Posted by King on 03.11.2008 at 7:26 am
[This is Part Four of Aaron's "Campus Division in Cambodia" story. Here's Part Three and look out for the subsequent tales in the coming week...]
Tuesday January 1, 2008
5am felt more like the end of the night than the beginning of a day. Unfortunately, this was too early for the breakfast buffet, so we had to forgo it and instead have breakfast to go in a box. We drove and hiked out to the temples in almost complete darkness. To our surprise, there must have been hundreds of people out there making the trip to see the first sunrise of the New Year over the temple. When the sun rose up over the temple, and cast a reflection on the pool in front, it was quite astonishing. I cannot imagine a better way to ring in the New Year than the overall experience I had in Cambodia.
We continued on and saw several more temples that day, including the temple that appeared in Lara Croft, Tomb Raider 3.
For lunch, we were again taken to a local restaurant, this time a buffet. I wish I could say this was again a buffet filled with wonderful and delicious food, but alas, this story is not completely a fairy tale. Luckily, our group was not one to complain, and we survived with no international incidents of note. Due to our early start, we called it a day shortly after lunch, and went back to relax at the hotel pool. We spent the afternoon relaxing and getting ready for our upcoming time with Room to Read. For Dinner, we found a wonderful Thai restaurant in town, and we rode there on what they call a “tuk tuk”. Imagine a rickshaw, but pulled by a motorcycle. It was both relaxing and invigorating at the same time. Those of us who were meat –eaters decided to be team players, and we ordered 5 different vegetarian dishes that we all shared in the first of many Campus vegetarian food fests. This dinner more than made up for our subpar lunch. You may have heard that there is good thai food in Cambodia. You in fact heard correctly. I am also running out of synonyms for the word delicious.
We discussed our Room to Read plans and some other work issues after dinner, and then went to bed to be fresh for our final day of temple tours.
Wednesday January 2, 2008
We began early again, also enjoying the amazing breakfast at the hotel. After a morning of temple viewing and climbing, we had lunch at a restaurant within the Angkor Wat area. Sor told us he was taking us to “his restaurant”, but we are pretty sure something was lost in the translation. The food was again delectable.
In the afternoon, believe it or not, we visited more temples, bringing our total to 20 over the 3 day period. Trust me, that is a lot. All of them were amazing and all of them were decorated with beautiful engravings.
In the afternoon, we stopped at an orphanage where the children were learning the craft of leatherwork. Going in, I told myself that I would not buy anything… but then I saw the kids, and the artwork was actually pretty good. I only spent $10 got 5 different pieces. Some might say “they gave me good price”. We had bought so much stuff that when we left they all came out and waved good-bye.
After the orphanage we visited the final temple, which might have been my favorite. To get there we walked across a bridge over a small river; as surreal and mystical as all the areas were, this one took it to the next level. We sat on top of the temple and enjoyed another Cambodian Sunset along with traditional Cambodian music. I could have sat there for days and been happy.
We did not have days (4 minutes!), and we departed shortly after sunset to go to the Khmer Kitchen restaurant again and meet the Room to Read Staff. It turns out that the staff had to travel from afar, and so they were running a bit late. We killed some time browsing the local market, getting offered good price left and right. It then turned out that Room to Read was running too late, and would have to miss dinner. These are the facts of international travel. (So we discussed our itinerary and game-plan on our own, then went back to the hotel to get rested before our first school visits.)
[To Be Continued...]
Posted by admin on 03.10.2008 at 10:23 am
At the conference, IMPACT invited Better World Books to discuss our awesome business model in a three hour forum entitled “Blurring the Lines: Public Good in the Private Sector.” Jack represented us on the panel, which also had a fellow Holy Cross grad, Ken DeBlois of the Venture Consortium in Providence, RI and some folks from the Willamette University MBA program. It was very interesting and the attendees had a lot of great questions, but it was very clear that we here at Better World Books are doing something decidedly NEW. So new and innovative (I LOVE our business model) that folks at times have a hard time comprehending it. The example that jumps to mind is regarding the triple bottom line – “Even if you do value social and environmental, won’t profit always be most important?”
