All-Staff Training from a Fellow’s Perspective

Martina (left) during one of the team-building activities
Martina (left) during one of the team-building activities
It is now been nearly 2 months I started to work at BOOKBRIDGE Learning Center Siem Reap and the time has flown away so fast! So many things done and so much more to accomplish!

We just came back from an amazing 3-day workshop at the BOOKBRIDGE Learning Center Angtasom. Here, the Cambodian team, joined by some Community Heroes from Sri Lanka and Mongolia, Uuganaa, Sampath and Sujitha had engaged in a productive discussion about the challenges faced, the weaknesses and strengths of each center and how to efficiently move forward and make our learning centers more sustainable and quality-oriented. In this light, we brainstormed on possible solutions to be adopted and how we could fit them within a broader scope for the long-term goal of BOOKBRIDGE.

The experience has been of extreme importance for me under many aspects: first of all, I had the pleasure to meet incredibly dedicated people who gave me an insight into the world of BOOKBRIDGE outside my learning center and how similar our problems are and the attempts to cope with them. I could learn from their mistakes and from their successes. Moreover, the presence of Community Heroes from other countries and especially the participation of Uuganaa, the first Community Hero of all, has been necessary to analyze our problems from a different perspective and try to find innovative solutions.

Martina (left) in discussion with Uuganaa and other participants
Martina (left) in discussion with Uuganaa and other participants
Secondly, from a more personal angle, talking to community heroes, teachers and librarians enlarged my understanding of Cambodia and its culture, its diversity and the greatness and resilience of these people to be catalyst for a change in their communities. I learned about their past, why they became Community Heroes and the hardships they were and are going through in order to make their dreams come true. Theirs are stories of sacrifice, love and most importantly humanity that brought them all together where they are and made of them the brilliant persons they are today.

Sothika Khoeun from Angtasom Learning Center during one of the workshops
Sothika Khoeun from Angtasom Learning Center during one of the workshops
Finally, in this trip I had a touch of a different Cambodia, a more rural country where tourists are absent and roads are unpaved. Where shopkeepers do not speak any English and the only restaurants open serve Khmer food. Cambodia hides a variety of landscapes that someone cannot grasp by living in a city like Siem Reap: fields punctuated by rice cultivations, jungle and orchards; mountains covered in lush green vegetation as well as a sea that offers great chances for escaping the constant heat of the daylight.

Overall, the journey has been one of professional and personal growth for me and I am sure it was a similar experience for all the participants. I wish all of them the best of luck in their educational endeavors and to find the strength to overcome difficult times thanks to a supportive team of committed and kind people.

P.S. We had some silly moments too, like you see in this picture!

There were also some silly moments at the All-Staff Training Cambodia
There were also some silly moments…

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