Tuesday was a Holiday

After a long and overwhelming first day at CSSD, we were ready to process the information received and come back to work swinging. However, Tuesday was a national holiday in Cambodia and the CSSD office would be closed for the day. Planning to sleep in a little, get caught up on our blogs, and go to the market for a peaceful day, I was surprised to hear a hard and persistent knocking on my hotel room door at 6:30am. After mumbling a plea for the knocking to stop, I shuffled out of bed to receive a hotel staff member with a phone in his hand. Mr. Chanthan was calling!

“Do you have any plans for the day?”

“Um, no, not really.”

“Would you like to come to the beach with family?”

Um… YEAH

So we were up, packing our bags and showering and wondering what the day would bring. Surprisingly, we were ready before Mr. Chanthan’s arrival. We piled into the 5-person car that already had his wife, 18 year old son “Whut,” and 21 year old daughter, “Sraiy Puht,” in it. Let’s just say the GROW got to bonding really fast. Music, word games, and jokes were exchanged between getting-to-know-you conversation and silent awe of the greenery and animals we were driving by.

After a few hours, a quick brunch of Chinese noodles, and a trip to the market, we were on Bokor Mountain by Kampot province. The road was long and winding, but the spectacular views of the Gulf of Thailand and the islands   are lasting memories.

photo (2)

We were almost among the clouds, with forests and beach in our view. The Meas family was giving us tips on the history of the mountain (it was only built on in the 1940s- the king built a casino and a resort,) it’s future (they want to build a big city,) as well as some Khmer words and pronunciations (psat=mushroom.)

We set up a picnic on some rocks that led to a waterfall. The Meas family brought a gas portable stove (type thing) as well as cooking utensils and pans, supplemented by prawn, beef, and fresh fruits purchased at the market. However, we were just done cooking the rice (that is, mom and sister did, while the “kids” explored the rocks) when we felt our first Cambodian rain on our skin.

However, before it did start to downpour, Megan and I were able to gracefully (read: we didn’t fall) climb and jump over rocks and reach the waterfall. Except for the number of people present, I was strongly reminded of Garden State and I wanted to shout into the infinite abyss. It was not a strong waterfall, but it was beautiful. The scene was supplemented by a group of monks enjoying the view, kids playing in the water, and man sleeping beneath a rock.

photo (3)

When we had come back, I tasted durian for the first time. I didn’t love it, but it is taste I think I could get used to. The smell wasn’t even that strong!

So then it started to rain. And by rain I mean pour. And by pour I mean we were running to the car using pots as shields and already starting to shiver.

After a short ride, still on top of the mountains, we stopped by the casino the king had built decades ago. It was a cement structure that looked spooky, as it was empty except for a few construction workers using tools. We set up our postponed picnic next to the building.

Unable to quench my thirst for exploration, I followed a narrow path made in the tall gress to the back of the casino. There was an open space and a low wall.

I started jogging to the wall. Then I was running. My stomach was bubbling with curiosity and excitement. As I got closer, the view was starting to unfurl. I saw the islands. Then the ocean. Then the mountain side that was painted with dark green trees. We were on top of the world, two feet in Cambodia, eyes on Vietnam, our heads (literally) in the clouds.

photo (4)

Whut, our official photographer, snapped a few pictures of us. But I was memorized by the view. I was soaring.

We walked back to eat a delicious, late lunch of shrimp, beef, rice, and green tomatoes. Then before packing up, we ran back as a cloud was coming, so we could touch it. We stood on the mountain and a mist passed through us. In cloud 9, I guess I could say.

We were off again, this time to the beach. We spent only a short while with our toes in the sand, feeling the warmth of the air and the water.

IMG_1517

Off again, we were driving to Mr. Chanthan’s home town. After a bumpy road in construction and very real concern about a breakdown, we made it to his mother’s house. It was dark and the neighborhood had only gotten electricity in the last few years. We snacked on fried treats made of rice and sugar and tried not to be awkward around a family we couldn’t speak to. After a short time, bowing and many “johm riab sua” and “ah kun” we left to Mr. Chanthan’s sister’s home and soup restaurant.