Now I’m no business major, but I’ve spent a lot of time trying to understand some business theory as Better World Books offers a unique opportunity to see something very exciting and new in the world of business from up close. I always start my research projects on the Wikipedia and while you won’t feel like you have an MBA by the time you’re finished with the article, you will have some ideas of good terms to use in your triple bottom line research!
If you want to hear a little more about the topic, a full podcast of this forum will be available later this month!
Posted by admin on 03.07.2008 at 5:37 pm
In honor of the holiday … Oh, hadn’t you heard? Saturday, March 7 is International Women’s Day! That’s right folks, Better World Books is keepin’ you up to date on the obscure but AWESOME holidays.
Anyway, in honor of the holiday, the Better World Books team has narrowed our list of most amazing, substantial and generally badass women (and through thorough debate and numerous arm-wrestling tournaments) down to 10. We’ll be the first to admit that it is not all inclusive, but it’s a start … Just in case you don’t feel comfortable conversing on any of these fine women, we’ve included book suggestions:
(Listed in NO particular order … seriously, that would be impossible)
So get reading and here’s your excuse to worship the ladies in your life (as if you don’t all the time)
Have your say » | Tagged Book Reviews, book lists, books, international women's day, women
Posted by Jack on 03.07.2008 at 3:01 pm
We’re currently at the Northeastern IMPACT conference (see previous post) I just got back from my forum (which was awesome!). I’m going to do some editing of a recording of the forum so a podcast of the talk is coming up soon, great stuff indeed about mobilizing students and the differences in the sectors in the business world. People asked me hard questions and I gave them honest answers [insert warm and fuzzy feeling here].
Now I’m playing Scrabble with three students at Middlsex Community College in Edison, NJ, and let me tell you, despite their smiles, they’re rough customers. Erin just laid down “Quell” on a triple word score for 45 points and is absolutely killing us.
Garima, Erin (hustler), Barum and Ham from MCC
Have your say » | Tagged Uncategorized, boston, conferences, Impact, massachusetts, Northeastern
Posted by admin on 03.07.2008 at 6:45 am
(Abby, me, Roselle) Yeah, ok, the bookmark is mirrored. You can handle it!
Hey all, I’m currently at IMPACT/Idealist conference at Northeastern University this weekend. After setting up our gear and breaking out Scrabble (I just put down “Fastens.” 64 points! All others, owned. (Without Niko here I’m totally going to win).)
You can find us in the ballroom between the lovely ladies (Jessica and Amanda) at Hostelling International USA and the folks at UNICEF USA who are soon to arrive. Later today I’ll be an expert (seriously…) on a forum entitled “Blurring the lines: Public Good in the Private Sector” whilst my killer coworkers (seen above), Roselle (Mid-South Regional Director (ATL baby!)) and Abby (Rocky Mountain Regional Director (Reppin’ Minnehaha!)), are kicking it live at the table.
Today’s highlights will include my super sweet forum (look for a podcast coming soon), our ongoing scrabble throwdown, these sweet new www.BetterWorld.com
Tomorrow is our workshop and more well-meaning shenanigans… check in often for updates (and tomorrow for photos!) shirts and the very un-Boston 50 degree weather.
Posted by King on 03.06.2008 at 9:14 am
[This is Part Three of Aaron's "Campus Division in Cambodia" story. Here's Part Two and look out for the subsequent tales in the coming week...]
Monday December 31, 2008
Before departure, we had breakfast at the hotel restaurant. This was hands down the most amazing breakfast buffet I have ever seen. Big trays of rice and noodles and stir fries and meats and eggs and bread and fruit were everywhere. The fruit selection alone would have been enough to put this breakfast over the top as one of my most amazing ever. I don’t think I even recognized half the fruits there. There was one particular fruit we all grew particularly fond of; it was white with little black spots (seeds?) all over it. We speculated what this delicious refreshing fruit could be, with guesses including winter squash, winter melon, white kiwi, and my personal favorite, 101 Dalmatian fruit. It turns out, this delicacy was called “dragon fruit”. Who knew you could grow dragons?!?1
After this delicious breakfast, we joined Sor and took a van out to the Angkor Wat temples, and began our whirlwind tour, where we saw 20 temples over 3 days.
