In about an hour, I'm starting a two day journey to Cambodia. If all goes as scheduled, I'll be celebrating the new year in flight and arrive in Phnom Penh Tuesday evening for two weeks visiting community development programs in Cambodia.
In June, I received an invitation to serve as a fellowship partner to a Cambodian woman coming to Missoula for a 5 week fellowship through the U.S. Department of State. Pen Bopha spent much of October with our crew at NCBI, and it was an incredible honor to have her with us.
Bopha's first day with NCBI.
Bopha is currently a training manager for H.E.D.C. International, whose mission is "to transform Cambodia into a peaceful and prosperous nation by empowering and building the capacity of people at all levels of society to effectively lead and efficiently manage their local and national development." Bopha was selected to be a fellow through a highly competitive process that identified emerging women leaders in S.E. Asia. The fellowship program aims to equip participants with concrete tools to advance development efforts in their own community, as well as to strengthen ties between people and countries.
It was a gift to see my work, community and country through Bopha's eyes. I appreciated her astute observations about political and social interactions in the U.S., and was moved every day by her absolute joy in discovering so many new things - from pine trees (Amie! It's a Christmas tree!) to carving pumpkins to her first snow.
It is now my honor to be hosted by Bopha in her country, in what will be my fist visit to S.E. Asia, and my first time in a country where I speak nothing of the local language. I am excited about many aspects of this adventure, but most of all looking forward to seeing my friend again!