Project Week Take 2

Dear anyone who may be reading this blog post,

Depending on how long you have been following this blog, you may or may not have read my post about last year’s Project Week. I would recommend reading that post before this one, as many of my reflections are based on comparisons with the Project Week last year.

As with last year’s post, there are many sensitive details about the girls and the centre that cannot be revealed or shown online (this includes names, stories, pictures etc.), so you will have to just bear with me and my vagueness.

Our trip to the AFESIP centre this year was very different from our trip last year. Last year we went to Siem Reap centre for a whole week, where the girls were all between 14 and 34 years old. This year, my group went to Tom Dy centre for four days, where the girls were between 4 and 20 years old. The rest of the week was spent visiting NGOs and cultural heritage sites in Phnom Penh.

One of the major differences that I think affected the quality of the trip, for me, was the composition of students that went on the trip. Last year, the group that went together on Project Week to Siem Reap was very close-knit, and we had no communication or cooperation troubles. This year I felt as though there were three or four very distinct groupings of students that had just been thrown together for Project Week, which led to us not being able to work as well together as I had been expecting.

While preparing for Project Week this year, I had been anticipating that the girls and women in the centre would be of all ages, so from children all the way up to mid-30s. When we arrived at the centre, we quickly realized that there were only younger girls left in the centre, and none of the girls that Josef, Fleur or I knew from last year remained in the centre. That was tough to think about for the first couple of days.

For the duration of the four days my group spent at the centre, we danced and sang a lot, as well as carrying out art activities and various games. We walked (read: carried) the younger girls to and from school every day, and I also spent a lot of my time with one of the very youngest girls after school. She was very entertaining; she would have me carry her around the centre as she reached out to test all of the light switches, after which she would point in the direction of the stairs and have me walk up and down the stairs for ages and ages while carrying her. On the way up the stairs, she would count in Khmer. On the way down, she counted in English.

Our group didn’t get to do any drama or art therapies in the group, due to a lack of time. I found this very disappointing on a couple of different levels; lots of us had prepared to run drama and art therapies (which led to a lot of our preparation being wasted), and there were several students in my group that I thought would have benefited from seeing the therapies and how different the girls become during the therapies, going in an instant from blissfully happy to hysterical crying. Perhaps it would have helped the message we try to convey in SAS sink in a little further.

Halfway through the week, we swapped over with the second group of students, who had spent the first half of the week visiting NGOs and cultural heritage sites, and were headed to the centre to spend the second half of the week there.

emma i annen.jpg

Emma (Y1, Norway) and Emma (Y2, Norway/UK). What a cute pair!

During our time in Phnom Penh, we visited two cultural heritage sites (Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and The Killing Fields) and a few NGOs/social enterprises (Liberty Asia, Chab Dai Coalition, Daughters of Cambodia). We also watched the movie The Killing Fields. I found it very interesting to learn more about Cambodia’s past and violent history.

The highlight of our time in Phnom Penh must have been when some of the members of our group walked past a café that we knew employed former victims of sex trafficking. We stopped by, originally thinking that we would ask them a couple of questions about which NGOs their employees were referred to them from. When we went in, we quickly realized that one of the baristas was a girl that Josef and I knew from Siem Reap from the year before. It was really nice to catch up with her both there and at a dinner later the same evening and to find out what the girls from the Siem Reap centre were up. It was really good to not wonder anymore about whether they were still under AFESIP’s protection.

In summary – I’d say this trip was very different to the trip last year, which is not necessarily a bad thing. I think that last year I was much more shocked by everything that happened at the centres, especially due to the therapies. This year I was not so shocked, and so I don’t feel that my time at the centre this year will have left as much of an impact as last year’s trip did. Nevertheless, I thought it was a very good use of our time in Phnom Penh to visit other NGOs and cultural heritage sites, to know more of Cambodia’s “background”.

Sorry about there not being many pictures! I am unable to post any from the centre or of the girls.

Happy New Year!

I’ve neglected this blog for far too long, I know. My excuses are good, though – lots of work + a broken laptop = no blogging from me, although I have been answering emails (to some extent) and responding to any comments on the blog. Baby steps.

So, officially, Happy 2016!

