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Published: February 20th 2011
This morning I met C. near her guesthouse and we had a little time to catch up before taking tuk-tuk to the office of Southeast Asia Development Program (SADP)
. SADP supports Cambodian capacity-building has a number of programs, and Friendship with Cambodia works with them to support students who otherwise would not be able to afford university.
When we entered the office, I recognized a number of the students, whom I met during the responsible travel tour last year. Today's training topic was chosen by the supervising social workers, who had also collected the students' questions and helped me with the approach and focus to be sure it was a good fit. I had 24 or 25 students all together and was very pleased with their active participation. I presented some basic information about HIV/AIDS and the trajectory of HIV in Cambodia, basic prevention and intervention considerations, and strategies for getting the information to the villages in useful ways. Kosal from SADP provided translation and helped me model not being embarrassed by talking about HIV. The first difficult statement she had to translate was "People got the new virus when they cut themselves while butchering monkeys. Nobody had sex with a monkey." aEveryone did
a great job of paying attention and not becoming flustered. It really helps to preview the potential difficulty of discussing the topic and describe how our ability to stay with it both gets information out and models a way to talk about it: So sorry to have to talk about embarrassing matters, but it's very important for the community.
We spent a good amount of time on question and answer: If a mosquito can't transmit HIV, what about when you slap a mosquito?
At one point I found myself drawing on a whiteboard to explain what "high false positive rate" meant, a subject we only discussed because of the students' excellent questions. I had them practice explaining HIV to each other and answering each others questions, and I had them pair up to develop outlines for 1-hour HIV trainings in villages, which they seemed to enjoy. It was a fun 4 hours, and I was glad C. was there so I can ask her for feedback and we can talk more about how to incorporate HIV education in parent training.
Neither Kosal nor C. was free for lunch, so I ate at my hotel: banana-passion fruit smoothie, green papaya salad, and chicken prepared in the style of the traditional amok fish in a coconut custard with curry--delicious. There were little crab legs in the salad, one of which I diligently ate and the other of which I appreciated aesthetically without feeling compelled to consume. I then walked to Rajana, a store new the Russian Market (a covered market entirely devoid of Russians). I had some specific purchases to make at Rajana and it was a good, hot, liquifying walk of the kind I really enjoy in Cambodia. I used one iPod earpiece transistor radio style so I could still hear what was happening around me. It was satisfying to walk through a Southeast Asian city while listening to a book that takes place in a post-disaster Southeast Asian city. I spotted a copy of the responsible travel book for sale at Rajana. I took it to the counter and pointed at my name in the book and at myself. "That's me! Kinyom chmoa Shoshana!" "Yes, yes," says the clerk, going about her business.
I walked back from Rajana to Monument Books, where I cooled off with a lime juice and fresh spring rolls, followed by a delicious salad of banana, watermelon, mango, and dragonfruit. I returned to my hotel and took a shower and nap.
Tomorrow, Royal University of Phnom Penh.
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