The scene was absolutely amazing, breathtaking if you would. It is actually kind of difficult to describe; it had a magical almost mystical feel too it. I would say the trees were bigger, the grass was greener, the sky was bluer, and there were elephants and monkeys everywhere . Not to mention the huge and ornate temples. It really was like something from a movie. I could close my eyes and see what it would have been like to see this ancient kingdom in full effect with the hustle and bustle of people in full regalia; this is really difficult to capture in words, but the feeling was very surreal.
For lunch, we were taken to a nice local restaurant. Unfortunately, our vegetarian travelers had some minor difficulties with the prepared food they brought us, but an international incident was avoided yet again as we were able to get them some good substitute food.
After the meal, we returned to Angkor Wat to spend more time at the temple. It was again a peaceful experience to walk around and just feel the history and greatness of the place. As the afternoon faded away, our peaceful trance was snapped as we were ushered away to go climb another temple to see the last sunset of the year. “Hurry up, the sun sets in 4 minutes!” we were told, and so we hustled up the winding side of a huge hill. It turns out we made it in plenty of time, but we gained a valuable joke, shouting “4 minutes!” any time we needed to hurry.
I am running out of synonyms for the word amazing, and even Shift F7 is not helping, but this sunset was indeed amazing. I cannot imagine a better way to say goodbye to the year than our experience sitting high atop a temple in Cambodia.
After the sunset, we headed back to the hotel. This was in fact New Year’s eve, and we were debating our options. To the question of “how can you have an amazing New Year’s Even in Cambodia?” there is really no wrong answer. Our one caveat was that we were scheduled to go on a sunrise tour the next morning to see the first sunrise of the New Year come in over the temple. Our itinerary indicated that we would need to be ready to leave the Hotel at 6AM. Sor quickly corrected this for us, and pointed in that in fact 6AM would be too late (4 minutes!), and we had better plan on being ready to go at 5AM. That is quite a daunting prospect to take into a New Years Eve celebration, but we refused to let it phase us. We did decide to stay at the hotel for their gala, so that we would not venture out into trouble.
The gala began with a huge feast, which we enjoyed thoroughly. The evening quickly digressed however, as a couple of singers struggled to entertain the diversely mixed international crowd with renditions of several timeless American classics. It would be rude of me to say it sounded like Karaoke, but I’m not gonna lie, it sounded like Karaoke.
We made the most of it, sitting on the balcony overlooking their performance, enjoying each others company and the ridiculousness of the situation. We reflected on all we had seen that day, and still letting it sink in that we were in fact in Cambodia. I think we collectively managed a couple hours of sleep before our 5AM departure.
[To Be Continued...]
Posted by King on 03.05.2008 at 10:17 am
[This is Part Two of Aaron's "Campus Division in Cambodia" story. Here's Part One and look out for the subsequent tales in the coming week...]
Sunday, December 30th, 2007
After a few hours sleep we got up to explore the city. Our itinerary was to take us to Cambodia later that night, so we had limited time. Our consensus was to visit a nearby Pagoda. There were golden statues and tributes to Buddha all around where people could light incense and pray to Buddha and hope for good luck. The atmosphere was peaceful, serene, refreshing and relaxing, a good omen for things to come.
(L-R: Me (Aaron), Natasha, Damara, Niko)
We regrouped at the hotel to catch our next flight to Cambodia.
We arrived later that evening in Siem Reap, the second largest airport in Cambodia. This was the type of airport that lets you step right off the plane into the fresh air before entering the airport. The night air was crisp clear and refreshing, but alas we were ushered inside to complete yet another round of customs forms and visa applications. For all the bureaucracy of international travel, it really is still worth it.
When we stepped out the other side, some Rood to Read staff, our tour guide and, driver were there greeting us with a giant Room to Read banner welcoming us to the country.
The fanfare and pageantry was far from over. At the hotel, some dancers in full regalia perfomed a traditional Cambodian dance, complete with flower petal tossing. At first, we did not even realize that this grandiose performance was for us, it was so over the top. It was quite a humbling experience. After posing for some photos with the dancers, we showered up and went out for a delicious dinner at Khmer Kitchen.
