GROW 2012

Picture credit: Timur Suhail-Sindhu

Video created by: Alexa Juarez

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Long Overdue Post – our apologies!

So it is July 26th today and our GROW team actually arrived back in the U.S. on June 2nd.  Our intentions were to write a post everyday that we were in Cambodia in order to keep a log of our activities and thoughts throughout the process, but each passing day that neared our departure become busier and busier and the next thing we knew we were on a plane back to New Jersey as each and every one of us went straight to work, school, or internship – so our apologies for not updating after such a long time!

On our last day at the CSSD office we surprised the staff with a small party. We came early in the morning presenting them with two decadent cakes (one saying “Aukuhn” and the other saying “CSSD” which translates to “Thank You CSSD”, our beautiful scrapbook, handmade cards for each CSSD staff member and Mr. Chanthan accompanied with a cute keychain. We wanted to show our appreciation for everything that they had done for us in the 2 1/2 weeks that we were in Cambodia.

As the staff gathered on one side of the table of where we had put the cake and scrapbook, our GROW team gathered on the other side while Mr. Chanthan stood in the middle reading aloud each of our intern’s written messages that we wrote in our personalized card to him which he then translated from English to Khmer for the staff. As Mr. Chanthan was reading in English you could see each staff members’ face in anticipation waiting for him to translate to know what he was saying. Once he did, their faces of curiosity slowly turned to gratitude and humble praise. Some had even begun to cry, which made this truly sentimental moment into a mini sobfest. You could really tell how much they loved as, as much as we loved them even though we had only known them for such a short amount of time.

Once everything had been said and done, it was time to cut the cake. I’m not exactly sure when or how it happened, but I just remember someone cutting the cake and the next thing you knew it turned into a crazy cake-painting frenzy! Everyone trying to frost each other and chasing each other with cake cream in their fingers to smear all over someone’s face. The CSSD staff trying to put cake on our GROW team, as our GROW team tried to put cake on the CSSD staff. No one was safe. Hahaha. But in all honesty, this would happen and I’m glad it did. If someone were to look at it from the outside they would probably think we were a big crazy family, and you know what? We kinda are, but that’s what makes this partnership so beautiful and so wonderful. Business is business at the end of the day, but we also know how to have a good time with each other, which in my opinion is the most important thing that we’ve received during this whole trip.

So we thank you again CSSD, for everything. For your hospitality. For your ability to make us feel comfortable, loved, and at home. For Mr. Chanthan who so graciously treated us like his children, took care of us, watched over us, and mentored us. We cannot wait for the day that we can come back again to Cambodia, to Phnom Penh, to CSSD. This is only the beginning of a new and cherished partnership. Aukuhn CSSD. Aukuhn Cambodia for one of the best experiences of my life.

-Alexa Juarez
GROW Coordinator, 2012