It was dark, night had fallen some time ago, but cloudy, so we were unable to see stars. We enjoyed watching all the dogs play, the cows sit, and had a delicious dinner of soup and crab, the latter which was picked up from a market on the shore. With Mr. Chanthan and his son chatting with us and the feast before us, we were tired but content. The situation was definitely a new one, being in the Cambodian countryside, eating new foods, around people we couldn’t communicate well with. There was even consideration of staying the night, but we didn’t want to rush in the morning, so we drove back after dinner.

Boy, were we tired when we got back. I think I showered and just collapsed into bed. What a day. We saw so many new, beautiful things, had a great time bonding with the Meas family, and I experience emotions ranging from wonder and awe, to perfect peace, to apprehension, to worry. I tried to keep an open mind and heart throughout the day, as I plan to for the whole internship in Cambodia. I am putting my trust into CSSD and the people in it and though I feel vulnerable, which makes me nervous, I know it is the right thing to do. Throughout the day I remembered over and over again to really experience the process, to be in the moment, to feel the joy and the bad emotions, and to really feel the warm waves kissing my toes. I can still feel them now when I think back.

I think Tuesday really showed me that 1) its the people you meet that will help you go on adventures, 2) putting your trust in the right people can pay off, 3) I love my GROW team more and more every day and that my heart will be bursting by the end of the internship in an excess I cannot imagine, and that 4) sometimes you just have to roll with it.

IMG_1530

Though the day was not dangerous or challenging in a way my worst fears could manifest themselves, I was out of my comfort zone, which is an experience. This is partly what I hoped to get out of going to Cambodia and working with CSSD- to expand my comfort zone, to grow (pun definitely intended,) to gain a new insight into the world. I am so grateful already for my experience and feel so honored to be able to spend even more time with my GROW ladies, Mr. Chanthan, and CSSD.

Adventure on!

Much GlobeMed and GROW love,

Gabby

And Our Internship Begins!

After the mesmerizing and eventful weekend at Siem Reap, it was time to return to Phnom Pehn. But going back meant that we had to go back to work mode, returning our focus on what would be expected from us during this internship. But this was also the moment had been waiting for, to meet Mr. Chanthan and the CSSD staff in person. We were extremely excited and nervous. In that morning all of us agreed, we really had no idea what to predict.

Dressed in long black pants and a blouse, I was also fearing the heat. I was already imagining myself drenched in the impending sweat and struggling to make a good first impression. Mr. Chanthan had told us he would come pick us up from our hotel to show us where the CSSD office was. When we met him in the lobby he was all smiles. His kind and friendly demeanor helped ease our apprehensions. Once other staff members arrived, we left to the office on the backs of their motorbikes.

The CSSD office is about five blocks from our hotel, and the ride on bike allowed us to see more of our surrounding area. I really enjoyed it and thought it was fun, I hope to ride on their bikes again. When we first entered, Mr. Chanthan gave us a tour of the place. It is an open area, with about 8 or 10 desks for staff members. Mr. Chanthan has his own office, and there are bathrooms and a kitchen area. In his office we discussed what major projects we will be working on.

photo (1)

One of our top priorities is forming a monitoring and evaluation survey for the EW’s that work with CSSD. Along with this project, we will also be helping them build their capacity by aiding them with their English three times a week, report writing and proposal writing two times a week, and also joining them during community sessions to gain more knowledge about how the program works. In addition, we will have budget meetings with them once a week. The other GROW interns and I were very relieved to have this discussion, because it cleared a lot of the ambiguity as to what we were going to be doing.

A highlight of the day was meeting another local organization, Association of Music for the Disabled (AMD). They were created in August of 2012, with goals to have disabled individuals better integrated in society. This includes advocating for their rights, educating others, and teaching the disabled how to play music as a means of income. They met with us at CSSD because they were interested in forming a partnership with a chapter of GlobeMed, and we provided them with the information to do so. After the meeting one of the members, who was blind, played music and sung for us. He was so talented, and it was a joy to listen to him. I truly hope they are able to be a part of GlobeMed’s partnerships. It seems they are sincere in their desires to help others, and have a very unique approach to a current big social issue.

