the next morning…

The next morning was Saturday, so we went down to the market to buy bread for breakfast. The only fresh baked bread in town is baked in an oven over a charcoal fire and is delicious and hot if you get there early! When we got back to the apartment, our landlord, Chantet, stopped to say hello. In K’mer culture, it’s polite to greet someone by asking if they’ve eaten. It took us a while to figure out why he always seemed so interested in our dietary habits. Now we can politely return the question, flourishing our bag of bread, “not yet, have you eaten?”

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not long after…

After trying to get the last post to do far too many things with my slides so that it became confused, I will keep this one simpler!

After our lunch break, we head back to the office either on the moto or on our bikes. More paper-work on the day I’ve documented, punctuated by the arrival back from a partner visit of Ryan – covered with dust and dirt. We head for home around 5:30, usually driving down to the waterfront to watch the sunset and check how far the water has receded since the day before. We’re going into the hot part of the dry season, and the whole flood plain will soon be rice-paddies. It’s well on its way now!

Home to our apartment, hello to our landlord’s dogs, dinner, maybe a movie on the lap-top and the end of the day.

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a day in the life

As promised, this post will try to give you a glimpse into an ordinary workday at the MCC office in Prey Veng town. Morning means cool temperatures and time for coffee and some reading. The birds songs and neighborhood sounds gets going by 5:30 or 6:00. The dogs and roosters take over the night time airwaves.

We have a K’mer language lesson at 8:00, so we close up the apartment, get on the moto or bikes and head over to study with Sam Ang, our wonderful teacher. On the way we pass Mok, our colleague at MCC, and his wife, Seiha’s new house. We’ve all be watching with interest as the house grows. As of today Mok and Seiha are putting on finishing touches and have been living in it for a week!

Also on the way, we pass the MCC office and a local wat, then pull into the courtyard, park our moto and go inside to study. After the hour of new words and sentence structures with our heads buzzing, we head for the office. Daphne is already working and greets us when we walk in. Dani says susadia (hello) on the porch. I turn on my desktop and my fan to start the work of the day.

On this particular day, Mok and Ryan have gone out to visit a partner NGO, so you’ll have to meet them later. Usually there are a few more people in the office. Around 10:30 we decide to go to the market and get a snack for a tea break, so we hop on our bikes and head “downtown.” We park our bikes in the parking area and get a ticket from the woman who watches the bikes. When we come out, we’ll give her the ticket and a few hundred reil. Inside the market, we find a great buy on tomatoes (made a great tomato sauce for dinner!) and some snacks for our tea break.

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Back at the office, we work for a few more hours. Today, it’s reporting and grant proposal writing as MCC is in the middle of it’s 3-year reporting cycle. This much paperwork will probably not come around again during our term – I hope! I promise to show you a more action packed day next time, but this really has been the norm at this point. I also spend time reading and researching reports on education initiatives, both in Cambodia and globally and interviewing stakeholders and other education sector NGO workers. There are days we go out to Angkearhdei Primary school or other groups MCC is working with. This culture takes a universally observed 2-hour lunch and rest break from 12:00 to 2:00, so we either head home for lunch or grab a bit to eat at the market and then go home to study and do some studio work. A far cry from the 40 minutes teacher lunch in my classroom, though I miss my dear colleagues and our conversation. You’ll all be pleased to know that I’m tearing through massive big books I’ve been excited to read and getting work done in my studio.

Whew, some of the slides are getting misplaced in the slideshow, I think I may be overtaxing the capacity of my blog! I’m going to post this and finish up the day in the next post.