Winter Break and the stuff before that in a nutshell (Sim-style):

  • Got sick after coming back to Europe.
  • Stayed with Angelos (my Greek second-year – class of ’15) for a day in London, which was really nice. We went to a really big Waterstones, snuck into the UCL library, went to the Wellcome Collection (exhibition on a Tibetan temple and some very painful-looking yoga as well as a foggy misty room/exhibit. Very interesting!). Angelos also made me food and, while in Bergen headed to London, I had an awkward experience while buying alcohol to gift to him.
  • Had a nice Christmas celebration with the UK family –
  • Went to bed very early for about two weeks, and then stayed up ’til 4 or 5am every night for the rest of my (extended) break. Oops.
  • Went to the cinema with Mum (watched Joy) and then went to eat Chinese food. Had a nice conversation with the owner of the restaurant about Shanghai and Hong Kong.
  • Skyped Simran… multiple times…
  • My laptop broke two days before I was scheduled to fly back to Hong Kong. Disaster – lost all of my files! Many tears and three days later, a new laptop was waiting for me when I arrived back to LPC.
  • A really nice trip from Bergen to Hong Kong – the first flight was practically empty (an entire row to myself, although the guys behind me were REALLY drunk), and in the second flight, I was sat next to two other students that were around my age. We had the oh-so-lovely unspoken agreement that when one of us needed to get up, we would all go at the same time.

After my laptop broke and I lost all of my files, I spent my whole first weekend back at LPC cooped up in my room, rewriting my Extended Essay and Biology Internal Assessment. I then spent the following week holed up in my room with Simran, both frantically trying to process our Chemistry Internal Assessment data and put it all into words (and less than 12 pages!).

This week has been a run-up to this weekend, when Margaux and I hosted Liberty Asia Students Against Slavery’s first ever Hackathon. We had 6 teams each researching a slavery case study, trying to find out as much as possible using open-source intelligence. I would say it was very successful, with each team presenting their findings at the end of the event.

5 Second Rule

Margaux (Discovery College ’16, France/USA/++), Christos (LPC ’17, Greece) and Catherine (LPC ’17, Ireland) – or, as they are better known, 5 Second Rule!

DSC_9424

Tegz (LPC ’16, Wales)

DSC_9415

Julia (LPC ’17, HK), Emma (LPC ’17, Norway), Sadé (LPC ’17, Jamaica).

Until next time. Hopefully not two months. Excuse me while I go finish some more assignments.

Emma

Oops… I forgot about this blog for two months

Just kidding, I didn’t forget about it. I thought about it regularly but didn’t write anything anyway.

As always, plenty of things have happened since I last wrote, so I’m going to write another Simran-style post where I list the things I have done and expand only briefly. Enjoy.

October:

  • My university applications and all my predicted grades were due at the start of the month. Since my university applications were handed in, I haven’t been too stressed about predicted grades. I took my LNAT and IELTS as well (don’t you just LOVE standardized testing? I sure do), so I’ve been finished with all of my university applications for a good while now. It feels nice.
  • My grandparents and uncle came to visit for a week, which was really nice (at least for me). I got off campus with them for a few days, and also went to see some sights with them.
  • CHINA WEEK aka no firstyear roomies for a week. I’d be lying if I said Tiffany and I didn’t enjoy the peace and quiet (sorry Trisha and Yvonna – we still love you ❤ ). It reminded me a lot of fortnight, with all the second-years running around to finish pieces of work.
  • Margaux and I attended FREEDOM INSPIRES Hong Kong, a Liberty Asia event. It was really nice to be there – we met some people working for Liberty Asia that we’re working with now, and we also very much enjoyed talking to the other guests and representing LASAS.

