Monday, January 31, 2011

Four Frantic Weeks

As mentioned New Years Eve and day were great but all to quickly I was back in the CITA office and it has been the busiest four weeks since I arrived without a doubt which is great I just we can all keep the pace up. First of all CITA got a new member of staff, Kimchhoy who is the CITA project assistant/translator  started on Tuesday 4th.

As Kimchhoy is primarily  to help me make sense of things I was tad anxious of what it would be working with someone so closely. What I mean by that is that in order for both of us to do our jobs effectively I felt it would be important to discuss my ideas thoroughly with Kimchhoy so he could convey my meaning in meeting etc. Now my mind generates ideas in strange way and it is weird to share that process with someone else but what can I say we have clicked. We are very much on the same wave length and I think really understand each other in work context and I think this has been part of the reason for things getting so busy cause now I can fully engage in broader discussions thanks to Kimchhoy.

Anyway just to give a idea of the kinda things we have worked on in the last four week. In the third week we prepared and delivered a presentation for the CITA Board Meeting which was great cause in preparing we got the chance to establish our working relationship. Then we facilitated a Participatory Advocacy workshop in Kampot and finally we have completed the annual report for last year.

Also during this time Bethan from One World Action was doing a study visit, as OWA have been a major donor of CITA providing an operational grant for the past two years which is now been contributed by ATL until 2012. This was great as Bethan was able to provide both me and CITA with loads of information about wider developments in terms of funding and possible future direction and projects for CITA.

So lets see what else happened in the last four weeks:

Board Meeting
Presented Advocacy and Campaign Strategy to CITA Board
Presented Organisational Development Objectives (Based on Crystals work) to the CITA Board
Presented and amened the CITA position paper of Teachers Salaries, Terms and Conditions.

Workshop in Kampot
This was a very interesting experience so I will give it, its own entry.
No smart remarks about my sloppy handwritten especially beside Kimchhoy's great Khmer script
Project Proposals
Submitted project to National Endowment for Democracy fund
Submitted project to the May 18th Memorial Fund 

Attended Meeting with Bethan
This included a very good meeting with British Embassy about project funding the main issues affecting CITA.

Position Paper
Started Teacher Training and CPD paper


Campaigns & Advocacy
Annual Campaigns Calendar approved
Campaign to gain recognition at the Education Congress developed
Attended Chea Vichea Memorial Day
Draft standard complaint form and started database of teaches complaint cases

Somewhere in the middle of all this I also got to go to reception hosted by the British Ambassador (thanks to Bethan) and it was very interesting to see a totally different side of Phnom Penh that evening although I did talk to some very interesting people about teacher training in Cambodia.
The Business Attire requisite nearly caused me some issues until Danny offered a solution  
Needless to say that in order to do all this all the staff at CITA have been working very hard and as of last Friday it had been 12 days in a row. So this week Mr. Rong Chhun has said we are to take some time off which is prefect timing for the Chinese New Year which is this weekend, so begins the year of the rabbit.

follow the Rabbit-New Year 2010-2011

2011 is the year of rabbit hence my attempt at clever title. The New Year kicked off very quickly for me here no sooner was the new years eve alcohol leaving my system than I was going full throttle at work but more about that later. Has many of you know I am not a big fan of Christmas however I have no issues with New Years eve and this was a good one almost as good as the ESIB Alumni parties :-).

The evening kicked off when a few of us met up to have dinner. Nothing special about that you may think until I realised that our party consisted of me and  five sayra saa att (beautiful), intelligent and entertaining women.
one thorn an five roses

I was of course very happy with this ratio although I was very much the thorn among the roses. Part of the reason of the lack of male reinforcements was mainly that Dave was back in England, all the other male vol from my group were at their placement and Danny was with his family. Despite been vastly out numbered I feel I keep my end up and at the very least tried to be a gentleman in the company of the wonderful women all but one of whom where Dutch (the Dutch are good for parties)

After dinner we headed to Paddy Rice one of the three Irish pubs in Phnom Penh. This is were any semblance of decorum that I had been delicately maintaining went out the window very quickly. The decline was marked first by a couple of buckets or beer, then some champagne and the arrival of male re-enforcements in the form of Paul and √Źngran (well certainly Paul counts as male re-enforcements, Ingran on the other hand is more interested in guylove these days).

waiter there is Dutch girl on my bottle of Champagne 
 Anyway things started to spiral especially when I found a new years eve mask which gave me special powers and allowed me to become someone totally different. I still don't know where the mask came from but it survived and is now hanging on my wall as memory of great night.
It is I the Cookie monster :-)
Anyway the mask clearly had magic powers as evidenced from the following picture.......

look into my eyes....ok it wasn't that magically
Now at some point between the third bottle of Champagne and 1am and 1.30am things got a little bit harder to keep track off. I know some of us went to the Heart of Darkness and that I cycled, I also remember that Linda and I had a dreadful time finding a working ATM due to system crash and that the night or should I say morning ending very very well.

When I eventually awoke the next morning Chris, Jeljte and I heading to watch Khmer kickboxing which was probably the coolest thing I have done on New Years day in ages. It was great the fights were been staged in a large shed where the tv station was based. They started with the lightweights and worked their way up through the weight divisions. 

The only problem of course was that I hadn't brought my camera. Was really something we were the only non-khmer there and between the guy with 10 mobile phones attached to piece of ply board and the crazy music that was played during each fight it was an experience. Each round lasted three minutes and I think there were 9 rounds definitely something I will do again only next time I'll bring my camera.