Keeping busy in Cambodia

What a busy busy few days these have been !! We have gotten a lot done and have even found some time to have a little fun. 

Here's a rundown of the past few days:

a) Composting workshop: Alice and Carolina organized a wonderful composting workshop for local farmers in Kean Svay. While Alice led the full-day educational session with FLIFLY staff, there was also a behind-the-scenes construction team that built a composting bin made primarily of bamboo (special thanks to Kofi, Janet, Sara, Cabrina, and Carolina) in the blazing sun. Even though there were a few design issues with our final composting bin, the farmers were really excited about the ideas and requested a follow-up session to receive help building their own systems. We are currently working on organizing these sessions. Attached you will find some pictures of our work and of the team present, which included ITC students, who we are very grateful to for helping us with translation! 

b) Calisthenics at the Stadium in Phnom Penh: Traditional Cambodian music. J-Lo. Bollywood. Akon. European pop. T-Pain. K Pop. Monks were present...a true cultural fusion indeed! We went to the Stadium, where a Jazzercise-like workout session is held daily from 5am to 7am, and again from 5pm to 7pm. We learned from the best, but found that it was hard to keep up with all the dance talent. WHO KNEW THERE WERE SO MANY DANCING MACHINES IN PHNOM PENH?! 

c) LFC demos: The Leveraged Freedom Chair is a hit! We have been taking it all over the city to visit related and interested organizations. Nabeela and Carolina met with Handicap International Belgium on Tuesday, and gained some more valuable contacts at this meeting. More on who we are meeting with to come in the near future! 

d) HOMESTAYS!!: Most of our team is participating in homestays for three nights with local members of the community. So far we have stayed in the homes for only one night, but it's already been quite the adventure. The girls are staying in pairs at three different homes, and we have all had some unique and funny experiences: gecko sightings, sharing family photos with our host families, pseudo slumber parties, being serenaded to sleep by Beyonce via mp3s on cell phones, being awoken by incredibly loud wedding celebrations at 4am (it's wedding season here in Cambodia, and they start EARLY!), and being kicked out of the kitchen (and spoiled with amazing food)! We are looking forward to spending more time (and eating more great food!) with our new friends in the coming days.

e) Biogas: Research is in full-swing, and we will be building a small-scale, four-cow biogas plant with a local expert next week. We are very excited about this and promise to take pictures!

f) Education: We met the MIT version of Buzz Lightyear, Professor Alan Lightman, the founding director of Harpswell Foundation. We talked about possible collaboration opportunities between Harpswell and A New Day Cambodia, the school where we have actively been teaching lessons. Prof. Lightman seemed enthusiastic and excited to explore opportunities in the coming weeks. 

g) CELEB WATCH: Our own Mengheng Touch is a celebrity in Cambodia!! He was interviewed by Voice of America this week, and had the opportunity to share his experiences being a science student at a prestigious institution in the United States (any guesses for what this institution might be?!...). Since then, he has been asked to do an interview with a local newspaper, host a science radio show slot monthly, and has been getting countless new Facebook friend requests from science enthusiasts everywhere. CONGRATULATIONS, Heng! Now please excuse me while I go friend request him myself...

and with that, let us just say we are doing well and excited for our upcoming trip to Siem Reap to see the Angkor Wat! 

Much love, 

D-Lab Cambodia (Alice, Cabrina, Carolina, Heng, Janet, Jess, Kofi, Nabeela, and Sara)