I thought the first day went really well, and made me look forward to spending more time with the members of CSSD. It also left us pretty tired, and we took it easy for the remainder of the day. After finding an excellent restaurant on the same street of our hotel, we all went back to our rooms to hang out. It allowed us to relax and compose ourselves.

Emotions are still currently high for me, there is so much left to experience of our trip! It’s hard to realize that this is only the beginning.

Until next time,

-Megan

Bikes and Buses: Goodbye Paradise

It was a hard day to face on Sunday, knowing we would have to leave the place we so immediately became enamored with. We decided to start the day by eating breakfast in the downstairs of our guesthouse… and it was delicious. I tried dragon-fruit for the first time off of Gabby’s order, and I ordered some potato cakes as well. Sitting next to the open window was a nice way to take in our surroundings and make a note of what we’d like to remember of this beautiful place.

IMG_2889[1]

After we ate we decided to take a bike ride around to explore the streets we had not been around yet. That turned out to be quite an adventure! The ride started by us taking a road that turned extremely busy, causing us panic to find the nearest turn out. Once out we weaved through side-streets, where we were able to gain a better view on the lives of those who lived in the area. One highlight was riding through a monastery, where we could see the monks hanging their clothes on lines outside and the beautiful architecture of the buildings inside. We rode past parks and markets as well, and by the end of the ride we really learned the ropes of biking through the traffic in Cambodia. Basically, if you hear a car or motorbike beep, get out of the way because they aren’t stopping for anything! By the end of the ride I was sweating buckets. The heat was really effecting me and I had gotten blisters on my hands, but it was definitely worth it.

IMG_1435

When we returned from our bike ride, we hung out on the guest house’s balcony one last time. It was a great moment, and that balcony will be one of the things I’ll miss most about the place. We then packed our things soon after, and went to catch our bus to Phnom Pehn. The 6 hour bus ride back was filled with loud Khmer music videos on the television screen, and the constant honking of our crazy bus driver. We had no clue what he was honking at more than half the time… It was very strange. But the drive home gave us a sunset view of the countryside, and the mountains in the background made it spectacular.

We arrived back to the hotel around 7:30PM, and we all were so tired. It was a long day, but we still had to prepare for our first day of internship with CSSD. The next couple hours consisted of us putting together binders for our ESL program, and constructing a game plan for the day. I think I passed out immediately after my head hit the pillow that night. It was an exhausting day, but still great nonetheless!

Thanks Siem Reap for the memories, I hope to visit again one day!

– Megan

TukTuk ride: $2 // Weekend in Siem Reap: Priceless.

The Eagle has landed. We officially touched-down in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on May 23rd around 2 pm and hit the ground running – literally. Despite the startling reality of our arrival, we managed to grasp the all-too-real concept that presented to us: WE ARE HERE… FINALLY. Six months of preparation and planning for this one trip had arrived and we were no longer standing on American soil, but out in an thrilling, free and dangerous environment that would make up the next month of our lives together.

Upon landing at Phnom Penh International Airport, we quickly grabbed our bags from the carousel and met the supervisor of Bonitar Hotel outside of the airport to board the van that would escort us to our home for the next 6 weeks. We were delighted to find a comfortably cool and spacious hotel room which provided all of the usual amenities as an American style hotel room, with a few slight exceptions of course (e.g. multipurpose bathroom which combined a shower, toilet and sink all in one floor space). We freshened up at the hotel and gathered our thoughts that weighted the last 36 hours of our trip. After settling in, the four of us set out into the busy streets of the Phnom Penh outskirt in efforts to grab our first real dinner since our departure in New York 2 days prior.  After 10 minutes of roaming the littered side streets surrounding our hotel and being starred down by locals who were obviously aware of our fresh-from- America appearance, we found a small outdoor eatery tucked under metal roofing. Despite a slight language barrier when ordering our meals as well as a slightly disturbing middle aged man pressing to pay for our meal, we concluded that our first dinner in Cambodia was a success. We exited the eating area as stealthy as possible and quickly walked back to Bonitar, dodging the locals on motor bikes here and there.

