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15 Dec 2001

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Soon after we arrived in Phnom Penh we approached the university to ask if we could help to set up an English Club for the students. So many people wanted to join that numbers had to be restricted, though a few have dropped out now - I guess they didn't enjoy it. The university's aims and ours are a little different; they see it as an addition to their academic programme while we want to have fun and get to meet the students. Despite these differences the club is taking shape and we are pushing the students to take over much of the organising for themselves. Today one of the groups arranged for two Americans to come and give short talks about Christmas - one on its secular aspects and the other on its religious significance. Both were excellent and much appreciated, generating plenty of questions. After that we ran a "cultural mingle" role play where everyone took on one characteristics of an imaginary culture in which people do strange things such as talking very s-l-o-w-l-y or touching each other. It was great fun and led into a discussion about cultural norms, culture shock and the misundertandings that can easily occur when meeting "foreigners".