Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Yes, I know. I have been completely missing in action when it comes to keeping up with my blog. I don't really know why. I guess the truth is, I just haven't felt like blogging. There has been a lot change since my last post...I'm officially living back in the States, started back at my job and have been spending lots of time catching up with friends and family. It's been great to be home, especially getting to spend time with family and friends and getting to meet all the new adorable babies that arrived while I was away!

On the flip side there are a lot of things that I really miss about Cambodia, mainly the laid back and fairly stress-free lifestyle I had while there. I also really miss the people. I keep in touch with a few of them still but definitely miss not seeing their smiling faces on a daily basis.

Anyways...I just wanted to let everyone know that a) I'm alive and back in the States and b) that I do plan to resume my blog posts after a much needed sabbatical from my sabbatical.

I also promise to post some long overdue pictures from the remainder of my trip. Adam and I had an amazing time finishing our trip to Vietnam and Laos and Jenny and I had a blast in Cambodia. I am a lucky girl to have such a great brother/boyfriend/friend - all willing to fly thousands of miles to come visit me! You three are the best and I had such a great time getting to travel with all of you! Now if only I could talk Deloitte into giving me another sabbatical....

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Vietnam - Part 1

Sorry for the short post but wanted to quickly share a few pictures from my travels over the past two weeks. I haven't had time to upload my pictures yet, but here is a link to Adam's blog which shares a few highlights of our trip so far.

We started our trip in Phnom Penh with Ryan then Adam and I headed to Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Sapa and now we're headed to Halong Bay. Hopefully you can tell by the pictures that we're having a great time so far!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Guess who's coming to Cambodia??

Yep, this guy. Ry Shooter Fly aka my little brother!

(Ryan is going to kill me for putting up this picture, but it's a big sister's duty to embarrass their little brothers, right?)

Ryan's due to land in Phnom Penh in less than 12 hours and I absolutely can't wait! Ryan and I have an amazing ability to get ourselves into hilarious situations when we're together and I can only imagine what's in store for us over the next two weeks in Cambodia.

Love you Ry and CAN'T WAIT TO SEE YOU!

We'll be missing you and thinking of you mom! Wishing you could be here with us. Love you bunches.

Cupcakes and Corn on the Cob

Friday was my last day at CITA and it was a day filled with presents, photo shoots and cupcakes and corn on the cob. I have had such an incredible experience at CITA and have so much I want to share - I promise to share those thoughts in detail in another post sometime. In short, I feel incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to work with such amazing people and hope to make it back to CITA some day.

Mr. Rong Chhun presenting me with my Thankfulness Certificate

Mr. Rong Chhun, Sophea and Sotras

Goodbye presents

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Goodbye Song

With my last day at CITA quickly approaching, I came into work today to find my colleagues all gathered around one computer. As soon as I walked in the door, they motioned for me to come over - they all seemed very excited to show me what they had found. They showed me the following video, explaining they had found it just for me. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry and I think I did a little of both.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


As mentioned in a previous post, I work for a pretty incredible guy...Mr. Rong Chhun. Following that post, many of you have asked what it is exactly that I do for the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association (CITA). At first this appeared to be a simple answer…I was brought here to facilitate and develop CITA’s long term strategic plan (essentially a guide for them to carry out their mission and objectives). However, after being here a few months, I’ve realized my task here is much broader. Yes, I have helped CITA develop their strategic plan, but more importantly, they are continually looking to me to build the capacity of the CITA staff and leadership and provide them with tools and resources to run a more effective organization long after I am gone.

I can’t say this has been an easy job, all meetings require a translator, meetings are often cancelled or postponed, we seem to have more holidays than work days and I don’t think anyone at the organization really understands what a strategic plan is.

In spite of these challenges, I’ve really enjoyed my time at CITA. My colleagues are great, a few speak limited English, and one speaks English fairly well who acts as my translator. The actual office on the other hand…is far from great. It’s one big open room with six desks. No AC, just one central fan, and a very disgusting bathroom that pretty much only consists of a hole in the ground. Funny to think I used to complain because my office in SF didn’t have a view of the golden gate bridge...what I would give now for a toilet, yes, just a simple, functioning, standing toilet!

The outside of CITA

The office

Sotras and Sophea - colleagues

Sotras and Petras - colleagues

The dreaded bathroom

For those of you who are interested in learning more about CITA, and why organizations like CITA are needed in Cambodia…I’ve included some interesting data points about current issues teachers face in Cambodia and the impacts to the education system (or lack thereof):

• Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in the world. Life expectancy is 56 and 80% of the population lives on less than $2 a day.
• As of 2009, Cambodia’s ranking on the Human Development Index (HDI) list was 137 out of 182 countries.
• In addition to being a relatively poor country with a low HDI ranking, Cambodia is also near the top of the list of the most corrupt countries in the world as ranked by Transparency International.
• Cambodia’s population is very young – 50% of the population are under 18 years old.
• During the Pol Pot (Khmer Rouge) era teachers were systematically killed and the education system was largely destroyed. In 1970 there were more than 200,000 teachers in Cambodia and by 1980 there were only 5,000.

The education system has slowly been rebuilt – however, many challenges still remain.
• Teachers receive a salary of between $20–40 a month which is not enough to cover basic needs,
• Curriculum is outdated, facilities are extremely limited and teachers receive very little training and continuing education.
• In a recent report issued by a partner NGO focusing on education here in Cambodia – the most widely cited causes of teacher dissatisfaction were inadequate pay, followed closely by corruption/nepotism and poor leadership.

Corruption in the education system is rampant here (students paying teachers to allow them in the classroom, paying for tests, teachers required to give headmasters a portion of their salary, and the list goes on and on).

It is exam week here in Cambodia (all 12th graders take final exams to graduate high school) so today, Mr. Rong Chhun decided to take me on a little field trip to see some of the corruption first hand. We visited a few high schools and it was absolutely shocking to see the blatant corruption. Kids, adults, police were gathered in masses along the school gates trying to sell photocopies of the exam answers to students. It was absolutely surreal to see.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Thankfulness Certificate

Yesterday Mr. Rong Chhun asked me to type up a certificate for myself as a thank you from CITA. I typed exactly what he stated, with the exception of changing Mr. Crystal Scott to Ms.

Not sure which news I should break to him first...a) that I'm not a man or b) that it's not common practice to ask someone to make their own thank you certificates. Too funny.

Thankfulness Certificate
The Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association
Extreme Gratefulness and Respectfulness

To Ms. Crystal Scott

Who has sacrificed and contributed to serve in the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association. Through volunteering, without charging any amount of money, you have strengthened our association. I wish you happiness and prosperity in your life accompanying with the five blessings from Buddha: enjoyment of long living life, successfulness, sovereignty, wealth and strength.

Phnom Penh, Cambodia
August 2010
Rong Chhun, CITA President