the right? Also, my family is sittle underneath the house.

This is the main part of the house. Everyone sleeps on the floor. At night, they put up the mosquito nets and lay out the thin mattresses. 9 other people live here.

I have my own room with an actual bed. I don't have an actual mattress, only a thin camping type pad. It works. its not the most comfortable, but i bet i have a super straight spine now. the size of the room and the low ceilings make my room extremely hot. my host family has also provided a fan for me. my site has 24-hour electricity.

This is the high school where i teach. it is fairly new building, however, we don't have electricity or clean running water. electricity is available, but teachers must pay for it. so, the fans and the lights at the school are non operational.

This is one of my top students. Her name is Ravin. She is looking up the location on a world map.

This is an area where various vendors sell food. Food stalls...see all the trash on the ground...? Unless it is a big tourist attraction, pretty much all over the country is littered with trash.

These are some of my students in my advanced speaking club. On this particular day, I had them choose photos of places they liked and had them speak on it. Not many students showed up....