Inspired Words

These are the experiences of our volunteers in Cambodia.

Developing Connections: Life-long friendships made.

Posted in Cambodia on December 15, 2008

December 10:

Day two at work. Progress was made. Work was done. Bonds re-inforced. Connections established. We went to the crab shacks for dinner. By the time this trip is over I will have eaten more crab in a two week stint than I have in the last few years. The only problem with crab? I burn more calories getting to the meat than I get from consuming it. I lie – there is another problem with crab: it always tastes like more. Vy, Saran and Christina came to dinner with us. Christina is an American ex-pat with a curious English accent who is working with BAB. She gave up her stressful, corporate and material existence (her words) to work indefinitely with BAB in Cambodia. She is radiant. Members of the other group shared their experiences building a house from the ground up in two days. Thanks to them, one impoverished Cambodian family is the proud owner of a sturdy new 'dream home.' By the way, this home is a shack by western standards. It is a square building maybe 12 feet by 12 feet with a thatch roof and walls. No matter, the family was very pleased and proud, as was the group. Their stories of laughter, playing with the kids and of a unique building experience left my group looking very forward to starting our dream home.

Repeat good times from the night before. I am amazed by this group's energy. I don't know if they always have this much energy or if they are going to need a vacation from their working vacation when they get home. I seem to have more energy myself. Maybe its the sun. Maybe its the people. Maybe its the positive energy. Whatever, I like it. Some of us went to bed. Guitars were played. Laughter was had. I enjoyed the company of the ten or so of us that went for a midnight swim in the ocean. Note to self: swim under moonlight again.

I am enjoying this group. The group is such a crucial part of the experience. No doubt, it comes with its challenges as well; people have personalities that don't always mix well and some are better able than others to adapt and focus on the positive. Given our size, to this group's credit, we have all done well and I can confidently say that overall we enjoy each other's company. Some people came as individuals while others have come with their friends. It is interesting to observe the evolving dynamics of the group as people feel increasingly comfortable with each other. It is amazing how well you can get to know people in such a short time when you share the same hotel, eat your meals together, work together and share unique experiences together. This is a group bonding experience and not for those who wish to do it alone.... or who have no intention of learning how to do groups. I enjoy watching people become friends and their is no doubt long-terms relationships will come out of this. On this Developing World Connections experience, I can see clearly that the connections made are as much about those we make with each other as a group as those we make with the community and the locals. This group is relatively homogeneous in age and experience and best described as a group of 'young professionals.' I listen closely to people's conversations about relationships, careers, life paths and ambitions. Processing our experience and learning during the day by relating them with our peers is priceless. We will all go back to our regular lives and some of our relationships may not be sustained. But, no matter. I already now that ten years from now I may stumble across the path of someone from this group who I lost touch with and we will have that instant connection. We will reminisce about the day we built that house together, that time we blew balloons and sang and played with the kids .... about how at once, working together, we felt safe, connected and undaunted by this crazy, big and troubled world.

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