We were joined by Tith from Room to Read, and were able to get some good preliminary information to prepare us for our upcoming days in Cambodia. We went back to the hotel, relaxed a bit, and then slept in amazing comfort. The next day was to begin our tours of the temples in the Area. Our fearless tour guide, Sor (yes, pronounced as in “sore nose”) gave us the option to start as late as we wanted. Let’s be honest, we chose 10AM, to make sure we were properly rested and ready to go.
[To Be Continued...]
Posted by admin on 03.04.2008 at 9:36 am
Slate Magazine ran an article the other day in their “Hot Document” series that’s sure to leave you shaking your head over what leaves high-schoolers scratching theirs.
…the new education-advocacy group Common Core posed these and 30 similar questions about history and literature to 1,200 17-year-old high-school students (below on the following four pages), it discovered that American teenagers are “stunningly ignorant.”Common Core puts some of the blame on six years of George W. Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” law, which forced schools to concentrate lessons on standardized-test measures for math and reading at the expense of education in the humanities. The organization debuted on Feb. 26 with a press conference that unveiled the findings in a glossy pamphlet titled Still at Risk, an allusion to the landmark 1983 education survey, A Nation At Risk. That earlier survey famously stated, “If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war.” Apparently, we lost.
The test posed a series of questions whose answers even the slowest-witted high-schoolers might reasonably be expected to know. But only one question (Who gave the “I Have A Dream” speech in 1963?, Page 3), yielded the correct response on a near-unanimous basis (97 percent). Only 61 percent knew what the Renaissance was (Page 2), and only half knew why the Federalist papers were written (Page 3). Fewer than half knew when the Civil War was fought (see below). And this test was multiple-choice!
(Full story and full test over here)
Have your say » | Tagged Uncategorized, literacy
Posted by admin on 03.03.2008 at 1:09 pm
Every once in a while, you read a book that crosses the line of entertainment and into the realm of life changing. I am no longer the same since reading SOLD by Patricia McCormick. An easy read, this cleverly written tale follows thirteen year old Lakshimi’s life in Nepal , and the devastation that led to her sale into child prostitution. The realities of the torment that follow, literally had me covering my mouth, in an attempt to stifle the moans of anguish I felt for her. As I read of Lakishimi’s struggles to survive in this world so new and so devastatingly cruel, I found myself, hand over my heart, thinking of ways to rescue her. But in the end, I found myself sighing with relief and celebrating her victory. READ THIS BOOK! It will give you a perspective on life that is sure to change you forever…hopefully.
Have your say » | Tagged Uncategorized, book reviews, kim, women
Posted by admin on 03.03.2008 at 9:47 am
Check out this month’s edition of our recurring feature, Worldfund’s Student of the Month. Worldfund is our Latin American non-profit literacy partner and we look to support them in any way we can as they support youths such as:
Seventeen-year-old Bruno was born and raised in Salvador, Bahia, where he lives with his mother, a domestic worker, and his two younger sisters.
Bruno has always liked electronics and is working towards becoming an engineer. When he was 14, he was accepted into the Steve Biko Institute’s three-year, intensive after-school Oguntec Program, which prepares disadvantaged Afro-Brazilian students for the vestibular (university entrance exam). Last year, at age 16, Bruno took his first exam for admission to the Federal University of Bahia (UFBA) and passed the first phase for Electrical Engineering. Bruno graduated from high school in December 2007 and hopes to begin his university studies in 2008.
Bruno believes that his participation in the Oguntec Program was the best thing that ever happened to him. It was as a student in this program that he learned that the word “quit” is not part of his vocabulary. He also learned that for a young man from a poor neighborhood, completing high school is not enough. He needs to dream of attending university. Bruno’s goals include attending university, establishing a career, and changing the economic situation of his family.
As Bruno states, “Attending university will make me the first, the first child, the first grandson, the first nephew in one generation to believe in the DREAM. Afterwards, I would like to return the Steve Biko Institute and become a professor in the Oguntec Program which I believe should always continue. It was at the Institute that I learned to have a social commitment.”
Have your say » | Tagged Impact, Our Partners, brazil, Impact, Our Partners, partner updates, worldfund
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