Voices of Cambodia: Ea Nearadey

19 07 2012

We are happy to (finally!) post another “Voices of Cambodia” post. This one comes from our neighbor, a lab technician in the health center. This interview was originally conducted in Khmer and was translated to English.

 Name: Ea Nearadey

Age: 47

Occupation: Laboratory Technician

Tell me about yourself.

I am Nearadey. I have a husband; we’ve been married for seven years. We do not have any kids. I went to see a (fertility) doctor in Vietnam but we still don’t have any children. I want more nieces and nephews. I have a niece who is 18 years old, but she left for Siem Reap already. My husband has children because he was married before. I have 10 brothers and sisters; five of each. But two have died already. My mother died nearly three years ago too. I am a nurse.

What do you do in an average day?

I work at my house a little. Sometimes patients come if they are sick. At the health center, I look at blood to see if patients have tuberculosis or HIV/AIDS. At home, I clean the house and make food. My husband builds houses.

What do you want American people to know about Cambodia?

I want them to know that Cambodians want to go visit America. I want to go visit so I can take American drugs that will help me have a child of my own.

How has Cambodia changed in your lifetime?

Thirty years ago, it was very different. They didn’t have phones yet. People were very poor and didn’t have a lot of knowledge. There were no hotels and people didn’t drive motos. Now, we have better roads.

How do you think Cambodia will be different in ten years?

I think in ten years the people will know more, especially about foreign languages. (After being asked if there was anything else) No, no. I don’t know. You should really ask the director of the health center. I don’t know.

If you could improve one aspect of your community, what would you improve?

I would educate the villagers about how diseases spread and about hygiene. I would tell them about clean water and food, how to keep their houses tidy. I would teach them about how to protect themselves.

If you won $10,000, what would you do or buy?

I would buy things to protect people from diseases. I would buy things like mosquito nets and water filters and give them to the poor people. Ten thousand dollars can do a lot. A little goes a long way. I would buy all of the poor people mosquito nets and water filters to help them.





Voices of Cambodia: Ra Sovanna

19 03 2012

We are happy to post our second edition of “Voices of Cambodia.” This one comes from a high school math teacher, Vanna. He is an English student of ours and is currently planning a summer project with Tim. This interview was conducted in English.

 

Name: Ra Sovanna

Age: 25

Occupation: High School Math Teacher

Tell me about yourself.

My family name is Ra; my full name is Ra Sovanna. I was the first child in a family with five members. I have two brothers and two sisters. My father is a teacher like me. He works in the District Office of Education. My mother is a farmer. I finished school in 2006. After that, I got a scholarship to study mathematics at Phnom Penh. At college, the school provided me to study English three years; the program was from Mary Knoll. I finished college in 2010. After I finished, I took an exam and passed it. Then I studied pedagogy one more year as a teacher trainee. Then, the school director assigns teachers to a province where they will teach. In October 2011, I started my new career as a teacher in Kampong Kdey until now.

What do you do in an average day?

Usually, I get up in the morning and water my trees—I told you I have mango trees around my pond—before school. I need to water them all and then take a bath and prepare myself for school. I don’t like eating breakfast at home so I eat at the school restaurant or in the market. I don’t want to waste time cooking in the morning.

Usually, I have 15 hours a week to teach. Some of the day, I am free, some of the day, I have to teach. Monday through Friday, I teach my own private classes from 11-12 and from 4-5 in the evening. After class, I am just coming home. Usually, my family is doing housework. I am maintaining my cows, looking to see if there is some cow trying to eat my mango trees. At night, after dinner, usually we join together watching TV. Maybe we spend 1-2 hours on TV shows. Sometimes, I don’t watch TV, I listen to the radio instead. I like listening to the news programs. Sometimes, I focus on Australia radio to practice my English listening.

Usually, I spend 1-2 hours preparing lessons for tomorrow, completing exercises in the book. Not every day though. Maybe on Saturday evenings, I just listen to music, don’t want to do anything else.

What do you want American people to know about Cambodia?

I really want them to know about the Cambodian culture, especially in the countryside how they are keeping their houses traditionally. And especially the weddings and national holidays like Khmer New Year and Pchum Ben. We show our nationality by Khmer culture.

How has Cambodia changed in your lifetime?

Many things have been changed during my lifetime, both positive and negative. Now, I just want to talk about the positive. According to my district, the infrastructure is much better developed than before. When I was young, the road could not be traveled easily. The road was very small, very few cars and motorcycles as well. Now, all of the roads are changing. They are trying to expand the road on the way to my village [just outside of Kampong Kdey]. They added rubber [blacktop] so we can travel more easily than before.

The educations system is much better than before. Before, many people did not value education, didn’t want children in school. They would just copy the parents on the farm, not go to school. They would work on the farm according to their mother and father. Now, people know too much about that. I think it’s because the local authority is working hard, trying to show the benefit of education. Now, more students in my village study higher and higher. Like me, I’m an example because I completed my Bachelor’s degree and even a pedagogy degree.

About the negative points, I think people in the village tend to use violence more than before. When I was young, there was few cases of violence. Now at funerals with dancing parties, usually the fighting occurs. Many adult people are in danger in this situation. Parents are concerned about the situation. When there is a wedding, there is a dancing party as well. Usually, fighting occurs. Yesterday at night, there was a wedding in my village. There was fighting between two gangs. They used a knife to cut [someone].

