Last day at RUPP


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February 19th 2009
Published: February 19th 2009
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Yesterday Hema and her husband took us to visit with Father Kevin at Maryknoll's HIV/AIDS projects. Father Kevin came to Cambodia not too long before I first visited and met him. He took us to one of the orphanages and the project office for Little Sprouts and some of their other projects. While we talked, children climbed all over him and us. Father Kevin spoke with all of them, and the staff, in Khmer. He had a statistical summary for us that was quite impressive, and talked at some length about the history of the program and new calls for services (for example, families displaced when the government took over their land recently). As with all projects I've visited in Cambodia, they have an overarching goal of building local capacity. We had a good discussion of funding streams as well. Father Kevin and I had what to me was a refreshing conversation about whether it was ethical for me to photograph the kids. We negotiated that I won't show photos where you can identify a child except in counselor education settings.

Opportunities to volunteer exist, though if you don't speak Khmer, that probably means volunteering to help staff improve their English. I'd be very tempted if I didn't have, you know, a spouse and cats and work I like and an intense dislike of humidity.

After our meeting with Father Kevin, Hema and her husband took us to lunch at a Chinese restaurant, where we sampled many local canned beverages (e.g., soursop). They then drove us to the university, where Maddy and I walked slowly in circles because it was too hot to sit. My lecture yesterday was on HIV/AIDS in Cambodia, so I was able to incorporate information from our morning meeting with Father Kevin and heighten the focus on mother-to-child transmission and prevention.

After the lecture, we caught a tuk tuk to Karen's hotel. Karen and I are on the board of the same Cambodia-centric non-profit in the U.S. We walked over to a Khmer restaurant where Karen had amok (a Cambodian specialty, fish in a stewy custard) and Maddy and I had Cambodian crepes, which are made with rice flour and eaten by tearing off a piece with a lettuce leaf. Karen invited us to a dance performance tonight, which tempted me terribly, but I heard from Viet Nam about the number of lectures they want me to do next week and thought I'd do better to stay in and write. Maddy may or may not have gone; she was going to visit a different Cambodian college or university late this afternoon. --but not to get ahead of myself.

This morning I had a 7:30 AM lecture, and while I could have used more sleep, it was somewhat cooler. I spoke on Solution Focused Therapy for the 4th year students. Hema gave me a letter of appreciation, and me and Maddy kramas with university name on them, which was a very nice choice. I received a standing invitation to be a visiting instructor at any time, and a request to teach a class in the master's program (I wish I could, but a month away from home is hard enough).

The Cambodia work was:
Siem Reap: Visit non-profits and NGOs, explore volunteer opportunities, and evaluate the utility and feasibility of the research proposal I'm about to submit

Phnom Penh: Visit the RUPP Counseling Psychology master's program and the associated Phnom Penh Counseling Center, give lectures (using Bronfenbrenner's ecological model as a culturally proficient intake model (1st years), Type II diabetes in Cambodia and counseling interventions (2nd years), HIV/AIDS in Cambodia and counseling interventions (a mostly different group of second years), and Solution Focused Therapy (4th years), consult informally with faculty. visit a non-profit or NGO associated with the university. I was very honored to have a number of graduate students and program faculty attend many of my lectures as well.

Hema and her student translator dropped me and Maddy off at the Royal Palace, where we walked around a little. However, our objective was the Silver Pagoda, which would be better described as the silver-floored pagoda. We then had lunch at KFC, which was air-conditioned, crunchy-coated luxury.

Maddy and I said goodbye--we won't see each other again until fall term. It was lovely and very helpful to have her here. She now heads to Thailand for a few days, and I leave for Viet Nam tomorrow. Two lectures planned; four to go! I don't know what kind of access I'll have in Ha Noi this time, but should be able to blog at least a couple of times.


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