Thursday, November 4, 2010

All play and no work makes John a dull boy

Following what I can only describe as disparaging remarks (from close friends and family mind you along the lines of sounds like great fun, still a student dosser, what is it you actually doing a two year holiday?? etc) and general queries from other people as to what exactly it is I am suppose to be doing for the next two years and why I haven't mentioned it yet I have decided to try and rectify the situation.

First off let me say that while I have been here since the start of September (over two months now) for most of that time I have been under the dutiful care of the VSO Cambodia office and attending the in country training, so it is only in the last two weeks that I have started what most of you would call ‘WORK’. In fairness I would agree and say that only since moving into my apartment on the 19th of Oct. and starting work on 25th with CITA has the reality hit me but so far so good.

The best way for me to provide an insight is to walk you through my last two weeks:

Monday 25th
I arrived at work after a pretty sleepless night this was due to the fact that it had been hammered into us during ICT to take our time, build relationships and not worry about been active for at least a couple of months (those of you who know me, will know that I am at times a TOB or Task Oriented Bas*&*d). So I had been fretting about how to build relationships in work and what small talk to make. As it turned out it was fine.

I got to the office at 7.55am and was greeting by Mr. Rong Chunn, CITA President and Sortas the Office Manager and shown to my desk and then pretty much left to get myself settled. At 8.30 Mr. Rong Chunn and another board member took me for coffee and we discussed current affairs and the World Teachers Day on 5th of Oct. Then back to office and some time on the internet.

At about 10am Mr. Rong Chunn cam to me with about nine CV and informed me that he would like to be part of the interview process for both a translator/project assistant and accounting officer (little did I realise been part of the process meant interviewing them by myself and recommending who to hire). So I like been interviewed but hate interviewing and decide a better have some kind of scoring sheet and some exercises for the candidates to do preparing this took me to lunch time. Just before lunch Mr. Rong Chunn again emerged from his office and asked if I would proof read a petition for a press conference that CITA was organising for the visit of Ban Ki-Moon (UNSG) the next day. So my afternoon was spent editing the petition with Sotras and reading the CV’s.

Not exactly the slowly, slowly approach that we had been advised to be ready for but I have to say I was elated by the experience of my first day at work and the range of tasks that were given to me.

Tuesday 26th (another day another dollar)
I had already settled into a work routine arrive at 7.55am set up computer and by ready to go by 8.05am. Day two was just as eventful as day one. I started by revising some more documents to do with the Press Conference and re-reading CV’s. Then the Press Conference kicked off and I was stood there in the background  like one of those minions we are use to seeing on TV. The conference went really well with loads of reporters and journalists and was attended by a UN representative. After the excitement of that I returned to dealing with email and getting ready for interview in the afternoon.

Then after lunch (I should say at this point lunch is 12pm-2pm)  I interviewed a candidate for accounting officer and I think I was more nervous than she was. I wasn’t sure what questions to ask how tough to be and working through a translator was a new experience. And so ended day two.

Wednesday 27th
Same start as Tuesday morning (I like routine) only this time I was interviewing pretty much all day for both the translator/project assistant position and accounting officer position. But of course you never do the same thing all day and after lunch Mr. Rong Chunn asked me to draft a letter to American Embassy and prepare petition for Hilary Clinton who was visiting Cambodia at the weekend and I of course dutiful obliged and thus ended day 3.

Thursday 28th
Was pretty much the same as Wednesday interviews and revision to letter and I was also informed that I would be attending a EU Workshop the following Wednesday. Then shortly before we were due to finish Sotras told me that we would have Friday 29th and Monday 31st off because of public holidays (kings father birthday and the like) even though we had arranged a interview for Monday and meeting to discuss education policy all of which I was told would now be done on Tuesday the 2nd instead. Not one to argue with should sound logic nodded a simple thought  about how to fill the days off when Mr. Rong Chunn asked if I would like to have dinner on Saturday which turned out to be the relationship building part of my week and was hugely enjoyable.

Tuesday 2nd
Of course after a long weekend just like back home it took sometime to get back into the swing of things and it was a particular light day what with no petitions to edit and only one interview so I spent a good bit of time chatting with Sotras and looking over the notes for the workshop the next day.

Wednesday 3rd:
The workshop
The EU in Cambodia
Well I could be lazy and just say I was at EU workshop all day but that would not to justice to the workshop or the young people who were there. The workshop was on youth engagement in economic and civic dialogue and included presentations from a range of youth NGO’s that were nothing short of inspiring in terms of their ideas, their energy and their thirst of change. 

Links s to some of the Youth NGO's at the workshop:
The workshop also provided a great networking opportunity for a newly arrived NGO workers and I spent the coffee breaks swapping business cards with as many people as possible and found that this networking lark isn’t half as bad as I felt it would be.

Thursday 4th:
I spent the day following up on my new interest in networking by emailing each of the people who I had exchanged business cards with and trying to get meetings with as many of them as possible which was more successful than I expected. Since the candidate we offered the translator position to could not accept we decided to re-advertise which mean doing interviews again and the rest of my day was spent editing a project proposal to the ILO.

So that my work and long may it continue and I have to say I am taking relish in the variety of tasks that I am getting to do and way that my opinion if valued for example a suggestion I make is briefly discussed and then implemented rather than going 10 rounds like at home which is the benefit of working in small NGO I guess. So, so far so good.


  1. So what is it I am actually doing well I could tell you what my job title is, I could even give you my job description but neither of those two things come near to describing what I have actually been doing in the past two weeks.

    In theory I am advocacy & management adviser to the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association (CITA) and my duties include developing the organisations advocacy strategy (research, policy, project proposals and campaigns) and providing organisational support. Now that sound lovely and very lofty but I had been warned before my departure that you often give such phrases really meaning yourself once you arrive in placement and that has certainly been the case :-)

  2. Isn't Networking fun......!! I am envious your opportunities for of Networking!!

  3. I hate networking but I am not doing it for me in this case so it not too bad.