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Last week of volunteering - Phnom Penh

Fighting the battle with own quality standards and preparing for the end of my volunteering placement

semi-overcast 33 °C

In my ‘normal’ work life, I am almost exclusively surrounded by bright people who directly or indirectly push each other to work harder, faster and more efficiently, putting huge emphasis on quality. In my ‘volunteering’ work life, I have been forced to make some compromises. I don’t mind compromises in principal. But there is such a thing as compromise threshold and I have just about reached it.

Aside from a number of ad-hoc tasks I have been approached with since Monday, there is the Facebook company presence enhancement proposal which I want to finish before leaving my volunteering placement tomorrow. With the C-level peeps eagerly awaiting fruits of my labour, I am coaching a marketing officer on things like how to structure proposals, do cost/benefit analysis and create process maps. The task in itself is not difficult and so far I have completed 90% of the work myself. But there is the 10% which are starting to drive me up the wall.
One of hundreds of adjucent motorbike shops

One of hundreds of adjucent motorbike shops


Over the past two weeks it has transpired that when it comes to some marketing staff, common sense is not that common and anything other than following detailed instructions is not to be expected. You might think I am too demanding and should cut him some slack for the sake of cultural differences and lack of experience. Trust me – I have. That is why 90% of the work is ready and the 10% goes through endless loops of draft – review – discussion – draft – review – discussion – you get the idea.

Don’t take me wrong. I have really enjoyed my volunteering experience and enlarge I feel that my professional background as a consultant has equipped me to make a real difference and contribute to my adopted company for the last 2 months. Yet, there seem to be some people that irrespective of the patience, time and guidance you give them, they just don’t have the skills to do the work. Now the ‘nice me’ says – give him more time, go through it with him again and finish it together’. There is also the ‘not so nice me’ which has a different idea. For now, the ‘nice me’ is keeping the upper hand.

Given that this is my last week, I have set myself a goal of going to yoga or Pilates at least twice this week. Despite some temptation to skip my Monday lesson, I went ahead with it and got rewarded by a huge plate of 12 fried Chinese dumplings for $1.50. Delicious treat worth writing about. With two months of free food in the guest house, I am starting to register signs of noodle and rice overdose so anything not consisting of one of these two ingredients is a major reason for celebration.

Whilst my Monday lesson went in the usual semi-relaxing mode, yesterday was completely different. Encouraged by the arrival of ten new yoga enthusiasts, the instructor decided to demonstrate exactly how hard yoga can be. Still keeping to the ‘basic’ level of exercises, it felt like an hour of permanent full body muscle tension. Although my legs are fairly strong, my arms muscles have panacotta consistence and by the end of the session, I was seriously questioning if I ever will be able to exude enough energy to untangle the band out of my disheveled hair.

The not so nice side effect of being one of the longest serving volunteering members is the regular departure of people I became good friends with. This time it was a wanna-be American journalist Bryce who managed to enroll into a Peace Corps in Senegal and was heading to Korea and Japan to enjoy his three weeks between volunteering and proper work. Always happy to hit the town on whatever pretence we might find, Tuesday night was spent in the Blue Pumpking cake shop / restaurant overlooking the riverside.

A lovely night of average food and pleasant conversation finished far too early and once again another person was gone, probably never to be seen again. This reminded me and Mikkel, a Danish volunteer from Copenhagen, that Saturday is our last day in the Tattoo guest house and so starting today, after-work drinks are a must. Bring it on!

Posted by TheDukes 18:01 Archived in Cambodia Tagged cambodia phnom_penh volunteering

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