November:

  • No November is complete without the 24 Hour Race! Before the 24 Hour Race, some students acted as Light For Freedom ambassadors, trying to fundraise for the two beneficiaries of the 24 Hour Race, Chab Dai and Justice Centre Hong Kong, before the Race took place. Then, of course, there was the actual race, which was as great as ever. LPC (of course) took home the school spirit award, while the LPC boys team took home the prize for 3rd fastest boys team. We’re all very proud!
  • Sex CoP Day. Not highly enjoyable last year – basically all the sex education one ever receives at LPC all packed into one day. Usually a day off for all the second-years, a bunch of us were asked to help out with various sessions throughout the day. Significantly more fun when the pressure to put a condom on a banana correctly wasn’t on me!
  • Went to a really cool talk held by the Hong Kong International Literary Festival (or something like that) about the urbanization of China and the development of cities and rural areas in China (Beijing and Manchuria). Super-interesting!
  • Went to an awesome art gallery tour around Hong Kong with Wendy (art teacher) and a bunch of other students. So many opportunities for the students!
  • Skipped a European Cultural Evening meeting to join the Theatre classes at a Chinese play. Because why not?
  • Dad came to visit and brought way too much sweets and food!! While he was here, we had European Cultural Evening – a great success, in my book! We had a nice mix of serious and playful scenes (and I do make a pretty good queen, if I do say so myself).
  • While Dad was here, we also went to see the Hong Kong Ballet perform Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet. My first ballet! I love the student discounts on tickets that they do here!!
  • Then, yesterday was the last Music Night of 2015. Ferna wasn’t here to help organize this one, and her presence was definitely missed – not only by me. I think Music Nights of this year have also been a success, mainly due to the diversity of talent the school possesses and the fact that Arnett, our principal, is so supportive of the students and lets us use his house (and really awesome piano).

So, yeah. Two months in a nutshell. I might expand on some of these points later – but probably not. Pictures below, on Facebook, and other places. Only 10 days until I get on the plane and get to go home for almost a month! So ready!!!

12144857_10154532545188849_2124958183186193924_n (4)

Me and my favourite tutee, Simmy P ❤ Excellent block activity.

1525397_10154532545438849_6486382449282680291_n (1)

Magan’s tutor group ’16, aka the best tutor group ever.

12096483_10153747969082082_6634034453498077555_n

Karen (Colombia) and Maisha (Bangladesh) trying to kill me before I attended FREEDOM INSPIRES Hong Kong.

12195026_411247162417861_6120261164108867459_o (1)

Me as an ambassador for the 24 Hour Race.

12244589_10205427680906569_4859112508180730074_o

Believe it or not, an everyday scene at LPC. Just kidding, this is the British scene from ECE. Willem (Netherlands) playing Prince Harry, me playing the Queen, and Maymay (HK/Wales) playing Wallace (my butler).

11252555_10154613781403849_4329858214032873328_n

War Poem.

12249657_971370219569031_3396679102582336607_n

My promotional profile picture for ECE.

12304321_10205470306732188_9079865199124373280_o

Me looking dreadfully thoughtful at the last Music Night of 2015.

xoxo

A post about a lot of things

OK, so I admit I’m not the best at updating my blog. In my defence, plenty of things have been happening over the last few weeks, and as it’s coming up to the end of the year (and the start of exams), the days are really blurring together (I had to check my calendar to see what I had to put into this blog post).

A couple of weeks ago, Belce (Turkey) and I went to see a play called The Crowd at the Cultural Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui. We went to a Turkish restaurant food (AMAZING food), then sat outside in a square which had a really nice fountain (Me and Mum found this square when she came with me to the promenade), before making our way slowly down the promenade to get to the Cultural Centre. The Crowd was a very interesting experience – it was in Mandarin, but subtitled. It was a very interesting play, but I found it quite difficult to look at the subtitles and watch what was going on at the same time. The play was about a man whose mother was killed during the cultural revolution – after 40 years, he still held a grudge against the man that killed her, and did everything he could to kill him and ruin his family. The title “The Crowd” comes from the idea that once a person is part of a crowd, their individuality and capacity to think for themselves is lost, and that that is the reason the main character’s mother was killed. A very interesting play!

The view of Hong Kong Island from TST Promenade!

The view of Hong Kong Island from TST Promenade!

Me and Belce with Hong Kong Island in the background.

Me and Belce with Hong Kong Island in the background.

The last cultural evening of the year was NACE (North American Cultural Evening) – it was absolutely hilarious! I think one of the perks to the last cultural evening of the year must be that everyone now knows each other and the school so well that everyone understands all the jokes and finds them absolutely hilarious (like Johanna being Republican and the teachers’ 67% contact time). The NACE food was great (mmmm, apple pie), and, as mentioned, the jokes were great. I have several favourite moments from the NACE play – perhaps the ultimate moments were when Gaia dragged Adam out of Judge Judy’s courtroom at the beginning of play, and when there was a collective gasp when it was revealed that Lyndon insisted on having one meat-free day a week, and only fed Johanna french fries on Sundays.

