Khmer New Year

Today was the last day of the Khmer New Year holiday, an extra day added to the official three days because they fell on a weekend. I was surprised that almost everything remained closed.

This is the ABA bank which is probably the most used bank in Cambodia because they so aggressively got stores to accept smartphone payments. Every place you go has an ABA QR code on display. I went by this branch today just to check to see if they were open because they are a bit different from other banks. They don’t keep banking hours! They are open 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM six days a week! Unheard of, in my experience! (Note table with red cover holding food and drink offerings for the spirits on this holiday.)

Khmer New Year

As with any major national celebration in any country, the Khmer New Year has several practices and rituals that are considered part of the event. One practice in Cambodia for the new year is the erecting of some sort of traditional rural display that harkens back to the kingdom’s ancient roots.

This financial institution has a rather prominent display outside their main office. Featured items are traditional music instruments, fish traps, straw hats, wooden tools.
Outside a resort hotel in Phnom Penh is this display focused on hats worn by field workers and different types of woven baskets.
The girls vocational school where I have mass on Monday mornings went for a scaled-down display with just a few sections of the knotted palm branches that are used to make roofs.

Khmer New Year

Probably two thirds or three fourths of Phnom Penh’s population leaves the city for the Khmer New Year celebrations which take place in the family home in the provinces. But the new year is also a time for foreigners to visit Cambodia and experience the special celebrations.

This year we were blessed by a return visit by Ronise Barreras who worked at DDP about fifteen years ago when we created a new job position. We wanted our students to have more than just an academic experience and Ronise came to help expose our students to new ideas and activities to broaden their understanding of the world and themselves.

Colin Allen (blue shirt) worked at DDP just before Ronise and they had met online but today was the first time we all met together in person along with Darren, Ronise’s husband. We had a delightful hour or two before I had to leave, catching up and just learning about each other’s lives fifteen or twenty years later.

Khmer New Year

The Khmer New Year will be celebrated April 13, 14, and 15, and so today is New Year’s Eve. It’s a bit late to be shopping for your roast pig for the new year dinner, but if you don’t have it yet, you better get moving.

What? Me, hot?

The last few days have seen the temperature at 100ºF. It is really hot in the deaf offices where we don’t have air conditioning. Heat is a relative entity for people here, though. Notice these two young women dressed in moderately heavy jackets, long pants, even gloves–and never even thinking that it’s hot!

Staff Training #3

The staff training concluded today with several exercises to enable the hearing staff to participate in activities led by deaf staff–using sign language but no interpreters. Deaf people routinely participate in hearing-led activities which they don’t full understand. Today the hearing people learned what it is like to participate without understanding all that is being said.

In this group a deaf man told a story and the hearing staff had to “listen” and then repeat it.
In another group, a deaf teacher showed how to make paper flowers.
Finally, before the staff from Kampong Cham Province had to leave, staff were invited to give their reflection and their learnings and understandings from the three days together.

Staff Training #2

Today was the second day of teacher training at the Deaf Development Programme. An on-going problem is communications between deaf staff and hearing staff. The deaf people complain that hearing staff do not use sign language and so the deaf are left out. There was an exercise today where three groups, each with deaf and hearing staff, worked to accomplish a goal.

Each group or team had to make a small vehicle from common items like plastic water bottles and then propel the car to the finish line. Here one team prepares to launch its car.
These two teams powered their cars with air from balloons.
After the competition, Thuch Sophy and Julie Lawler helped the groups talk about how they worked with each other.

Staff Training

As part of the Khmer New Year holiday break, DDP is taking advantage of the students’ absence to offer further training on child protection to the staff. Here the staff engage in a quick game on their afternoon break.