Joelle’s first week in Siem Reap!

February 17, 2019

This post was first published on the Global Nomadic website.

“I arrived in Siem Reap, Cambodia in the early morning after a stopover in Bangkok. The first impression was just fantastic. Right from the beginning, I could smell the fragrance of the Frangipani flowers I had read about, but, never experienced!

The guesthouse I’m staying at had organized the Tuk-tuk pick-up which was waiting patiently for me to process my visa.

First of all, driving away from an airport in a tuk-tuk sets the mood already to both something close to an evanescent time and romance. As few Europeans were arriving with me, I also exchanged glances with other young volunteers, backpackers and parents like typical Angkor tourists.

A day of wonder started. I met with Luisa Gentile, the person in charge of ‘Professionals doing good’ in the afternoon. We did the necessary errands; buying a SIM card, establishing a Cambodian mobile phone number, even installing the “PassApp”- a newly created Application that facilitates ordering a tuk-tuk from anywhere to everywhere and with no surprising costs upon arrival! Some say. they missed the haggling, but in my case, I soon discovered how practical it is!

Luisa even let me in on the best vegetable’ dealers at the market, where I started to buy my first tomatoes and cucumbers!!! Coming from snowed up Germany, it felt rather strange to buy these summer staples here in Cambodia.

My first day at work was a bit of a whirlwind of information, which is normal, but amid this overwhelming feeling, I also had the joy to discover that the association had readied a very nice blue bike for me. I suddenly felt very welcomed and blessed by their generosity. Indeed, the previous day, I had tried biking with one of the guest house’s bicycle- let’s just say my commute would have been much more difficult!

While information filled my head, even Keisha JWOC Fundraising and Communications Manager recognized she had: “never talked that much, in a long time!”. I must not have paid enough attention to all the street names, because the morning after, when it was time to head toward work, I started mixing up all the streets, the architectural landmarks and ended up on unpaved roads! I met lovely Cambodians who clearly thought I was lost and kept trying to help me find back my way to the association!!! I didn’t mind so much being lost (I discovered some nice back roads for later days and took some pictures!). However, being late at work on the second/third and fourth day was becoming a concern for me. Well, Kea whom I voiced my concerns to, saved me: “after the 3rd stop light, turn right”, and it worked!!!

What was hard for me the first few nights/days, was the heat!!! I was not used to it anymore, even from last summer! My body had to adjust and get acclimated again to the 30/35 degrees Celsius. The silver lining of this heat is of course the discovery of all the fruits, vegetables even taro ice cream, which makes it OK to sweat a bit too much. You just need to drink more!!

Right from the start, JWOC staff was very welcoming and included me in all their gatherings, lunches, and outings. After week one, I was on a nice track and felt very happy I decided to come volunteer.

My work so far is related to a change in the organization’s strategy and I will use my previous background in fundraising for Higher Education institutions. I will also help analyzed, proposed new metrics and streamlined some of the mediums used by JWOC to improve their overall communication.

The magic is to be continued.”

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  1. Tenille Noya

    Really nice article if your first experience there, Joelle. You are a great woman! I hope is continues to be a mutually beneficial time for everyone, and enjoy!

    • Joelle Millery

      Hello Tenille,
      It’s so nice to see that you read my little post about my first week here in Siem Reap. You will sooooon read about my last week here too, snif!
      See you soon in Germany! Hi to Manuel and Lani!

  2. Savon Leam

    WOW! That’s amazing.
    I would like to say big thank to Joelle for being here to help us.
    I wish you all the best and great memorable in Cambodia.

    • Joelle Millery

      Hello Savon,
      Thank you too, to be such energetic woman! Continue to test me with your businesses ideas; it will be my pleasure to help you! Don’t be afraid to ask me anything, even after I left JWOC.

  3. Janet Johnson

    Welcome to JWOC, Joelle! What an array of very useful experience you bring. I am looking forward to more of your posts. Frangipani does smell heavenly, doesn’t it?

    • Communications Manager

      Thank you, Janet! We’ll be posting more of our Scholarship students’ creative writing pieces soon, so definitely be on the lookout for those! There’s nothing like the smell of frangipani on a cool morning – Keisha

    • Joelle Millery

      Dear Janet,

      Thank you very much Janet, for your warm welcome to JWOC, …. that I just read (04/03/2019).
      Clearly some kind of alarm should be set each time a comment is written, so that one can reply in a timely manner!
      That’s how we learn, isn’t it? Incremental improvement is possible by rectifying one’s mistake.
      You will soon read about my last week at JWOC. My 3 months went by much quicker than I had initially imagined. But I may come back for the Angkor Marathon with some runner friends!

      I was able to dry up some frangipani flowers in my books and they still smell heavenly. I wish I could capture smell as we captures moments with pictures?!


  4. Joelle Millery

    “as we capture moments” I apologize for the typing mistake.


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