A Day in the Life of a JVC Cambodia Office Representative @ the Project Site

[Original by Mariko OMURA, Cambodia Project (December 25, 2019); Translated by J. Tsuchiya/A. Taguchi]

I came back to Japan for one month from the middle of last November. Whenever I am in Japan, I often get questions from the people who attend events about what kind of work I do and what my daily schedule is. So, I would like to write here how “A day in the life of a JVC Cambodia office representative” is like. I will start with my tasks at our project site.

7:30 Morning Meeting. Everyone wakes up early in the morning in Cambodia!

In Cambodia, many corporations and organizations start work at around 7:30-8:00. Isn’t it earlier than in Japan? Because Cambodia is a land of everlasting summer, people start working early in the morning when it’s cool and take a rest in the afternoon when it’s hot. This is the culture here. We also start at 7:30 with a morning meeting.

Each of us shares what we did and found the previous day.

8:00 Visiting a project village

After the morning meeting, everyone starts work under the supervision of Chatra, the office manager. We are working in six villages. Some of them are only 15 minutes by motorcycle from our office, but it takes more than one hour to reach other villages. Our staff members engage in various kinds of work ranging from researching to offering training for working in test farms. I go around with them whenever I can.

I interview villagers when I join community research activities.

I sometimes have a meeting with the country’s administrative officials.

I learn a lot from talking with local people, even from areas outside of our project site like this one. A villager talked to me about her agricultural crops.

I sometimes visit previous project sites to check on their progress.

I record the scenes of training seminars with a camera and video. If there are any concerns I notice, I discuss it later on during the meeting at our office.

Because I’d like to know how hard their work may be, I sometimes join the on-the-job training with the locals. This is a scene of the training of lemongrass processing.

12:00~14:00 Lunch break for 2 hours!

Taking a rest during the hottest hours of the day is a Cambodian way of life. We have a lunch break for two hours. The staff who live near the office go home for lunch and do housework. I stay at the office, have lunch prepared by a staff member, who lives away from home for the job (mainly Rith, a driver). Then, I usually work in the office after lunch.

Meat-stuffed bitter melon; this is my favorite. The one made by Rith is the best!

Cambodian home cooking consists of soup and a lot of white rice. As rice has been a staple food fora long time, it is the best way to fill the stomach. By eating rice as much as possible with only a little accompanying dish

The driver, Rith, is good at cooking. I always travel by car with him. When I am busy with work, he prepares lunch for me without saying anything…

14:00 Office work and others

We usually do desk work in the afternoon, but we don’t have the same schedule every day; sometimes, we do desk work in the morning and go out to the villages in the afternoon. However, at the end of the month, for example, we stay all day in the office to calculate employees’ salaries and perform accounting operations. Occasionally, we also work outside the office all day or Skype with the Tokyo office.

A meeting with the staff regarding the data we collected.

I am checking a report by a staff member (Photo by GARDEN journalism).

Organizing the data with the staff.

17:00 Closing time. There is no overtime culture here.

The closing time of the office is 5 pm. Of course, I assume that there are differences among individuals and types of jobs, but basically in Cambodia, there is no overtime. Cambodians put great importance on time to spend with families. Staff members leave for home just after 5 pm. Those who live without family go back to their dormitory next to the office. I also leave the office on time, because if I stay longer in the office, it means Rith, the driver will also have to work overtime. If I have some more work to do, I do it at home.

We enjoy having dinner together on celebratory occasions. This day, we had a birthday and welcome party for staff members.

People sometimes ask me, “What’s it like where you live?”. This is where I live. Since I don’t like insects, I stay inside double mosquito nets (Photo by GARDEN journalism).

Others: Holidays, etc.

While here, I think my most important mission is to build good relationships with the local people, so I go out of the villages and let other local people know about our activities. I often visit the town of Siem Reap during the holidays. It takes about an hour by bus. Eventually, my “holiday visits” bore fruit in meeting restaurant owners who currently support our “Trial Activity for External Sales”.

Spending holidays in the village also gave me a wonderful opportunity to be a bridesmaid for a laundress in the neighborhood (only a few people have a washing machine, so those who have one can become a laundryman or a laundress to earn money). She knows that I am very interested in Cambodian culture!

The bride is standing second from the right. The others are her bridesmaids. In a wedding ceremony, the bride is accompanied by three unmarried bridesmaids, and a groom by three unmarried best men. Women marry young in Cambodia. The two young girls standing at both ends are teenagers!

In Cambodia, people wear heavier makeup than in Japan. Only a few people can recognize me in this picture. The wedding ceremony was so interesting that I will write about it in the future!

In addition, I guide people who come here during study-tours or university students who come to see our activities. I enjoy talking to many kinds of people.

With the people from Niigata University.

Next time, I will tell you about my stay at Phnom Penh, which happens once or twice a month.

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