So today is my last day teaching the STP project at the Painting Smiles school in the tiny beach village of Otres, in Cambodia. I came to Otres planning to just pass through after a very brief stay in the somewhat-springbreaker-hell town, Sihanoukeville. Here’s the thing about Otres beach: not many people realize it’s there, and so it’s fairly untouched by major tourism (although it is rising exponentially), but those who make it there stay for a night, and leave 2 months later.
I’m came here in April, it’s almost July now..
But while most stay for the beautiful lazy beaches and local expat parties, I was here for these guys:
It’s easy for foreigners to say they want to volunteer, so they come in for a bit of “voluntourism” for a week or so (expect a post on this soon), but not many actually stay long enough to do much lasting good. Painting Smiles is great that it is run and constantly monitored by a local business owner (make sure to say hi to her at Rise Bar and Hostel on the beach), and staffed by both local Khmer teachers and long-term expat volunteers.
Here is a sense of community that you won’t find in many places, and the kids have responded amazing to it. I was welcomed in and allowed to show these awesome kids the possibilities of creative thinking, and even do some up-training with the local teachers in the hopes that creativity will continue to growify (being creative means you get to make up new words ;-] ).
Paintings Smiles is really big on putting back into the local community, and thus they hire local Khmer teachers. They’re now trying to find funding so they can pay the salary for their teachers, and keep helping children as well as the local economy. Take a few moments to check out their fundraiser here on incitedorg .
Expect a lot of cool new stories and photo-illustrations in the coming weeks to show off these kids awesome stories, and make sure to check out the stories page for the past ones. But my favorite part of the course is always the Phototronic Imagitorium™ class. (If you haven’t had the chance to check out my Phototronic Imagitorium™ series, make sure to check it out here.)
Heres a few of my favorites, and to see them all, make sure to check out the rest at my Joshua Beard, foto blog.
It was a tear-eyed day today, and I’ll be back one day (or month, or year) to Otres village. But now, on to spread the word of creativity. Perhaps Laos is next..