Lyndon married Johanna, who had her two fake dads (+ her real dad) walking her down the aisle!

Lyndon married Johanna, who had her two fake dads (+ her real dad) walking her down the aisle!

Adam got kicked out of Judy's (Kylie's) courtroom...

Adam got kicked out of Judy’s (Kylie’s) courtroom…

Then, the day after NACE, the SAS (Students Against Slavery) group went to the Cultural Centre in TST (that’s right – where I went to watch The Crowd with Belce), and we did an afternoon of drama activities there. While I’m all for trying to do creative things to raise awareness about issues, I found it very difficult to do so in a group where many of the people that were supposed to be performing were more interested in their phones than the issue of slavery. Such is life in the IB, I guess?

After that, everything is a bit of a blur and I don’t really know what comes in which order. But here goes:

QCs (all of our activities) are coming to an end 😦 I caught myself thinking “But it’s so early in the year to finish QCs” the other day, and promptly had to correct myself. The second-years only have one week of class left, and the first-years only have about three weeks until the exams start. That’s quite terrifying, considering the amount of revision I have to do, and the amount of practice papers I desperately need to do for Norwegian. Badminton was my first QC to finish – we had to finish two weeks earlier than other QCs due to our need for the sports hall (which was being set up for the art exhibition, which coincidentally started today). Now Choir has finished for the second-years, while the first-years are busy recruiting other first-years to join our Choir performance for graduation. Campus Ecologists and Students Against Slavery will be having their last reflection sessions this week, and then it will be study, study, study all the way until the end of term.

We had Easter Break for 3 school days – I can’t really remember what I did, but I think it was a lot of work. On Friday (two days ago) I had my Norwegian oral exams, so I was busy preparing for those as well as trying to create some maps for my Geography Internal Assessment (which is due in 8(!!!!!!!!!!!!111!!!1!!!!1!!!!!1!!!!!) days). The IB needs to give me a break.

My priorities for the Easter Break... Yes, I like to write on whiteboards.

My priorities for the Easter Break… Yes, I like to write on whiteboards.

The art exhibition was not originally going to be in this post, but I’m going to add it to this post because I am procrastinating and I intend to spend at least another 15 minutes on this blog post. It’s quite amazing how much talent we have here at the school! Each of the artists chose an underlying theme to base their exhibition pieces on, and they came together to have the collective theme of “chaos concealed”. I have a few favourite pieces, so depending on how much time I have over the week, I will stop by the gym to gaze at them (and the auction slips). If my wallet is feeling heavy, I might bid on my very favourite. All of these end-of-year events (like graduation dinner next weekend) are really letting the fact that oh-no-the-second-years-are-graduating-in-a-month sink in. Hopefully we will be able to find time to spend together before exams and graduation.

Not a piece being displayed in the art exhibition this year (although I wish it was!). It's a collaboration between Beach Clean-up and Art for Non-Artists (AFNA), highlighting the importance of keeping the oceans clean.

Not a piece being displayed in the art exhibition this year (although I wish it was!). It’s a collaboration between Beach Clean-up and Art for Non-Artists (AFNA), highlighting the importance of keeping the oceans clean.

Miren - one of the many second-years I will miss.

Miren – one of the many second-years I will miss.

Model United Nations – Change of Pace

Yesterday was LPCMUN (Li Po Chun Model United Nations) CoP (Change of Pace) day – don’t you just love all of the acronyms we use at LPC?

Model United Nations is an activity that occurs worldwide. Last weekend, the LPCMUN group hosted a bunch of other schools’ MUN teams and competed here on campus. The basic idea is that students act as delegates for various countries and organizations in committees in the United Nations – for example the Security Council. Arguing and politics occur, and at the end the goal is to pass resolutions (as if one was in the United Nations) and determine “policy”. When representing countries and organizations, the delegates must dress formally and speak of themselves in the 3rd person – this turned out to be very entertaining as the day went on.

