April 4, 2010

Reorientation Events, Day II

Easter Sunday was the second day of project presentations and reorientation events for Cambodia SSTers. The highlight of the day were afternoon project presentations. Charlie, who with Jake spent the six weeks of service in a Cham Muslim village in central Cambodia, led us in the Muslim Call to Prayer and the bodily movements of Islamic prayer.

Jake and Charlie usually went to prayer at their local mosque between two and five times each day, and some of their closest friendships were formed with older men, teenagers, and young boys at the mosque. In his presentation, Charlie spoke about the usual ablutions before entering the mosque and then recited the prayers in a Khmer-accented Arabic.

In other presentations, Environmental Science major Julian spoke about environmental concerns regarding the Tonle Sap Lake, which he and Annalisa lived on during their service term. Four of the Tampoun village students gave presentations on aspects of their experience: Bailey talked about cashew farming; Seth showed the group a Tampoun cultural guide he developed; Corinne spoke about aspects of Tampoun culture for teenagers, focusing on education; and Chloe showed teaching materials she and her peers developed related to teaching English to Tampoun students.

Annalisa talked us through the feature article she wrote on the Returnee Integration Support Center, which temporarily houses Cambodian-Americans who are forcibly returned to Cambodia after commiting sometimes minor crimes. The returnees are nearly always Cambodians who were refugees during or after the Khmer Rouge period, and some have never actually lived in Cambodia before — only along the Thai border, where they were born in refugee camps.

Finally, Kat showed some of the jewelry she made from wire, pliers, and found objects — delightful, whimsical works.

The final project presentations will take place Monday afternoon. Students are enjoying having their mornings and evenings relatively free to be with their host families, do market shopping, or hang out with their SST peers.

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