The first week of work is officially in the books.

Somehow I’m surprised that I managed to function through it, especially during the first few days. See, I may have sabotaged myself slightly. As I mentioned in my previous post, I was in Paris and had a week to go until Cambodia. Little did you know that I was in either an airplane or an airport that entire weekend, only to arrive in Phnom Penh Sunday evening with around twelve hours to go before I began my first day at AAC.

Yes, I am insane.

I certainly couldn’t hide my jet lag from my supervisor and his boss, the Head of Programmes, during the my morning orientation meeting, despite my attempts at clasping my hands in front of my face while furrowing my brow to make myself look intrigued rather than exhausted. We decided to take a break so that I could get some coffee (and stew in embarrassment). My physical woes didn’t stop there though; the intense travel schedule knocked a cold, albeit a mild one, into my body as well. For the next few days I was sniffling, sneezing, and coughing in between typing and reading.  In retrospect, I should have just taken a day off to rest and recover, but the intern in me, wanting to impress and prove my strength, soldiered on. Admittedly, I also wanted to bask in the office aircon rather than the stifling heat in my apartment.

While this may seem like a dreadful beginning to my internship, believe me when I say it has in reality gone really well! I’ve been welcomed warmly at the office, and I’m optimistic about the team there. Considering the fact that my supervisor is the only person in the Education Programme, I’ll be busy for sure. Finalising up my activity plan indicated as much! Currently I’m analysing policy and legal frameworks for primary education to help inform an advocacy campaign on education accountability and transparency, and there’s already a field visit planned in two weeks to Oddar Meanchey (a province in the north) to see how our partners are implementing the Promoting Rights in Schools framework. Even though I’ve attended two meetings conducted in Khmer- with sprinkles of English here and there- I feel more inspired to continue learning the language rather than intimidated (despite my sheepishness at my low level).

Right now I’ve been trying to remember the little details. Recognising that “one” in Khmer is មួយ (“muoy”), having heard it several times in a meeting, when someone took a group photo and started his count-off with it. The tendency of my roommate to end every sentence in her texts with interrobangs. Eating num korm (rice-flour and filled with a coconut and palm sugar mixture and wrapped in banana leaves) at a meeting and thinking fondly about my time in Malaysia (and just eating Southeast Asian food again). The fact that the HR Head started off his orientation with a “Welcome Erin D’Amelio!” slide on it. That I managed to successfully avoid a sudden downpour upon leaving the office. These are important memories.

With my first full weekend in Phnom Penh starting tomorrow and not a sniffle in sight, I’m feeling ready to explore and learn!