The next morning, Friday May 24th, we woke up at 7:30 am to grab a quick breakfast at the restaurant in Bonitar Hotel – a small, modernized cafe reminiscent of a diner-style eatery with bright orange booth chairs. We were unaware of the waiting time for our breakfast food (1 hour wait) and ended up missing our scheduled 9:30 am bus ride to Siem Reap. We finished breakfast, taxied it up, and reached the bus station at 9:30 am to discover that our bus had left and our only option being the 11:30 departure time. With an optimistic mind, we accepted the 11:30 option and took our seats at a crowded, outdoor bus station bench near the road. The bus station was chaotically arranged with numerous benches for waiting passengers, small trolleys of local street delicacies and old beggars.

After making small talk amongst ourselves and a Cambodian local to our left, Gabby and I decided to set out on foot to explore the early morning streets of the city. We wandered a few blocks down the road, dodging the hustle and bustle of motor bikes and street cars to find the Central Market. Straight out of an episode of Andrew Zimmerman’s Bizarre Foods, Gabby and I squeezed passed an array of food stands selling an assortment of meats from cow livers to fish tails to chicken feet to fried roaches. As we continued through the slender walk way of the busy and loud market, the exotic and interesting colors of local tropical fruits caught our eye – the bright red and green hairs of a rambutan fruit,  deep-green sharp spikes of a durian and jackfruits. It was a intense and enriching sensory overload, to say the least.

We boarded the bus at 11:30 en route to the recently discovered Wonder of the World – Siem Reap. The six hour bus ride was interesting and filled our visual senses with a day in the life of a Cambodian. The bus featured popular Cambodian films and music videos on the small TV screens amidst a muggy, sweaty atmosphere and Khmer conversations echoing in all directions with culturally decorated curtains sweeping the sides of each window. With a few stop overs at rest stops and food stands along the way (and cricket eating done by Megan and Nabgha – Cambodian delicacy) arrived to Siem Reap.

931411_10151955289664698_1852685688_n

As we exited the bus we were bombarded by tuk tuk drivers offering to transport us to our hotel destination and after negotiating a $4 deal with a fervent driver we piled our 6 luggages and 4 bodies into a single tuk tuk – WIN. The scenic ride through Siem Reap towards our hotel ‘Two Dragons’ was slightly different from that in Phnom Penh. Siem Reap has more of a local ‘home-y’ feel – less fast paced and urban. Personally, I believe the people are friendlier and less aggressive towards new comers. This quaint town lays amidst a river surrounded by numerous bars and restaurants, bike rental shops, souvenir stands, small hotels and homes. Palm trees and lackadaisical tourists/foreigners are scattered throughout the streets – in my mind, a very relaxing Islander atmosphere.

By this time (7 pm), it was already dark outside as the tuk tuk makes a right turn off the main road and pulled up in front of our adorably, charming guesthouse for the weekend ‘Two Dragons.’ (Rated 4.5/5 stars by tripadvisor.com, Two Dragons has a great reputation for being super clean, having excellent food and incredibly accommodating staff) Remembering our prior reservation for dinner with University of Virginia’s GROW team at 6:30, we rushed to head into our guest rooms to drop off our bags and grab another tuk tuk ride to UVA’s guesthouse a few blocks down the road. Having no phone to contact them on the ground (Facebook through wifi connection only) we hoped to find them in the lobby of their hotel despite our 30 mins to an hour tardiness – and luckily they were there. The UVA GROW team consisted of 4 girls as well – Nathalie, Farah, Brogan and Nadine. We were all ecstatic to meet each other and share our knowledge of our experiences in Cambodia so far, along with educating each other on the objectives of each GROW team and partner organization. We stood in the lobby of their guesthouse for 15 minutes, chatting away and eventually carrying the conversation outside as we all set out on food to find a restaurant that met our fancy. We found a small restaurant near Two Dragons and bonded over the usual Cambodian dishes of rice and noodles. We learned that UVA is partnered with a non-profit organization that is stationed in Siem Reap, who deal with prenatal and natal care of Cambodian women. We also shared the mission of CSSD in Phnom Penh with UVA. By the end of dinner, we were all exhausted and worn from our long journey, so UVA GROW team offered to walk us back to our guesthouse and we bid our farewells. It was so enlightening to learn about their cause and experiences and it was such a great opportunity for us to meet with another GlobeMed chapter in our partner country. We hope to see them again someday! (Summit 2014?!)

