Saturday, May 5, 2012

Thursdays in SR

  Thursdays begin as Tues and Wed do (refer to previous posts).  So strangely I still read news from Vt. through a few websites: BFP, Vt. Daily Briefing, Vt. Digger, 7Days to name a few.  Perhaps I'm a news junkie as I have the Portland, Ore. alt. weekly as my home page (because my daughter lives there) and read everything from the NY Times, NPR, Slate to Al Jazeera English and more.  And of course the Phnom Penh Post.  As usual I'm off to the pre-school at 730.

  This program Lotus Kids Club (LKC) I have been with since last July.  I helped set up the space, supplied and suggested materials and equipment for the program.  I help maintain the space and continue to teach the teachers about Early Childhood Education.  Now I feel my role should change.  The point is to work my way out of a job as they say, for the project to be able to continue without me.  Sustainability is the mantra here.  It makes sense for the Khmers to sustain a project without Western input, as most Westerners in NGO's leave eventually.  The Early Childhood training at LKC should continue I believe however I do not think my being there during the program is necessary.  The teachers are doing a good job setting up and working with the children.  They have some basic knowledge of how young children learn and child development.  There are a few weak spots but generally we have developed a good PS program.
the director and the primary teachers and kids!

  Please understand the teachers have little if any formal training in teaching young children.  They are caring and willing to learn and as I said do well with the children.  Teaching about early childhood and issues related to that should continue I believe.  If I spoke the Khmer language I could see working directly with the teachers and children.  But as their English is limited also I can't be modeling or be helpful in a 'teaching moment'.   So I believe my time and energies should be with more in depth teaching.  Also I believe I could be helpful if I was able to do supervision with the teachers.  This has not happened at all and I think it's needed.
with a couple of parents before the parents' meeting

  One of the teachers, Ratha, is also the designated Social Worker, though with very little training.  So just a couple of weeks ago I started teaching the basics of Social Work.  And this feels a more productive use of my time.  Fortunately Ratha seems to have a natural affinity for Social Work.  What I mean by that is that his sensibilities and demeanor seem to be in line with Social Work principles.  He seems to gain rapport easily with parents and appears non-judgemental in his manner.  He is great with the kids, caring, calm and gentle but firm.  So you may wonder how do I know this considering I do not understand Khmer.  Well communication is about 90% non-verbal.  Also I see him interact with parents and kids, the kids especially just appear to trust him.  At the monthly parent meeting/rice giveaway he always seems to get the parents laughing at the start of his talk.  You can learn some of those basic Social Work skills but it's good to have some naturally.  Again the most efficient use of my time would be some in depth training in Social Work  practice.  This is the direction I hope to move in with LKC.
kids helping Ratha with snack

Ratha playing guitar, he's good and sings

  Thursday mornings are dedicated to the LKC PS program.  This includes a teacher training session also.  Thursday afternoons are a staff meeting and additional training/planning sessions.  Once a month on Thursday after the meetings we have a parents' meeting and rice/food giveaway to the parents.  It is usually an hour to one and a half hours long.  The director and teachers speak about the programs and the progress the kids are making.  I do a short talk with a translator of course.  My talk usually consists of the following:  Apologies for not speaking Khmer or Vietnamese (you may remember 1/2 the kids are Vietnamese), thanks for the opportunity of working with their children, lately I've talked about Heart Start, and an invite to come play or watch their children play during programming (no one has accepted yet).  These are interesting meetings even though I don't know exactly what's being said.  But there is laughter and questions and comments.  We've passed out playdough (they made all kinds of things) and talked about the benefits of play, and there was a time we took puzzles out and the parents were so engaged they delayed getting their rice.  We have been talking about other ways to get the parents/community engaged/involved.  At some point we may do a Family/Community open house/dinner similar to the Family Room shindigs.  In some ways LKC parallels my former work at the Family Room.  And being the non native speaker here I think I get a good sense of what it must have been like for those New Americans at the FR.
Parent meeting though now we sit on mats

rice giveaway

  I miss my FR fellow workers as I am the only Westerner in the LKC program and I always think what would they think or do with this situation, or am I making the appropriate decision.  No one to give me feedback or good supervision, miss you Toki also.  It's so very clear to me more than ever before that the FR staff and supervision improved my professional skills over the many years working with them. Thank you.

  Thursdays I do not usually play tennis, I try to cook a meal but we may also go out or have delivery (we just heard about a place that has good burgers and delivers).  Some Thursdays I, not usually Jess these days (quite the homebody of late), will go to a Trivia Quiz Night at a bar that will benefit an NGO.  The bar is called Warehouse and is partially owned by a guy with Vt. connections.  It's fun and there is always some team I can join.  Haven't ever come in 1st (2 free pitchers of beer the prize) but more than a few times 2nd.  Fortunately never last as they have to down garlic infused vodka shots.  After losing I pedal home politely refusing the offers to sell me drugs or women.  Ah Cambodia I love ya, good night.
at a great new Tex-Mex place with fellow Vermonter Dr. Bob on the right

Warehouse bar (Superbowl at 5am)


Anne Damrosch said...

Steve, I admire your faithfulness to the principle of sustainablility. Hard to do...AND how you manage to stay 100 times more up on Vermont news than I do! Please let me know if anything big happens. Okay?

Steve said...

Thanks Anne. And did you know you have a new mayor.

Anonymous said...

Stevie! Great to get the updates. 'Wonderful to live through your experiences. Sounds like work/fun/play/food/beer are all in balance. Thanks for taking the time to let the rest of us know what the world looks like outside of our own little peek-hole.

Anonymous said...

Oops! I never told you who I was in the previous blog response.

Steve said...

and Anony. who are you? thanks for your comments however and whoever

Anonymous said...

I love the Stevie angle on the world; food, people, drink, and of course tennis. Thanks again for taking the time for us to "experience" SR. You sound very comfortable and pleased. I can’t believe that after two years you are still finding new fruits to try. Any updates on “long-term” plans? (I would to know more about your bike. Looks interesting.) -Scott

Anonymous said...

Follow up - just blew up your pix of bike washing and I see that it was a moto behind you that I couldn't figure out. Your bike is upside down and the angle of the moto made it look like you might be peddling a recumbent. Sorry, now I get it. -Scott