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One Year Anniversary

December 4, 2010

Today marks the 365th day I’ve lived in Cambodia. As one year in the ‘bodge closes and another begins, I thought it might be nice to reflect on my time here.

My Favorite Things About Cambodia:

1. Anything is possible.

Seriously. Have you always dreamed of opening a retail store? Starting a non-governmental agency? Living as a freelance writer? In Cambodia, you can do whatever your entrepreneurial heart desires. The start-up costs and risk are almost guaranteed to be minimal compared to wherever you’re from. This is a magical place where dreams really do come true. Look no further than my own story or the shops lined along the Alley West for proof positive.

2. You can ask the competition for advice.

I arrived to Cambodia with good intentions but wet behind the ears. I didn’t have a clue about sourcing cotton or hardware, but I trusted I could figure it out as I went. When my colleague suggested I set up a meeting with another cotton weaving company to ask my questions, I scoffed. In my mind, it was like walking into a competitor in nyc for sourcing advice. I’d be laughed out of the office.

However, in Cambodia there’s a goal bigger than our companies. We’re here to rebuild. To provide jobs. To give people hope. And that’s more important than keeping company secrets.

I walked into our competitor’s office, explained the difficulties I was having and asked, “Could you give me any advice?” And, he did. Loads. Since then, I’ve had people approach me with the same question. I’ve detailed my mistakes and what I’ve learned with the hope that it’ll make their journey easier.

3. This is the modern-day melting pot.

My friend group is comprised of Yugoslavs, Canadians, Brits, Aussies & Americans. They work in hospitality, development, anti-trafficking, education, business, etc.

We’re not confined to our own industry or the friends we made at University. The paths that led us here are different, but very similar. We’re united by our desire to be here. Our unrelenting commitment to make the world better. To serve others.

Highlights From The Past Year:

I moved across the globe sight-unseen, traveled to Thailand & vacationed on a private island.

I dug in, got my hands dirty and helped. I helped real people by sharing my passion and building a business. I planted the seeds of an idea, nurtured them and am now watching this beautiful enterprise grow. I never thought I’d be doing this, but always secretly wanted to.

I started writing openly, honestly, directly from my heart. Then, I started posting those musings here on An American Girl In Cambodia. I embraced my desire to chronicle the ups & downs of passionately pursuing personal & professional development.

I celebrated our very first retail product – sarongs in the Wanderlust for Madewell collection. There were so many challenges, but nothing can beat the joy of seeing our product online and knowing that we did it.

I entered this opportunity full of enthusiasm and excitement, but nervous beyond belief. I knew this experience would change me. Mark me. And, it has. For the better. I’ve stretched and grown in so many ways, personally and professionaly.

Every day I weather the challenges or pay tribute to the victories, I move closer to becoming my ideal self.

This last year marks the happiest, healthiest & most authentic I’ve been in my adult life.

It’s been one hell of a year. Tomorrow, I start my second year in Cambodia. Here’s hoping it’s as joyful and rewarding as the first.


5 Comments leave one →
  1. Ms Cleaver permalink
    December 5, 2010 1:24 am

    Congratulations Leigh – I’ve enjoyed reading about your adventure!

    • December 7, 2010 12:23 pm

      Thanks, Leah! I’ve signed on for another year so there will be many more tales to follow. xoxo.

  2. December 6, 2010 10:08 am

    So few words for an entire year in a new country… I’m impressed! I can imagine that your upcoming year will be even more joyful and rewarding! Can’t wait to read about it. 🙂

    • December 7, 2010 12:24 pm

      I know. It was a bit rushed, but also I’ve been updating throughout the journey. I’m still processing the year! A lot has changed/happened.


  1. #Reverb10: Achieve « An American Girl In Cambodia

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