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#Reverb10: Wonder

December 9, 2010

Reverb Prompt from Dec. 4th: Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year? via @Jeff Davis.

Wonder, huh?  I had to look up the definition to remind myself of what exactly wonder is: to be filled with admiration, amazement or awe. Then, I went to the thesaurus: astonishment, curiosity, fascination, & surprise.

Kind of sad that I had to put so much effort into defining and understanding wonder, huh? But, when a challenge arises I like to get specific. And at first glance, I looked at this wonder prompt and my mind went blank.

But amazement and awe? That produced a big lightbulb. Memories came flooding in.

I am extremely lucky to experience amazement and awe quite regularly; each and every time I visit our field office in Takeo Province.

Nine months ago, we were a team of two people in Siem Reap and six people in Takeo. All of our Takeo staff worked in their own homes. Our manager had to drive to each home to drop off supplies and collect finished work. My, how we’ve grown!

Still from a recent video shoot.

Now, we have our very own field office in Takeo. We have 22 employees working under one roof. (Not to mention the four employees at headquarters in Siem Reap.) We have a staff of weavers and spin + tie assistants. We have creative managers and weaving + tying team leaders.  An astounding Khmer Field & Operations manager who has grown immensely in the short time I have known him, who consistently exceeds expectations.

Every time I walk into that space and hear the buzz and thrum of shuttles being passed through the loom, wheels spinning and people hard at work, I am awestruck. This is joy.

My favorite day to be in the village is payday. There’s something indescribably satisfying about handing the salary to hard-workers who are relieved and thrilled to have a steady job that utilizes their specific talents. The vigor with which they say “ar-kun” (thank you) always puts a smile on my face.

Now, I know the cure to any feelings of despondency or defeat is a trip to Takeo. There, I regain perspective. I know that the good we are doing outweighs every hardship and challenge.

How do I plan to cultivate a sense of wonder in 2011?

Glad you asked; I have a few ideas burning.

The first: I want to plan and host a Live Art Battle. Think: Iron Chef meets Art. Artists show up at a predetermined time and place. I announce a theme. The artists each get a station with canvas and a kit of preselected tools. All artists get the same box of art ingredients. They then have one hour to create a piece about the theme with their tools. At the end of an hour, the pieces get hung and a panel of judges select an Art Battle Champion.

What makes this so exciting is that everyone –artists, expats, Khmers, random passersby– can be involved in the artistic process. We are inviting everyone in to see how each artist approaches a problem and comes out the other side with a finished piece of art.

This would be something completely new on the Siem Reap art + social scene.

The second: A staged reading. Ever since I arrived on Cambodian soil, I’ve been toying with the idea of bringing theater to Siem Reap. I want a hassle-free way in for people who might not have any experience. So, after much talking, hemming and hawing, I’ve decided I’m going to direct a staged reading in 2011. I think it’d be interesting to do a reading of a children’s play or short story for Khmer and expat children.

This leads to my third goal: I want to work with a local school or orphanage to stage a play. I miss my days as a theater camp counselor. I miss working with kids and all of the unexpected moments that can arise. I think it’d be cool to adapt a traditional Khmer folktale and have the children help with creating a set & costumes. It would just be fun –an opportunity to play and create.

What will you do in 2011 to cultivate a sense of wonder?


Reverb 10 is an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next.

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