942300_10151955290309698_1483410829_n

Important fact: 12 am on May 25 = MY 21st BIRTHDAY!! WOOOOO

The next morning, I was grateful to have spent my birthday exploring the magnificent temples of Siem Reap – especially the breathtaking, most spectacular Angkor Wat. Our tour guide named Rous met us outside of Two Dragons at 5 am on May 25th and we rode with him inside his tuk tuk to the first stop – Angkor Wat. I presume this temple was the first stop of the morning because it is one of the few temples in Siem Reap that face towards the west (this is non traditional of most temples in Cambodia and the Buddist religion) – thus this temple is a fantastic viewing area for the 6 am sunrise. As we pulled up to the temple at around 5:30 am, we could only catch a glimpse of the outline of the temple with the early morning dark gray sky. As the sun continued to come up, Angkor Wat began to come to life as more of the temple and its intricate design came to unravel itself under the pink and purple early morning sky. It was one of the most breathtaking and beautiful moments to see the temple slowly appear before our eyes and I was filled with profound admiration to witness its grandeur. The ancient ruins that still remain of Angkor Wat are a miraculous piece of art and architecture stemming back to the year 1142 when it was completed. Many people mistake Angkor Wat for having been a lost city that was recently “discovered”, although Angkor was never lost — the location and existence of the entire series of Angkor sites was always known to the Khmers and had been visited by several westerners since the 16th century. Rous escorted us into the temple and gave us a  tour through the passage ways while explaining the history behind its walls and the religious beliefs embodied by the stone carvings. It was such a spiritually enriching experience to be able to learn about and touch the walls of the grand Angkor Wat, deeply rooted in hundreds of years worth of ancient history and existence.

IMG_0719

After 2.5 hours of a tour within Angor Wat, Rous escorted us out of the temple and down the long walkway crossing over the large moat with surrounded every temple. He explained that the temple symbolized the center of the universe, while the moat around the temple was a body of water symbolic of the open sea. It was the Buddha Day holiday at the temple at that time, so there were larges masses of monks surrounding the circumference of the temple – paying their respect to the Buddhist religion for the holiday. As we exited the final gates of the temple, it was awe striking to see the large masses of bright orange cloth worn by the monks that flooded the entry way and pathway leading to Angkor Wat. I could not help but admire the young boys and men who were in line to worship the holiday and advance themselves in their maturity as a young monk, it was truly humbling to witness this unique religious gathering amidst such a sacred and ancient backdrop of Angkor Wat.

IMG_0795

IMG_0807

Our second temple we visited was called the Bayon Temple. This holy structure was much different from the grandeur style of Angkor Wat, yet was just as magnificent and breathtaking. Rous continued to explain the history and story behind the temple, which was built a little after Angkor Wat in the late 12th century. We rose to the top of the temple which reminded me of a small city, with numerous levels of steps and huge monumental sculptures of faces places very near to each other. It was nothing like i have every seen before. Even if someone Googled ‘Bayon temple’ to see the structures of the temple, it would not do them justice because half of the grandeur of it all was being among the huge faces on the top of the temple. I almost felt like it was a civilization in the sky. It was truly a remarkable and memorable experiences – one of the memories that I will never forget.