We also had “chairs” – their job is to control the debate and monitor the delegates. One of our chairs often said things such as: “The chair would smile upon…” (which basically meant do whatever the chair “smiles upon”). The chairs would ask the delegates if there were any “motions on the floor” – at which point one could motion for several different things – like adding oneself to the General Speakers List, setting up a Moderated or Unmoderated Caucus or proposing a resolution.

Initially I was quite skeptical of this CoP day – I don’t really agree with one Quan Cai having its own CoP day – and was unsure how much effort to put into preparing myself for it. While most CoP days require minimal effort and involve only showing up and being mentally present, the MUN CoP day requires that all the delegates prepare themselves to argue for their country’s stance. Personally, I would have appreciated having much more time to prepare myself, as I think the vast majority of students will agree with me on. Many of the issues being debated and committees being modeled were ones I had no clue about – I was representing Canada, debating the representation of China (1971) in the United Nations.

A brief summary of what happened in reality in the UN when they debated the representation of China:

  • Both the Republic of China (ROC) (Taiwan) and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) (What we now call China) claimed that there was only one governing body of China, and that they were the true government.
  • While the ROC was recognized by more states than the PRC, the majority of the General Assembly eventually voted to give the seat in the UN to the PRC, and refused the ROC a seat in the UN.

Without delving too deeply into the arguments of each side, I can say there were many opposing arguments and factors to consider when debating in the General Assembly. Although I don’t take History, I’m reasonably certain I could take an exam on the relations between China and Taiwan right now.

LPCMUN CoP day participants!

LPCMUN CoP day participants!

In the end, Canada (that’s me) ended up proposing a resolution to split the representation of China into two parts (one for the PRC and one for the ROC) along with the USSR and BSSR. Unfortunately, we needed a majority of 2/3 + 1, and we were missing two votes to be able to pass our resolution. While we were fiercely opposed by the ROC and its supporters, I still had a lot of fun and learned a lot about formal procedures and how to formulate an argument under pressure. One of the highlights of the day will definitely be trying to fit all the reasons why China should split into the PRC and ROC into a frantic 30-second speech!

The day ended nicely – I found out that I won “Best Delegate” of the Historical General Assembly, and several of my other friends (including Tegz) either won “Best Delegate” or “Outstanding Delegate” awards!

Proof that I actually can debate - to a certain extent!

Proof that I actually can debate – to a certain extent!

In other news: Magnus and I have our first firstie! From what I have seen of her Facebook profile, she looks superawesome! Magnus and I (and the other Scandies) can’t wait to meet her! We are also desperately searching for our second firstie – if that’s you, please send us a message! We don’t bite, and we can’t wait to meet you!

Also, Zayn Malik has left One Direction. Naturally, I am very saddened by this news – especially as the last concert One Direction played altogether as a band was the concert in Hong Kong last week (that I didn’t go to). The One Direction poster that hung proudly in my corner has been taken down, and I am now officially in mourning. I’m kidding. I’m not in mourning, but I AM sad.

Finally, there was music night tonight, where Cynthia and I performed a song that we also performed during Project Week, but thought we could perform better with instruments. Although the performance wasn’t perfect (compared to our rehearsals), we had plenty of fun singing together. It was really sad that this was the last Music Night of the year – Sophie and Miranda did such a great job hosting the event. I’m honored to say I’ll be hosting Music Night next year along with Ferna (Philippines).

Now the internet will cut off in approximately three minutes, so the delegate of Canada motions to end this blog post.

 

Motion passed!

Project Week 2015

For this year’s project week, I went to Siem Reap, Cambodia with Students Against Slavery, a Quan Cai I am involved with here at school. The SAS groups this year went to two rehabilitation centres for girls and women that have been rescued from trafficking, brothels etc. My group went to the older girls’ centre, while some other students went to a centre for younger girls.

The SAS groups as well as the United World Schools groups took the same flight to Phnom Penh from Hong Kong on Saturday morning, but split up in Phnom Penh. From Phnom Penh, our SAS group had an 8-hour bus ride to get to the guesthouse we were staying at. Originally, we had hoped to get to the centre early enough to be able to spend time with the girls on Saturday evening. As we didn’t get to Siem Reap until late Saturday evening, we had to go directly to the guesthouse and then meet the girls on Sunday morning.

