What PCVs Should Call Me

Here is a great tumblr on the weird stuff that goes through a peace corps generalists mind.  Enjoy:

What Peace Corps Volunteers Should Call Me

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The Return of the Quasi: A camp, a vacation, and the promise of another year

It has been a little while since I’ve been here in blog world.  A lot has happened.

The last time the Quasi was updated, we were in the midst of developing a camp for young men in our province.  Camp BUILD kicked off at the end of July and was a resounding success.  The kids came in and for three days learned new things, made great friends, and left feeling better about the future then when they came.  They learned things like how to be respectful to women, work out a small project plan, what makes a good leader and role model, what an egg drop competition is, and the basics of break dancing.  For those of you who managed to contribute, you truly managed to have a positive impact on the life’s of others and on behalf of everyone involved in the project, thank you.  Below are a few links of pictures from the camp to par ruse at your pleasure:

The evaluation reports for the camp and training the new volunteers carried me right into a vacation back home to America.  There I got to catch up with family, friends, and the mountains, all of whom I hadn’t seen for much too long.  After being out of the country for so long and, for all intensive purposes, living in a tree house, it’s easy to see the small social differences you’ve adopted.  Some of the things I got called out for back in home:
  • Eating an entire burrito without stopping to take a breath
  • Staring for a socially awkward amount of time in the grocery store
  • Forgetting appropriate personal space and/or too much affectionate dude touching
  • Talking about bowel movements too much
  • Driving like a grandma (no offense Grandma)

Despite it all, I couldn’t have been happier.  It was the perfect way to cap off a year of service in the Peace Corps.  It is unfair how fast the last year has gone.  Taking a break back home also seemed to renew my love for Cambodia, and my service.  As a volunteer here, one can become a bit (understatement) cynical from time to time and a bit jaded to the things you experience every day.  But Colorado and Cambodia could not be more different.  That being said I caught myself smiling when:

  • The evening sky catches fire as the sun sinks over the horizon and the symphony of animals becomes deafening as the temperature drops
  • A giant beetle flies by your head like a harley davidson
  • People are impressed by your lack of dance skills
  • You have to trudge through knee deep flooded streams just to leave your house
  • Thunderstorms explode out over the mountains and electrify the entire night sky with flashes from distant lightning
  • Your boss tells you it’s time to start drinking, at 1o am, on a work day
  • Your whole neighborhood comes over and sits with you just to ask if you’ve had a good day, is your american family happy healthy, why you aren’t married yet, and how many bowls of rice you’ve had today

It seems a bit sad to say there’s not even a full year left.  More to come

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I Need a Dollar: Camp BUILD

Myself and the volunteers in my province are putting together a project called Camp BUILD!

Camp BUILD (Boys United In Leadership Development) will be a 2 and a half day workshop taking place tentatively on Aug. 8th-10th in Pursat town.  The camp will be aimed at equipping 60 high school boys with new tools and ideas to help them become community leaders and effective learners. Also, we would like the boys to walk away with an improved incite into gender awareness and an improved ability to make decisions empowering women and improving their livelihood.

Below is a link to the Peace Corps donation page.  Please take a second to look at it and if it moves you, help.  We need a dolla.  Cheers!

Camp BUILD

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Sweeping Sands For the Rain

The last few weeks of the dry season were especially busy for many families in our Pursat village.  As the thunder clouds loomed over the horizon, many of the people took the opportunity to start and finish some “yard” work around their homes.

Yard work for my, and most, families simply means keeping the dirt cleaned and organized.  Most mornings the family spends khmer squatting around the yard and neatly brushing up the dirt and leaves so nothing may blemish the clean yard.  To reinforce this before the rain starts, they had 6 truck loads full of dirt brought in which I, not so eagerly, helped the distribute around the yard.

Our cleaned dirty lawn

Our health center, much to my surprise, also bought countless loads of dirt to cover up the lush grass and flowers around the complex to give it a more “clean” look.  It is a good thing they did this too, because without clean outdoors around the complex, it would make it more difficult to keep the indoors sanitized with the maintenance and cleaning materials they can’t afford…

Anyway, the rains have now started for the season and I don’t think I can describe it better than what’s been said before:

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An Ode to a Friend (or three)

After a long absence it seems my inconsistency is becoming much more consistent…

This post will be dedicated to my counterpart, Mr. Hong Leng.  To be honest, I don’t know how I’ve managed to get this far and not bring him up.  He has become the single most important person to any success I’ve had here, and an integral part of my daily life.

Mr. Hong Leng and Myself

Volunteers in Cambodia are expected to find someone, either at the schools or health centers, who will work closely with them and help them integrate into the community.  For the education volunteers this is a little more straight forward as you are assigned a khmer co-teacher from the beginning.  As a health volunteer there is a little more wiggle room, and thus it can be difficult to find one quickly.

My director immediately asked me to go with Mr. Leng out in villages to give out vaccinations.  Little did I know how lucky I got.  After our first day, he came over to my house, uninvited, with a jug of wine, whipped my ass in ping pong, then left laughing.  From that time on through our time out in the villages and in the health center we have become very close.  So close in fact, that when he introduced me to his wife he asked me, “Corey, this is my wife.  Do you like her?  It is okay if you do not, I like you.”  Luckily he was just kidding…

During our time he has helped me with every project I’ve decided to go forward with, and pushed me with some I haven’t.  He guided me through the alleys of our provincial town in an epic quest to find guppies for a farm (and I do not use the word epic lightly).  He learned how to assemble a bio-sand water filter to teach our staff after I arranged to get the materials.  He stuck up for me during our first volleyball matches when, little did I know, the other khmer staff were placing bets on when I would screw up (my khmer has gotten better since then, and I am proud to say I can stand up for myself now).  When I’m watching a soccer game, he bets (in cans of beer) against any team I’m rooting for whether he cares or not.  He taught me how to effectively slap babies in the affectionate khmer kind of way.  And when I suggested building a garden, he stole the idea from me and built a massive one in his back yard.

Our garden in progress

Now, on his own, he is talking with me about setting up a stand in front of his house to use the vegetables he has grown and teach children how to eat nutritious food.  Peace Corps has even honored him with a certificate after he attended a monitoring and evaluation workshop to improve his professional skills (a practice not to common here).

Him and his family have been an outlet for me since he decided he liked me.  During the times when my host family are off traveling, he insists I eat with him and gets me good and drunk on palm wine.  This is a habit I’ve recently had to stop though due to the fact that I learned the hard way that palm wine can eat away at the lining of your stomach.  He gives me beer instead now.

In more recent news I had two dear friends, Carrie and Brian, come and visit me in my local village.  They met the locals, toured the sights, touched my leg (reference)… it was great.  You may or may not know them.  In any case, let them serve as an example to all you lazy bums who are merely “contemplating” visiting the Kingdom of Wonder and/or myself.

So, here’s a cheers to them, my counterpart, and his family.  Making life in the hot hot heat a bit easier and infinitely more enjoyable.

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