How do you think Cambodia will be different in ten years?

I think 10 years later, Cambodia will be improved, especially the infrastructure will be much better than now. Now, they construct new roads in many, many places so people travel easily. Electricity and water supply will also be available in the villages. In my village, there is no electricity, only water supply, but I think in 10 years there will be electricity.

According to the government policy for the merging of ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] countries, the education system will be much better, especially relating to teachers’ salaries and the testing system. We still have corruption, but I hope 10 years later it will be reduced.

Also, gasoline. Now, the price is too expensive, but I hope 10 years later the government tries to take out gasoline from the wells, and the price will be much lower.

If you could improve one aspect of your community, what would you improve?

I would like to improve education. Still many children are not available for study because their family is too poor and needs help from the sons and daughters. Education is important to improve in the village. Besides education, I would improve electricity. Now, in my village, everyone buys a battery and has to bring it into Kampong Kdey market every two or three days to charge it. We spend lots of money everyday charging batteries.

If you won $10,000, what would you do or buy?

I will buy a computer for myself because I want to use Internet at home. Now, I have a plan to buy a laptop, maybe next year. The rest of the money, maybe I give to my younger sister. She is now living in Siem Reap and wants to study for a Bachelors degree but is not studying yet. She is living with a Japanese organization that gives her knowledge and teaches her about the Japanese language.





Voices of Cambodia: Ok Chantha

7 02 2012

Our first Voices of Cambodia interview comes from Chantha, one of our first friends at site.

Name: Ok Chantha

Age: 28

Occupation: Primary school teacher

Tell me about yourself.

My name is Chantha and I am a teacher and I live with my family. There are five people in my family. My father is a farmer and my mother is a housewife. My brother right now is married and stays with his wife. I’m the second son in the family. My younger brother stays with us. He has work also. I like to watch TV when I have free time. I like to watch live concerts from Phnom Penh and I read newspapers and books also.

What do you do in an average day?

Monday through Friday I go to school and teach my students. Class starts at 7 am to 11 am. From 11-1 pm I have free time and I have lunch. From 1 pm to 5 pm, I have class again. Every Saturday and Sunday, I go to Siem Reap for computer class.

What do you want American people to know about Cambodia?

I really want American people to know about the culture. I want them to know more about the situation of people living right now. I want them to know about the students studying in high school.

How has Cambodia changed in your lifetime?

The school has changed. Before, students came far away to study in Kampong Kdei, but the government is building schools. It’s easy for students to study now. Another thing is the road. The road is better now. Students can continue studying and find a good job in Siem Reap. Before, there were no MFIs (Micro Finance Institutions) or NGOs. The material used now is modern – new bicycles, new houses, new motos. When I was young, we had a civil war. There was fighting sometimes, but now it has stopped. They’ve come to work all together.

How do you think Cambodia will be different in ten years?

First, it will be different for students – they can go to school and study together. When they can increase their knowledge, they can find a job to do. Cambodia will be better, but nothing can change without knowledge. If the new generation has high knowledge, they will join and develop the country together.

If you could improve one aspect of your community, what would you improve?

The youth would study more and have a good job to do. They will change themselves and develop the community.

If you won $10,000, what would you do or buy?

I would study at university and find a girl and get married. I would have a plan for my future with my wife and build a new house.





Voices of Cambodia: The Game Plan

6 02 2012

In an ongoing effort to make this blog a readable, interesting, but unromanticized account of our Peace Corps lives, Katie and I have decided to begin a new series entitled “Voices of Cambodia.” We’ve talked at length about the pitfalls of writing personal blogs about Peace Corps service and realized that it is exceedingly difficult to write entries with an honest, unbiased voice to them. While we do try hard, we often find our posts don’t come across as accurately as they should. Slightly stronger adjectives are used; emotions get in the way; personal bias or sensationalism clouds what could be an objective, well-written post. So how do we avoid these pitfalls? By asking the very people we’re writing about so much on this very blog. What better way to teach others about this country and its people than to let this country and its people do the talking?

So here’s the game plan:

  1. Katie and I have come up with seven questions that we think can elicit some particularly interesting responses from Cambodians. We’ll ask these same seven questions to Cambodians in and around our site. We are open to others if you have ideas – just let us know what you want to read about.
  2. We’re starting the interviews with our English speaking friends to finalize the questions, but soon we’ll do them all in Khmer with others in our town as to get a more representative group of responses.
  3. We will not provide commentary about the responses. Their answers will be as raw as translation will allow. We will try our best to translate both Khmer and broken English into something readable, but we will try hard to stay as true to the original language as possible.
  4. You will be able to easily access any of the interviews by clicking on “voices” on the right hand side of the screen under the “Tags” heading.

The questions are as follows:

Tell me about yourself.

What do you do in an average day?

What do you want the American people to know about Cambodia?

How has Cambodia changed in your lifetime?

How do you think Cambodia will be different in 10 years?

If you could improve one aspect of your community, what would you improve?

If you won $10,000, what would you do or buy?

Look for our first interview soon.

-Tim