Out of courtesy to the girls and due to safety concerns, I will not be mentioning names, posting pictures of the girls or telling many stories about things that happened at the centre.

Every single day of the Project Week involved getting up early in the morning – I think I was up before the sun every single day we were in Siem Reap. Then we made our way to the centre, where we had breakfast with the girls. Meals at the centre were highly entertaining – the girls would insist on putting more food on my plate until I literally refused to eat any more food. After meals we would have some downtime – after lunch, the girls had a rest period. Every day I used to go to the open area in the main building, and a bunch of LPC students would nap there with the girls.

We had prepared some activities before going to Siem Reap – singing, dancing, Wendo (a form of self-defense), art games, clapping games and a couple of therapies. Every day was filled with activities from about 5am (aerobics) until 9pm (they girls went to bed post-dancing) – the girls loved some of the songs we taught them, and wrote them down so they could continue singing them after we left. We danced every evening, and we did Khmer dances a few times (Khmer dances are normally reserved for family get-togethers, so it was a very pleasant surprise that the girls suggested we do that).

One of the experiences that has meant most to me was taking part in the therapy sessions we did. The art therapy activity was to draw two pictures – one the way you thought others saw you, and another the way you saw yourself. We were split into two groups – in our group I think something got lost in translation, because the girls were mainly drawing what they were thinking when other people were looking at them.

The aim of the therapy was to get the girls to display some emotions and express some of what they’re really feeling – they aim to be re-integrated as soon as possible, and for most of the girls that means they suppress their emotions rather than deal with them effectively in order to work through the pain. While we didn’t get extremely meaningful responses in our group during this session, I don’t think it was entirely fruitless. Many of the girls said they felt scared when men or “bad men” looked at them, but that they would still smile at them and hope that the man would not hate them. That raised several important questions, even though it did not tell us much about what the girls thought of themselves.

I enjoyed the drama therapy much more than I enjoyed the art therapy – while we did not get the desired results from the art therapy, there was a very heavy atmosphere and most people were crying by the end of the session. Many people also cried during the drama therapy, but I found it more interesting than the art therapy. During the art therapy, there were five actors from the LPC group standing to the side of an open space – “offstage”, if you will. Individual girls could come to pull us “onstage” and shape our bodies and facial expressions into whatever positions they wanted to, then we would “freeze” until the girl was satisfied with looking at the image she had created.

The girls shaped a happy image and a sad image, then explained them to the group. After they had created the sad image, they clapped a number of times and the actors transformed back into the happy image. There were many recurring themes in the drama therapy – very often, the girls’ happy images were domestic bliss, studying, singing/modeling or various Khmer dance poses – I was very often placed in happy images dancing, with one of my feet lifted off the ground. While the girls seemed to find it very amusing, it became slightly difficult to hold the positions for a prolonged period of time.

Also, very often, the girls’ sad images were domestic violence, alcoholism, girls crying or girls being taken away (trafficked). Two of the images I think about most often and remember most vividly were created by different girls. The first was a sad image, of a girl being trafficked. I think I remember this image most and think about it most often because I was portrayed as the trafficker, pulling on Jaime’s arm to get her to come with me. Thinking about these things is one thing, but acting them out (especially acting out the perpetrator) is something else entirely.

The second image was the last image of the evening. It was a happy image, depicting all of the actors as one happy family. The girl who created the image spoke for a long time about the significance of the image, and how it represented her main hope for the future. After that, the girls decided they did not want to continue the therapy. To me, the girls’ reactions to the image mean more than the image itself. The fact that many girls were affected by this image indicated that this is a common hope/dream they all share. At the same time, the fact that they began crying shows how uncertain their future are, and how aware the girls are that their futures are not at all secure.

On one of the days, some of the students went to Angkor Wat, a temple complex in Siem Reap province. Here we visited some temples (Angkor Wat – we watched the sun rise from here, the Bayon and Ta Prohm) (pictures below). My personal favourite was Ta Prohm, a temple that had not been renovated or fixed up since its discovery in the 1800s. It was an excellent opportunity to see Khmer architecture from when the Khmer empire was at its prime – many hundreds of years before the atrocities of the Khmers Rouges and the Pol Pot regime.

EXPLORING ANGKOR WAT.

