The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own. [ or hers :) ] ~Benjamin Disraeli ~

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Christmas in Cambodia

Tree at Petrol Station in Sisophon
Almost everyone in Cambodia is Buddhist so I wasn't sure what to expect of Christmas. There are many Bank Holidays on the Khmer calendar but Christmas Day is not one of them. On a recent visit to Phnom Penh there were lights, Christmas trees and greetings in many of the shops but here in Sisophon there is little sign. It's a busy time at the college. New 1st years only arrived at the beginning of December so I decided not to take any holiday but to experience the season here. I am so glad I did. On Thursday, 2nd year trainees had their annual volleyball tournament. Afterwards, as a welcome to the new trainees, they held a party. Food was cooked on their very basic facilities and tasted delicious.
Frying Fish

Washing Up
 Dancing followed and I was again invited to lead the first dance. Most songs seem to have their own steps and hand movements but there was a scattering of disco type tracks where anything was acceptable. I was struck by the huge number of young people who joined in, only a few sat and watched. And this without alcohol!

On Friday evening I was invited to a Christmas Party at a local English school. When Vichet said there might be around 100 students I wondered where he was going to put them but he has a big space out the back. Being able to hold events outdoors is a real bonus.Wim and I were Guests of Honour although in fact it was an honour to have been invited. After the food we were entertained by a team of excellent dancers then there was a prize draw for the students. Everyone was very excited at the prospect of winning. Wim and I presented the prizes then found ourselves posing for photographs - a sense of what it must be like to be famous!
Christmas Eve and I was up early to go to work. I'm including this as we had a very successful lesson. As I mentioned in a previous blog, I've been supporting the trainer who teaches Resource Making. He has been drafted in without any training or resources himself and therefore feels inadequate. Today we were making a Healthy Food poster. Creating the sample was a long job for me. I found a good English one on the Internet, copied the pictures by hand, wrote the labels for Sokha to translate then had to design a suitable layout. Khmer text takes up more than twice as much space as English text to say the same thing. Explaining the rudiments of a good poster, in khmer, to the trainer was my next challenge but he's now getting used to my language (Sokha only works part time). Our first lesson didn't go as well as we hoped. The sample was small and not easily seen by trainees so I suggested that for the next class we use my laptop and the projector. This trainer is the only one in the college who has received no computer training. I set everything up to display the poster and he delivered the lesson well. We were comparing how nicely trainees were working compared to the previous class when the screen saver came on. His initial panic changed to joy when I told him to move the mouse. The next time it happened he did it without prompting and got a cheer from the class. It seems like such a small thing but was a huge step in confidence building. Next Friday I'm running a workshop for all trainers on the effective use of ICT in Teaching and Learning as only 3 trainers ever use the projector. My colleague will now feel that he has a little experience.
In the evening I went to the park where there is a fair at the moment. Sellers offer a variety of food from corn on the cob to fried frogs and crickets.

Finally I went for the best sausages in Sisophon cooked by my friend Mono.

Christmas Day. As a gift to myself I took my bicycle for a facelift. The light now works and I have a new basket. It's my primary source of transport so I must take care of it.  I then went to the market. Temperature was about 20 °C and with the breeze it felt quite cool. The only sign of Christmas was in a mobile phone shop where Christmas songs were even playing - mostly in khmer. Chan Leap was there in her santa hat.

Christmas dinner wasn't quite roast turkey. Wim and I ate at a local khmer restaurant that we call Red Chairs. Pork with cabbage, the food there is always delicious. I spent a relaxing afternoon at the wedding garden with a friend walking amongst palm trees, mango trees and pineapple plants. It was interesting to hear of all the medicinal properties of the plants.
I have just returned from a Christmas party held by the teachers at another school that teaches English -lots of food and dancing. A great way to spend Christmas.

Hope you are all having a good time. Seven hours behind me you are still celebrating as I'm ready for bed. 
Merry Christmas Everybody and Best Wishes for 2012