Our third temple we visited is called Ta Prohm Temple, also known for being the setting for an action scene from Angelina Jolie’s film ‘Tomb Raider’ (it has acquired a nick name ‘Tomb Raider Temple’ since then). This temple was also vastly different from the prior two temples in. It reminded me of the setting of a shooting video game my brother used to play with the ancient passage ways made of fallen stone and enormous trees as well as the small doorways that led from inside the temple to an outdoor small courtyard with more huge fallen rocks. This temple was also just as magnificent as the rest – all three temples embodied a different design and  form of splendor. Trying to put into words how amazing a sight each temple is will never justify its true valor as witnessing it in person.

The day ended with Rous at around 4:30 pm as we took our final tuk tuk ride with him back to Two Dragons. We all agreed that he was the best tour guide in all of Siem Reap – he even took us to an abandoned temple which no other common tourist visits because it is deep in the woods and requires a 10 minute ride on a tiny path in between the trees and forestry. We absolutely loved him as our tour guide as he treated us like his little girls and we listened to him like a fatherly figure who taught us about the ancient stories behind each temple. As we bid him farewell in front of Two Dragons, I know we were all slightly sad to depart from him after such a long day together.

Exhausted, sun burnt and sweaty from the intense heat and sun outside, we made our way up to our rooms to wash up for my birthday dinner celebration. Gabby was able to locate a popular outdoor restaurant bar called The Red Piano, famous for once serving actress Angelina Jolie when she filmed her action film Tomb Raider a few years ago. They even named a gin tonic mixed drink after her in memory of her visit. Once we were all freshened up, our awesomely friendly and charming guesthouse owner, Russel (we presumed he was South African or Australian), gave us walking directions to a lively part of the town called Pub Street – known for where foreigners and young adults go to celebrate and have a drink or two. As we made our way to Pub Street and I couldn’t help but think how perfectly incredible my birthday has been so far. Rarely (at least most youth in America) would have the opportunity to spend their 21st birthday in another country halfway across the Earth to admire one of the Wonders of the World in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

We reached The Red Piano and it was packed with lively crowds from different parts of the world – you could tell it was a popular spot for foreigners and locals to come. I FINALLY had the chance to order my first legal drink as a 21 year old (although it was not in the United States, it still counts!!). I chose to order Angelina Jolie’s preference – the tonic drink ‘Tomb Raider’ – in honor of todays tour around the temples of Siem Reap, especially Ta Prohm Temple also known as the Tomb Raider Temple. The four of us sat around the table in the trendy restaurant bar and we all could not stop laughing – it was truly a blissful evening for all of us (either that or the heat was getting to our heads!). We honestly could not stop laughing and yelling about how unbelievably unforgettable and memorable the entire day has been.

This moment in the trip was another time I will never forget. One – it was my 21st birthday in a country half way across the world from home, entirely independent and free; Two – I was surrounded by 3 amazing ladies that fuel each other’s spirit and love for travel and adventure; and Three – we were surrounded by complete strangers in an environment that was completely bizarre and new to us. The three of these reasons together are what made my 21st birthday a true moment of utter and complete bliss. And I would not have had it any other way – Cheers!!

WIth GROW lovin’

Jackie

Greetings from Doha International Airport!

The GROW team is en route to Phnom Penh and it seems surreal to me that I am writing this post from our layover at Doha International Airport in Qatar. It is somehow hard to imagine that we were all in New York last night and will be in Cambodia within hours. The reality of our internship is only just settling in.

For me personally, the twelve hour flight between New York and Doha evaporated in bouts of sleep and light reading. The trip was comfortable, lit by what Jackie aptly called “club lighting,” creating an ephemeral atmosphere that prevented deep concentration or extreme alertness. This mood lighting, combined with my sleepiness, made the whole experience vague and blissful. I am now 6700 miles from home and, until I stepped out of the plane into the hot Qatar air and blaring sun, it was possible that I dreamt up the whole thing.

A tram collected us once we left the airplane and we traveled in what Gabby calls celebrity-like fashion: “I just casually step into these things and never know where they’re taking me!” We exited at the transfers area of the airport and, after clearing a (really brief) security check, we stepped into a twinkling white airport lobby brimming with souvenirs, duty free luxuries, cafes, coffee shops, and vast windows showing the bustling airport outside.

