AYAD intake 29

I guess the first thing you’ll be asking yourself is ‘why is the title set like that?’ Well, the answer is I like it that way. The second question I think you’ll have is ‘what the hell does Little Kingdoms in Your Chest mean?’ Well, as this video shows it is a line from a Broken Social Scene song called ‘Almost Crimes’. I like the line – a lot. And no, it doesn’t mean breasts. To me, it signifies inner strength within the heart. Whether or not the band meant that I’m not so sure.

With the housekeeping out of the way let me welcome you to my blog – Little Kingdoms in Your Chest. This will be a no holds barred, tell all account of my AYAD (Australian Youth Ambassador for Development) experience at Friends International, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I’m still finalising a lot of the widgets and layouts so if you have a comment about the design/functionality please feel free to let me know!
For those of you who aren’t aware of my role in Cambodia you can view it here.  You can view the organisation I’ll be working on here – http://www.mithsamlanh.org/

Cambodian intake at Cambodian Embassy

Why am I doing this? Good question.
For the past year, maybe two, I haven’t really felt of Melbourne as a home. Sad but true. I was only starting to feel very comfortable when I was awarded the Digital Producer role at Private Media (publisher of Crikey, SmartCompany and StartUpSmart). The Private Media people are wonderful and it was a hard decision for me to leave. (Oh! You should sign up for the Crikey Weekender – my design and coding work! Sign up here for free. Great read.)

After travelling to Vietnam as part of my University course I made it my goal to return to the region in some capacity to help where I could. I really wanted to use my multimedia skills in some way so when the Web Developer position appeared on the AYAD website I knew it was too good an opportunity to let slip.

The AYAD positions are notoriously hard to get. My aim was only to be short listed. When the shortlisted candidates were announced I was pretty chuffed to see my name. I was requested to complete a phone interview with an AYAD panel member. After hanging up the phone I had a good feeling. We had a fun interview. I wanted to have fun and not take it too seriously. It paid off.

Ryan, Me, Jules - photo by Anthony Rae

So after filling out a lot of paperwork, attending medicals (not only physical but psychological) and completing vaccinations it was time to fly to Canberra for the Pre Departure Training – the last requirement before ‘country mobilisation’. Mobilisation – sounds cool huh?
The training lasted for 6 days and was a great experience. There are 103 AYADs for this intake – intake 29. The Cambodian crew are an awesome bunch of people. You’ll get to know them as the blog progresses.

The training was as follows:
Day one - Meet and greets. Followed by beers.
Day two – Welcome and expectations , Q&A with returned AYADs, cross cultural communication. Followed by beers.
Day three - In country support, themes in development, capacity building. Followed by beers.
Day four – My hotel room. Too hung over to move before heading to Old Parliament House for farewell reception. Followed by beers.
Day five – Security, insurance, emergency services, staying healthy. Embassy visits. Followed by beers.
Day six – Managing stress and culture shock, key challenges and finally AYAD presentations. Home time.

Jules, Mel, Meredith - photo by Anthony Rae

I learnt about ‘Capacity Building’, ‘Millennium Development Goals’ etc…
These are terms I will never use in the real world. Ever.
What genuinely surprised me was the huge range of AYAD assignments – sport coaching, communication, agricultural, environment awareness, human rights, law etc… I met so many great people. Even though we’ve all come from very different backgrounds it was plain to see that we all have good intentions and are excited about the adventures ahead.
So…in a few more days’ time I’ll be in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on the start of an amazing experience. Whoa…

You can see more photos by clicking here.

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