Monday, January 12, 2009


When I was a lawyer one of my firms were very keen on SMART objectives - particularly at appraisal time. This is the idea that objectives should be: Specific, measurable etc etc... As one of the frustrating things about Cambodia is that planning in advance is sometimes futile (for instance, planning on a Thursday to do something on a Sunday probably won't work) it was a surprise to come across SMART yesterday in conjunction with a class of 50 or so 12 to 18 year olds updating their "life plans"!

We had planned a movie party at CCH for Sunday. However, on arrival the older children were having an impromptu lecture/individual power point presentations on how they were going to focus their lives to ensure that they would succeed in their career aspirations and goals! The movie therefore would not be on the big screen in the library as planned but as the younger children (who were not planning their lives that day!) were free they could watch it on the computer downstairs.

While the kids were watching on the tiny screen we took Sina to Sovanna - one of her now favourite places for ice cream and for a push of the trolley around Lucky Supermarket. We got various goodies for the children and then went for an ice cream. Sina has been there a few times now and is quite proficient at finding her way around the menu and making sure she gets the drink and ice cream concoction that she likes the best!

On return to CCH we joined in the lecture which was still going on upstairs... part English/part Khmer. The children appeared to have prepared presentations on their aspirations and how they will achieve them. The children would all love to get scholarships to go to United World College and the focus was on the exams that would get them into the College which has locations all around the wold (including Cardiff!). The director then gave a lecture about SMART objectives and SWOT objectives. I couldn't believe that some of the kids already knew about it anyway!

Note: The world economy is cited as a threat to the grades of the children of CCH!

The class went on. The children were identifying their weaknesses... Biology and English. Then with a flourish (in Khmer but I can gather when I am being volunteered for something) Ms Michelle and Mr Fred were identified as the new volunteer teachers by the director (I got English. Mr Fred, Biology!!!). We were then told! To be fair we had announced to him earlier in the week that we were now free to do any teaching the kids needed - I just didn't expect it to be 6 hours on Saturday and 6 hours on a Sunday. Oh well!

Driving around PP new buildings have popped up everywhere since I left 2 months ago to go to Australia. Several new buildings have been completed behind our flat including the house opposite getting a radio mast (what - why wasn't I involved in the consultation process!) but most exciting is the completion of the new Stung Mean Chey bridge!
New view from the apartment. The house that has the radio masts just installed new air con so I wonder what the money for the mast was spent on....

Why wasn't I consulted?!!!!

Previously to get to CCH you had to embark on a risky journey across a old bridge across a open sewer and a road that was basically a large mud track which had ups and downs like a rollercoaster. But now the Bridge has been completed and is OPEN for business! On arrival here in March 2008 we were told that work had started months previously, we had seen virtually no progress for months and joked that when the Bridge was complete it was time to think about coming home...

The old way...
The new way!

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