The team shopped (and by that I mean that I was the only one to buy anything – a keychain for my collection), explored, ate, explored some more, and then settled into a quiet lounge. The space is filled with sleek, contemporary recliners, among which we chose four seats and made ourselves comfortable with blankets provided by the welcoming staff. The team is reading, relaxing, and catching up on sleep as we wait for the second half of our journey to begin.

In half an hour, the plane will board and soon after that, we will be off. I can’t wait for the adventures, growth, and learning that lie ahead of us. I leave you with the same reminder that we all keep giving each other as the trip goes on: you guys, this is really happening.

– Nabgha

A jet plane and a big idea

I have been waiting for this for so long that I am having a hard time believing it is real.

We are leaving for Cambodia tonight and will arrive on Thursday.

I try to go into new experiences without expectations and with an open mind and heart. Though I am also approaching the GROW internship in this manner, my mind is still a flurry of activity wondering what the smells and sights and noises and experience will be, not to mention how amazing it will be to work with CSSD! I’ve made an itinerary, but I am sure we will deviate from it, especially with CSSD’s influence!

For the last two weeks or so, our GROW team has not been able to come together because of the finals craziness, graduation, and moving out and away. So our reunion and the next six straight weeks together will be a wonderful and intense experience. I am so grateful for the women I am traveling with. They are rock stars and we’re all going to do a great job!

We will start working with CSSD on Monday. Our first weekend will be spent in Siem Reap and the Angkor Wat complex. After we get back to Phnom Penh, we will be working every week day and exploring the city and area on weekends. During the trip we will be celebrating two birthdays, Jackie’s and mine.

I’m still doing a bit of last minute packing and I know some of my GROW team has been done since yesterday. Either way, we’ll be on that plane at 11:00pm tonight!

We’ll soon have greetings from Cambodia!

 

Gabby

We’re leaving on a jet plane! T-minus 11 days.

In just 11 days we will all be boarding the plane in JFK airport en route to Phnom Penh, Cambodia! It is crazy to think that these past few months together in preparation for this trip has flew by quicker than any of us has expected. The year at school is coming to a close as we all prepare to take our final exams and finish up our Junior year at Rutgers (Nabgha is graduating a year early so this is her final year at college before she begins to apply for medical schools).

Monday night we all got together at my apartment on College Avenue Campus and curled up on my bed to watch the documentary called “Born Into Brothels”, directed by our very own Rutgers University Professor Ross Kauffman. The documentary ‘Born into Brothels’ is the winner of the 77th annual Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. A tribute to the resiliency of childhood and the restorative power of art, Born into Brothels is a portrait of several unforgettable children who live in the red light district of Calcutta, where their mothers work as prostitutes. Zana Briski, a New York-based photographer, gives each of the children a camera and teaches them to look at the world with new eyes. We had the honor of meeting Ross Kauffman at the Global Health University Opportunity Panel that was hosted by our GlobeMed Chapter at Rutgers University last week.

Today, Gabby arranged for us to meet with a Rutgers Professor who focuses on English as a Second Language (ESL) so that we may have a better understanding of how to structure and execute our English teachings with CSSD. Julie, the ESL Professor provided a large selection of English teaching books and interactive ideas that will guide us along for the 6 weeks that we plan to teach English. The CSSD staff requested for us to reserve an hour each morning as well as half an hour in the afternoon for English lessons during our internship with them.

A few days before we depart for Cambodia – our home for the following 6 weeks – the four of us plan on having a dinner gathering with all four of our families as a Last Farewell. My parents are especially excited and anxious to get to know Megan, Gabby and Nabgha. I believe all four of us are so uniquely different from one another, but we manage to fit together in such a dynamic and stimulating way. The atmosphere we create together is in all cases invigorating, lighthearted and loving – we all contribute to a great energy that will only prosper the more time we spend together as a GROW team.

Until next time – Cheers!

 

WIth mucho GlobeMed LOVE,

Jackie xox