Our four Cornell students have all arrived. Some a little wearier than others, but they are here. Today is our first full day of meeting together. I’m exhausted and I don’t have jet lag to blame. Ben and I began the day early (he has been here 3 days so jet lag, thankfully, is lagging) meeting with the Venerable L-Nol at the Life and Hope Association at Wat Damnak.
The Venerable is a trained lawyer and that, rather curiously, came through in our short but refreshing conversation. He will provide a tour for the students on Thursday that I sense will be memorable.
Great energy from the students. After everyone woke up, we convened over coconut juice and iced coffees (iced coffees fueled the day). We had one orientation where I explained the “laundry list” of items from personal safety and setting personal goals to courtesy and protocol, including the treatment of tuk tuk drivers soliciting riders with respect and warmth. Then off to the restaurant’s shop, where creative and beautiful handiwork is for sale, including jewelry from ammunition and cluster bombs. We live in a strange world. One day, murder and mayhem, and the next, beauty and art – all out of the same material.
Then off to the Park Hyatt Siem Reap-Life & Hope Sewing School to tantalize the students in getting clothes made for themselves. I had my own dress made a few days ago and it was a great experience for so many reasons. I wish the same for the students.
Then arrival at EGBOK! Cold towels and cool water were provided as Sev presented a great overview to what EGBOK Mission does and how “we” do it. I say “we” because I’m so honored to be part of this organization but really, it is “they” – the staff that create these opportunities for our motivated Cambodian students. So fun to see these worlds overlap, connect and hopefully, create some magic.
Following up on Sev’s presentation, Ben shared a presentation he did at Cornell for a big hotel company that offered lessons and insight that would help us as we move forward with our project.
Tonight dinner and initial reflection, review of questions for 3 interviews tomorrow with hotel general managers and then we build upon what we learn each day.
Amazing opportunity and inspiring experience to see these students tackle the challenge with such engagement and enthusiasm.