By now, it should be a solid year Cambodia has declared the attack by the current pandemic. The first outbreak was detected in Siem Reap last year. For some reason, we survived a few outbreaks. Still, the new wave, dating February 20th, proves stronger than ever, taking a few Cambodian lives already. As a result, I had the time to reflect on the mental effects COVID-19 might have caused us, even non-patients. Brace yourself as the next paragraphs may transcend your realities!
1- Procrastination is Real
We have come to tolerate the tardiness of our work. When we reached a stable phase and looked back, we go, “Why shouldn’t this have been done earlier?” Oddly enough, we forgot we were the one to allow it to happen that late! Despite this unwanted procrastination, I’d say we need to update each other of our commitments, no matter how late they may be. Better still is to keep ourselves busy with online education, as mentioned in this previous post!
2- Moral Injury Affects us all
As elaborated in this article, moral jury would have rather affected war veterans, who could have other saved their fellows. In this modern time, due to fast infection, we couldn’t even stay by our loved ones in the last minute. Worse is our inability to bury the deceased, discomforting some religions. I believe if any measure is taken by our medical authorities, this rather means well to us, the living. This compliance will not only keep us alive, but also other lives safe – physically and morally.
3- The New Normal is More Virtual than Physical
This part feels unfamiliar to some, when one has been so used to face-to-face interactions. Although a previous post of mine addressed online interactions, until now, I realize these have not benefited my works that much. How many of you have gone on Zoom, disabling your video feature and acting as if you care about your colleague(s)?! I understand that muting yourself in such conversations may keep them from hearing unnecessary noise. Still, for an “empathic” compromise, I’d suggest the callers show their faces – if not videos – in the beginning and end of such e-meetings.
To sum up, we are still facing some uncertainty of this pandemic and its long-lasting trauma. As we are spiritual beings, virtuality does not seem that bad, especially when we still care about our causes: family and work 🙂 After all, let us bear in mind to not use COVID-19 as an excuse to stop moving forward in life.
If you ask me what the most amusing presentation was during this TEDx, my answer would be Andy’s session. I saw him once during a Nerd Night session, in which he involved the audience in writing a collective song together. Personally, I find it the best way of public speaking: interactive and engaging. As this is his signature style, he got us to compose a simple song together. As he said, songs and music have universal values that transcend all differences, be they cultural, social, or racial. Here’s what we got as an entertaining, yet inspiring lyric:
“Love is peace Endure for hope Collaborate to prepare for change Everything will recover if we work together Everything will recover if we work together Courage for Cambodia Hope floods our hearts.”
Josh Jones – Cambodian Coffee
Josh amazed us by his 2-minute self-introduction in fluent Khmer. I was even surprised to hear such a specialized topic as coffee. But I guess the panel selected him for his innovative idea? I’m not sure about this, but his contextualization and explanation of why Cambodia should improve its coffee taste made a lot of sense to me. Every country seems to be identifiable by their coffee, like Brazil, Italia, Vietnam. This reminded me of what a friend’s relative from Laos thought about Cambodian coffee: “It tastes like washing water”! I must admit this improvable aspect when I savored Lao and Vietnamese coffee. All it needs is also to re-package our coffee, according to Josh. That’s why he advised: “Cambodian coffee needs quality and consistency.”
Kosal Khiev – Storytelling and Empathy
I happen to run into Kosal here and there in Phnom Penh. Only during this event did I learn more about his background, twists and turns. While every other speaker spoke, he told us his stories, despite his past as a detainee in the US due to his involvement in a violence gang. I bet he represents other exiled Cambodian-American people, whose past and lives we misunderstand about. Maybe their time spent in jail changed their behavior. Maybe their settlement in Cambodia exposes them to new lives. In either case, Kosal seemed to vibrate all the audience with his past experience and how he found a new path to a better life here in Cambodia. This is the path: “Storytelling changes my life.”
Preetam Rai – Unlikely Diplomats
I first got Preetam’s acquaintance Nila, who also talked during the previous TEDxPP. Every year, you can see him in BarCamp, a sharing event about IT. But he was there speaking about how Cambodian bloggers could be their country’s ambassadors. More often than not, he raised the case of Nila and her blogger friends, who travelled all the way to neighbor countries, just to share a topic with local people. What was obvious to me was that he seemed to promote BarCamp Phnom Penh, a less formal event than TED! If I have to sum up his speech, it should be: “Let’s start showing up and change the world.”
Once again, it was time for random discussion at the table. I didn’t see those I met in previous breaks, but Nila and her boyfriend, Ani. They were there surfing over Internet before she went to the airport for another scholarship trip.
Tea Break: Each audience member kept on chatting about their discovery or revelation from all the topics so far. We, MC, took the chance to pose for group photos because we rarely come to such an event as a complete group. (Well, let’s pretend it’s complete it without brother Virith!)
Maria Fernandez Sabau – Connecting the Dots
As I said above, I met her without knowing she would be, too, a speaker! A bit like a few other speakers, she claimed that we, adults, have lost creativity, much of which we had back in childhood. So she invited us to do a drawing exercise. I didn’t know what this lead to, but drawing while closing our eyes and using two hands at the same time was quite an assignment! Doubtlessly, this visualization technique resembled what I did during DMI training courses. But little did I know it also had to do with creativity. So to re-activate our mental capacity, she said: “Be creative. Use both sides of your brains.” (Photo of Maria by Keuk Narin)
Dinna Chhan & Warren Daly – The Art of Visual Obsolescence
Then came the last session of the day, conducted by Dinna (Cambodian) and Warren (American?). Coincidentally, they also addressed creativity, but their approach had to do with used objects. While Warren talked, Dinna performed her drawing on a whiteboard using a tablet, an old projector and other old-fashioned technology stuff. Their idea to advocate for was, with time and money constraints, one could be as creative as an artist by using obsolete items to make art pieces like them. Although abstract their drawing may look to me, I could feel their message! That is why what I thought about them was: “Creativity happens when you stop thinking about the barriers.”
Finally, before we said good-bye, our traditional session was to take a lot of group photos, some of which are “crazy” or “plainly fun”! Looked like half of the speakers went off before the closing. Yet, I personally did enjoy all the experience they’d shared with us. This time around, the background spectrum was widened and the room design stood with those chair designs and standing puppets. As an extra souvenir, we were allowed to take each one chair cover back home!
TEDxPP was not finished at that time yet. As usual, the organizing team invited all speakers and audience to enjoy an after-party so they can continue to share and spread ideas. I couldn’t make it at this party as it clashed with two other events: “Sounding Room” by SaSa Arts and “Dontrey magazine launch” by DMC students in that same evening. After all, the topics I was exposed to during the day considerably differed from the previous TEDx although I found two common areas: mistakes and creativity. Hope to see you in the next TEDxPP.
So next time, when you make a mistake at work, play around with as many creative approaches as possible!!!