Week 10: My last week of 1L Summer in Phnom Penh

Just like that, my ten weeks in Cambodia have expired. Time is elusive. When I think back to my first days in Cambodia and at ODM, it feels like ages ago. I was so “green” by comparison. I’ve learned so much, and I’ve seen and experienced even more.  And yet, the ten weeks seemed to fly by, each week passing before I had a chance to process it.

This week, my topic pages passed through the editing stages. The documents and sources I used have been uploaded to CKAN (many thanks to another intern, who I’m told is based in New York). They’ll be finalized and published in the near future.

The majority of my week, as you may have guessed, has been dedicated to wrapping up my portion of the infrastructure project. Daniel and I met several times at the beginning of the week to prioritize and determine how to most efficiently use my remaining time. I’m proud to say that after all of my work, we have one, cohesive dataset. I sifted through and organized hundreds upon hundreds of projects by various financiers from several data sources. In the end, our main dataset has boiled down to about 50 projects that meet our criteria for inclusion based on: project location, approval date, sector, total project cost, risk categories, and development of new facilities. Most importantly, I wrote and refined my methodological statement so others could follow my footsteps through the infrastructure maze. I look forward to seeing the finished product once it is a published profile on the website.

My work for Open Development Mekong opened my eyes to a variety of topics within the region, from the current and future challenges that climate change presents, to the complex world of internationally-financed infrastructure and development. My work allowed me to hone my research and writing skills, distilling a massive topic down to a manageable summary, and I learned new data-processing skills as I waded into the vast waters of open data. I truly enjoyed and am grateful for the enriching experience!

Last weekend, James and I traveled to Hanoi and Ha Long Bay, Vietnam. It was the perfect trip to wrap up our weekend warrior missions in Southeast Asia. It had been ten years since I was last in Vietnam, and my how it has changed! But that is certainly no surprise, especially after my work on the infrastructure project, I know just how much development money has been poured into Vietnamese infrastructure in the last two decades! It is impressive. Despite all the change, some things remained true to my past experiences there, namely the wildly delicious food and coffee!

Tomorrow, I continue my travels for a few more weeks before returning home to the States. Michigan first, then down to Virginia for the beginning of the semester! My 1L summer was more than I could have imagined. Cambodia threw several challenges my way: tonsillitis, a stomach bug, a head cold, a cancelled flight, a stolen phone, and some serious humidity. But it was well worth it. Sharing the challenges, rewards, and joys of the experience was the best part; I’m grateful for James’ presence and friendship along the way.

Finally, a sincere “thank you” to Daniel and Open Development Mekong, William & Mary Law School, Professor Warren, and Denise & Charles Koch for the opportunity. My world-view is bigger; my awareness is broader; Southeast Asia is de-mystified. I’m ready to apply my unique experiences to my future studies and career with a sense of purpose and passion.