William and Mary Law School

Week 1 in Cambodia

                So, I have successfully finished my first week of work in Cambodia. From the moment I entered the office, I hit the ground running- meeting with a client, writing a memo on condominium contracts, compiling answers to a Russian client’s initial questions, and researching the differences in starting up an agricultural business from an animal farm business. When we have down time, Vlada (the other WM intern at BNG with me) and I are working together on a research project focusing on intercountry adoptions and the relationships between Cambodia and other signatory countries of the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption.

                Other than what we have been doing at work, getting to work itself has been an adventure. We’ve finally learned how to navigate through traffic across the swarms of motos. It would seem that the rule of the road is just to go and hope for the best. We’ve also found a great local Khmer restaurant for breakfast. Easily identifiable as the only white people there between 7h30 and 8h00, they have already learned our regular orders, which consists of a fried potato/onion/bean muffin and a weird ball filled with coconut and bean paste (we think). Either way, it is delicious. “Cambodian Starbucks” has also been added to our daily routine. Unlike an American Starbucks, this is a street side vendor that sells cigarettes, gum, chips and delicious drinks. We’ve found that the iced coffee with milk (condensed milk) and plain iced coffee (careful it has A LOT of sugar) are our favorites.  

                So far, everyday is unique and I often find myself thinking that what I am doing is the most random thing ever. But it is all a part of the Cambodian experience. I never would have imagined that one day I’d be riding in the back of a tuk-tuk, racing from work to a Green Development meeting to avoid getting caught in the middle of a huge storm, or attending the National Cambodian Trial Team tournament, where I got to meet the US Ambassador and many great and talented Khmer law students. Last Friday night, I even met Cambodian royalty (her great uncle is the King) who grew up in the California. She then invited both Vlada and I to talk on her radio talk show about our work, experience, and dedication to Cambodia. We should be doing that near the end of June. We also recommended that she invite WM interns at IBJ to share their experiences! Yesterday, we were finally able to figure out our housing situation. For now, we have moved into a great guest house that kind of feels more like a camp than a hotel. There is a community area in the downstairs (from where I am currently writing this blog), which shows nightly movies at 20h00 and serves as a restaurant. It’s a really easy place to meet great people. As of mid-June, we will be cat sitting for an American teacher living in Cambodia while she is on vacation. I met her through the local swing dance club- I even led them in a new dance, the Jitterbug Stroll.