EXPLORING ANGKOR WAT.

Sunrise over Angkor Wat - Fleur, me, Cynthia, Sze Yan and Jaime.

Sunrise over Angkor Wat – Fleur, me, Cynthia, Sze Yan and Jaime.

Leaving the girls at the centre was very difficult. It took Stella quite a long time to get us all out of the gate, down the street and into the mini-bus. We traveled back to Phnom Penh from Siem Reap, and met up with the other SAS group to listen to a presentation by APLE, an NGO working to prevent pedophilia and child sex tourism in Cambodia. After that, we had free time until the flight back to Hong Kong left the next day – Cynthia, Adam and I visited the National Museum of Cambodia (right behind our guesthouse) and then walked around Phnom Penh for the rest of the day.

Some of the people from both SAS groups in Phnom Penh.

Some of the people from both SAS groups in Phnom Penh.

One of the (many) things the girls showed me was how quickly you can grow to love and care about people. While there was a significant language barrier, we still managed to communicate and share things with each other. I realized early on that none of the girls’ stories mattered to me. While they are all in the centre for various reasons, that is not what defines them. They are individuals with stories to be told and voices to be heard. Understanding why SAS was created and why campaigning against slavery is vital are just two of the reasons I am extremely glad I went on this Project Week.

2nd term has begun

School has been going on for two weeks, and I finally feel like I’ve done enough work to be able to sit back and write a blog post. In addition to all normal coursework, we have to start coming up with IA (internal assessment) topics for most of our subjects, as well as an EE (extended essay) topic in two subjects. Thankfully, I already have some of these topics and ideas sorted out – although I have no idea when I’ll actually find the time to write the essays!

In Choir, we have moved away from English songs and to a Mandarin song that has the direct translation of “Mice love rice”. I am unfortunately not yet at the point where I can understand written Mandarin, although it is very motivational to start learning a song and then recognize a whole bunch of the characters!

This week we had “Sustainability COP day” on Wednesday – it was very interesting. Jacqueline and I presented our recycled paper proposal to the first-years, and if all goes well, the school will be using recycled paper (as well as less paper!) starting from next school year! Then Lizette Smook came to talk to us about some elements of sustainability, after which we disbanded to go to different sustainability talks.

The one that stuck with me the most was Tracy’s (from Plastic-Free Seas) talk about plastic beads (microbeads) being used in beauty products (like scrubs). The vast majority of scrubs actually use plastic beads as the “exfoliation” part. Whereas natural scrub would use sugar or salt as exfoliants (sufficient to exfoliate once a week), most companies now use the microbeads, which are smaller and smoother, meaning that they exfoliate your skin so little that many companies actually recommend you use their products every day. The problem with these microbeads is that when they are washed off your face and into the sink, they are not filtered out of the sewage system. The microbeads go directly into the sea, are eaten by fish and then subsequently by humans. I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure ingesting plastic isn’t very good for your health!

There is a mobile app called “Beat the Microbead” which you can download for free. This app contains information about products with and without microbeads. Or, if you don’t want to download the app, you could always just read the back of the product. If it says “microbeads” or “polystyrene”, you know there is plastic in your product.

The rest of this week has been spent working (I finally finished my Norwegian Written Assignment and sent it off to my Norwegian tutor), rehearsing (for what, I’ll tell you in about a week) and sleeping. It looks like 2nd term has arrived, and is here to stay…

PS: This website is good for seeing how sustainable, healthy and socially responsible products and companies are. Check it out!

A (Tues)Day in the Life

This post is for anyone who is wondering what a typical (Tues)day looks like at LPC.

When it comes to school, we follow an 8-day cycle. That means that we don’t have a set schedule for Monday, Tuesday etc. Instead, we have an 8-day cycle, where we have a set schedule for Day 1, Day 2 etc. If we take the past Tuesday as an example, I had a free morning block, then Norwegian, followed by Group Block, Biology and Maths. (I also take Chemistry, Geography and Mandarin, but I didn’t have those subjects on Tuesday.

