IMG_0576Last week we ran another workshop here in Siem Reap. This was important for two reasons: first, it was the  first one run for the terrific NGO Sala Bai, which takes some of the country’s poorest young adults and gives them training in the hospitality industry which leads directly to real jobs. I had met the Director last year while running the workshop up in Banteay Chmar for Enfants du Mekong, and he asked if I could do the same for his students. Of course I said yes, and now, a year later, the first of these is completed.

Secondly, this one was special because it was the first to be run by someone other than me. Lucia is a native Ecuadorean, educated in the US and now living in Singapore. She is also a soon-to-be-published poet! Yes, it was a big step for me to hand my ‘baby’ over to someone else, but I knew Lucia would be safe hands and, indeed, she was.

The theme was home and hospitality and the discussions about what makes someone feel at home led to poems and stories about moving away from home, homesickness, the importance of education and facing new challenges. As is usual, none of these had written creatively in English before, but even more importantly, none of them had had the opportunity to express their fears and goals in this way. The closing ‘book launch’ was a true celebration of their work and their success. Lots of dancing, music and food, with everyone, including the teachers and the Director, joining in. I was so glad to be able to be there. IMG_0574IMG_0563