Published: May 26th 2012May 25th 2012
I know I promised photos of the new place but it's been a struggle to get moved in. We are still negotiating details. I may just walk by later and snap a few pics to post but there is still so much more to report.
So, I got my university I.D. I know, you're thinking just as I was, big deal. I had a meeting yesterday with Susan, my partner in crime to develop the Master's degree program in executive leadership. You'll be hearing a lot about Susan--she's a wonderful person who I'm going to love working with. So Susan's been here 7 years and has been teaching a class here and there at the university. She saw my ID badge and said, "Wow, you have a gold badge," meaning that nylon thing you hand around your neck and the plastic laminated trim around my picture and ID. I'm sort of like, "yeah, so?" And I say, "yeah and I'm Vice President for Leadership." I always remember what my dad said about Vice Presidents. It's the title you get when they don't know what else to call you. Susan said there aren't so many of them here and the gold
badge is a BIG deal. Who knew? Nothing like that to ratchet up the expectations. Susan's been tirelessly teasing me about my gold badge. You'd think I now have access to the nuclear lanch codes! Apparently I already have faculty who are disgruntled because they wanted to run this program. And the politics begins...... I just keep doing what I do and try to stay above the fray but I do notice that I'm being let in on some pretty important conversations about the future of the universiity. Not bad for a first week.
So Susan invites me today to go see a school for orphaned children. She made it sound really wonderful and it completely blew me away. Here's how it works. The President of this NGO is a survivor of the killing fields. He meets this wealthy woman from the U.S. who is taken in by his story and his desire to help abandoned kids and she funds this school singlehandedly. He recruits young newly married couples to live at the school and they become a foster family for the orphaned children. One little boy was literally floating in a box down the river when he was
rescued. Another little girl's family alll parished in a fire and she was left alone. This young couple agrees not to have children of their own for two years while they foster up to 8 other children. They are paid a small stipend to feed and take care of the kids. The school and houses are set up as a village around a square. It's beautiful green space for the kids to run and play. I sat in on two classes and the kids are getting really solid bi-lingual instruction. The kids are so joyful and playful and the teachers are all amazingly loving. You can't tell which kids are orphaned and which are biological. It's almost like every child belongs to everyone. When Susan arrives the swarm her with hugs and kisses. Buy the time I leave I'm also the object of much affection. It's just a joyful place full of hope. This is the life that every child deserves and it's happening right in Cambodia. The village has 60 orphans and about 20 biological children of the young familes. The biologiclal children tend to be younger and the orphan children are such caretakers. They are about to do this for about $200,000 per year. $3,300/year per child is a huge expense in Cambodia. The per capita income is around $600. If you add in all the biological children and the adults and staff the number drops considerably. The entire experience just showed me what a difference one person can make. This one woman is saving over 100 lives and these children will be future leaders of Cambodia because they are being given everything they need to succeed. I want every kid to have this! I'm going to post some pics of the village but Susan requested I not post pictures of the children. I will honor this request.
OK, I have to go see about a house now. Keep thinking good thoughts.