Norwegian is a very chill subject (at the moment). Technically, the name of the subject is “School-supported self-taught language”, so that means there are many people in one class, all learning different languages. In my class we have Norwegian, German, Mongolian, Armenian, Oshindonga, Korean, Dutch, Portugese, Finnish and Urdu (possibly a couple more). We have tutors who speak our mother tongue, and they basically look over the work we submit, as the self-taught course is set up so that we can prepare a lot in advance for our exams.

Morning block starts at 7.30 – no surprise that I was happy to not have morning block. Group block is a new concept for LPC, and is a block that is “allocated” to a certain subject area (for example Humanities, Maths or Sciences). We can have anything from guest lectures to tests in these group blocks.

School typically ends at 13.30. Everyone then goes to lunch, and then we go to our QCs (Quan Cais – the LPC version of CAS activities). If you’re not taking the IB diploma, then QCs basically equates to extracurricular activities.

On Tuesdays, I have 3 QCs: Campus Ecologists (Campus Service), Amnesty International (Campus Service) and Choir (Creativity).

Campus Ecologists has been very interesting – this term, we have done everything from making posters for the bathrooms, cleaning up the Green Corner and making a video about sustainability on campus to learning about composting. Feel free to go and like our Facebook Page!

Amnesty International is not an official QC for me this year (this means that I can’t count CAS hours for it), but I find it very interesting (also my roomie Lili is one of the student leaders for Amnesty, so I kind of have to go). Earlier this week was world AIDS day, so we spent an evening last week cutting red ribbons for students and teachers to wear on campus. We also arranged some activities for LGBTQ week earlier this week and have had Write for Rights Café.

Choir is my Creativity for this year! It’s a small, but fun group. So far we’ve sung Count On Me, Some Nights and Mistletoe, and performed at the second Open Day and at Music Night. Can’t wait to see what we’re going to do next term!

Sidenote: Students Against Slavery and Badminton are my final two QCs, but they’re not on Tuesdays, so I won’t elaborate.

I am not planning on changing any of my activities for next term, since I’m very happy with the ones I already have 🙂

After all the QCs are done, I will usually go shower, do my laundry if I’m out of clothes and then do homework for the next day or work on assignments that are due later in the week!

xoxo

Mid-term break, badminton and protests in Hong Kong!

This is the second-last day of the Mid-Term break. I wish I could say that I’d spent the week productively, but I haven’t really done much schoolwork at all (if any teachers are ready this, then I apologize for neglecting your subject).

The big protests started in Central last week. On Sunday the protesters were teargassed and pepper-sprayed by police. This week the protests continued. So far I don’t think anyone has been teargassed this week, but anti-Occupy Central people (people supporting the Chinese government) are sick of the protests, and have been stirring up trouble among the protesters. If you don’t know what the protests in Hong Kong are about, HERE is an article explaining.

The 1st of October is the national day of China, so it’s a public holiday in Hong Kong. Not very many people celebrated it in school, and the protests are still going on in Central and other less rural parts of Hong Kong. The badminton team, however, got up bright and early to attend an Inter-School competition.

The first day of the tournament was kind of “qualifying” for the quarterfinals. The girls’ team had to play against three other schools and beat at least two of those teams to advance.

LPC girls' team.

Part of the LPC girls’ team (missing Miranda, Rina and Wendy)

Against each school, we had to play 5 matches (only one set per match), and we had to win three of the five matches to win against the school. That means we had to play three singles matches and two doubles matches against each team.

Me and Miranda getting instructions from Beta, our coach (and my maths teacher).

Me and Miranda getting instructions from Beta, our coach (and my maths teacher).

We ended up winning against two schools and losing to one, but because they count the number of matches won, and not just who wins/loses, we still ended up getting the first place in our group. That made us very happy, because the best team from one group end up playing the second best team from another group in the quarterfinals. This was very good news for us, as apparently the LPC girls’ badminton team had NEVER advanced beyond the quarterfinals of this competition.

To cut a long story short, we won the quarterfinals and the semifinals (the semifinals were the most interesting matches of the tournament), and then lost the final. Which was OK, because the winners of the tournament were from a sports academy.

Happeeeeeeeee

Happeeeeeeeee (this is the girls’ badminton team on day two plus Beta plus three people from the boys’ team)

Otherwise in this break, I’ve been learning some Mandarin, reading Twilight (I know, I know) and just generally procrastinating. It’s been good.

 

Until next time!