School is out for one week. School is out because commune elections are being held at the school. Commune elections are being held at the school because majority of the teachers are members of the long-ruling, leading party. The majority of teachers are leading party members because membership is required to become a teacher.

Do you see how the leading party can stay in power? Do you see how power is emphasized over education?

Correct me if I don’t have that cycle right.

Cram 20 people into the back of a pick up truck and drive to the waterfall Phnom Kulen with neighbors on Chinese New Year, avoid paying a $20 foreigner fee by sneaking in dressed as a Khmer woman, try to run across a rickety bridge towards the main land when you hear that one of the young girls you came with has fallen into the water and cannot swim, give this little girl cpr while everyone around you either commits the by-stander effect or uses traditional medicine to rub her feet, frantically gather everyone back into the truck with the shocked girl shaking in a blanket, assume you are returning to your village after that frenzied incident only to find everyone still wants to party so you’re on your way to swim in another body of water which happens to be situated around the largest Hindu temple complex in the world, stop for dinner at a very lively carnival where you smash everyone in bumper cars and ride a rollercoaster, until at last you are driving back to your village in the back of that pick up, blanketed in darkness, gazing up at the most vivid stars you have ever seen.

Life is so wild and so so beautiful.

Snapshots of Cambodia

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I can’t believe my eyes, students have started their own club at my school.

Growing up in the large tourist and NGO based town of Siem Reap, a special 17 year old has been empowered by English. I never believed that could happen, being empowered by English, since in my Cambodian classroom nobody wants to learn it. Yet he was incredible! Raised in two orphanages, growing up with foreign workers has helped him understand English, all of it. British, American, Italian accents! subtleties among them. He taught a class of 20 today in the hottest part of the midday, commanding the class with jokes, English and Khmer, and being the best damn English teacher I have ever seen. I watched from the back because he wanted me to observe him and offer tips. He needed none.

Another amazing aspect is this club started with a different student. Another student fascinated by history just started teaching others what he knew, T got excited, and used this audience as the same class for English club.

I have personally hoped to find someone like this while in Cambodia, somebody willing to stand up for what they want despite unpleasant circumstances. For him it came from the power of knowing he has something that others want. There is nothing like sharing information with interested people.

I nominated him to speak at TEDXPhnomPenh. Hope he gets picked. If not, we’ll just go and get inspired.

EDIT: TED called back and we are doing follow ups.

And adding to the brilliance, after securing the old library and restoring it into a classroom within 3 hours ( for reference of how disgusting the room was before, it had broken desks stacked everywhere and species unknown to scientists cohabiting within its quarters) we have our very own space. I even have the key with me. To top it off, though, T arranged the desk in a U shape so it’d be more interactive. Who trained this kid? Foreigners, actually…

Bro, Hip Laundry

Damn you better get a trendy Khmer shop to hand wash your digs or you will look…traditional.

Twirka in the front

Party in the back.



Inspired by the blog Accidental Chinese Hipsters.


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