Arrival of the Cornell Team

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Mr. Krum our tuk tuk driver, me and Allie at the Siem Reap Airport

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Zhou arrives from China!

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Kira gets the “most endurance award to get here” after literally days of traveling. She has stories to tell to grandchildren.

Day 1 Ben with Venerable Y-Nol

Ben speaking with Venerable Y-Nol, program director for Life and Hope Association at Wat Damnak in the early morning.

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.

Day 2 morning meeting

Our first time together in Siem Reap.

Day 2 Allie looking at ammo jewelery from war to peace

Allie looking at ammo turned into wearable art

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Zhou with a playful little doll at the store

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.

day 2 Allie and Kira at sewing school

Allie and Kira thinking of all the things they could have made for themselves. A win win situation as far I’m concerned

Me in my dress

There is a great back story about this dress, but for now, just know this incredible seamstress created magic in a day.

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.

day 2 Greeting by student with towel

Ben getting a cool towel by a student as Kira settles in.

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.

Day 2 SEv orietnaiton

Sev, our Learning Center Manager, presents a great overview of EGBOK Mission

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Getting tour of the learning center, sparking ideas for experiential guest experiences.

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.

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The Team (with Dave as photographer!)

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About Barbara Lang

My career has been filled with life experiences and professional opportunities all focusing on food, ranging from university lecturer, restaurant owner, schooner chef, and Adult Lifelong Learning Coordinator for the U. of Virginia's Semester at Sea. During the around-the-world voyage, I found food adventures in all 15 countries, but India is the most memorable. Early on I was a Napa Valley, CA winery culinary director and most recently started a company called The Etiquette Factor - helping people present the best of who they are, as they move forward in their careers. In late October, my husband I will start a three-month commitment volunteering at a NGO in Cambodia where I'll be teaching and advising young adults hospitality skills as they pursue careers in the local tourism industry. It is my hope and intent, that in upcoming years, we will return to India for more than 6 days, becoming more acquainted with the people and of course, the incredible food.
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