Educational Adventures in Cambodia

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Life at PEPY Tours

Attitudes & Expectations


We want to take a few moments to set expectations for what your time as part of the PEPY Tours and/or PEPY (NGO) team could look like. We believe that if your expectations are in line with ours, we can mitigate potential miscommunication in the future. We also think you probably want to know what you are considering getting yourself into! So here goes… some ideas of what you can expect, what expectations we have of you, and some other insights about the PEPY culture.

 

‘IT’S NOT PERSONAL. . . IT’S PEPY!’

At PEPY Tours, we have a culture of criticism. No, we don’t mean that as a bad thing! What we mean is, we ask that people be honest, speak up, and say when they see something wrong in how we work or how we act. We want people to view themselves as part of the PEPY Tours team, and take pride in making our organization as great as “we” possibly can. As such, we appreciate a culture where people point out problems and work towards improvements. Pointing out problems without the commitment to solving them doesn’t jive with our culture, so we tend to keep people who are proactive, hard-working, self-starters, and who are not afraid to jump into the midst of a problem and make it better!

 

OK, FINE.  SOMETIMES IT IS PERSONAL.

You’re right. It can’t ALWAYS be about PEPY Tours. Sometimes we have to work on improving ourselves. In fact, we believe you CAN’T improve the world directly. Instead, you can improve yourself, your attitudes, your thoughts, and then your actions, and guess what? THAT improves the world. We want to work with people who are working to make THEMSELVES better people, who take on personal challenges to reach their own goals, and who are willing to have the hard conversations which start with “How could I have done things better?” We can remind each other that if we are always blaming outside forces for our own problems, WE are never going to be able to find a solution.

 

THERE IS A LOT OF ‘I’ IN ‘THIS IS MY IDEA!’

In the same vein as a willingness to give and receive criticism, we want people who are going to work well in a team. We don’t think development work can maximize effectiveness with a myopic one-organization approach to saving the world. We need our team to be good at reapplying ideas as great collaborators, willing to take the time to learn about what other organizations and people are doing. We believe in sharing our ideas as well as the lessons we are learning with others. We view mistakes as opportunities to learn, and by sharing and reflecting on them, we can not only improve our own work, but help others maximize their impact as well.

 

WORK HARD. PLAY RESPONSIBLY.

We have high expectations of our staff and our interns. We make it clear to all foreign staff that:

a)     You are a foreigner and therefore represent not only your country, but all of the outside world to any Cambodian you meet or work with.Think about that before you do something which might put you in a bad light.

b)     You are expected to follow all local laws, of course, but you are also expected to act as a role model to our local staff.  Most foreigners are accustomed to social norms which differ from local Cambodian traditions. The majority of Cambodians marry their first boyfriend or girlfriend, many never even kissing until they are married.  Most women do not drink, and drunken behavior is associated with the prevalent problem of domestic violence.

c)     We will not tolerate any PEPY Tours foreign staff breaking the trust installed in you via our PEPY Tours supported Cambodian visa. Involving yourself with drugs, prostitution, or violence is cause for immediate dismissal.

 

DRINK UP!

Or, not. In Siem Reap responsible drinking is allowed for staff, but not allowed at all when wearing a PEPY Tours t-shirt. While leading trips, a drink at dinner in a responsible manner is allowed, but trip leaders must remain sober to take care of the group, even when guests are drinking.

 

LIVING IN A SMALL TOWN

If you have done it before, you know how it goes. Everyone in the English speaking expat community knows everyone. This can get frustrating, but it is also nice to know that there is a community of people around with whom to connect. It means you need to make smart choices and always be aware that you are representing not only yourself, but PEPY Tours and your country at all times. You should make the most of the opportunities presented to make friends with local people and communicate in Khmer as a way of opening up a whole new network of friends.

 

WHERE SHOULD WE EAT?

Our staff will show you around, but remember: You are in Cambodia!  Living in Siem Reap, it’s sometimes hard to remember that. Some foreign staff have ended up eating at relatively expensive international hotels on a near daily basis.  While of course that is fun, if you are looking for a more authentic experience, it’s not a very Cambodian choice.  Furthermore, while eating at the more expensive places may seem cheap to you, it excludes Cambodian staff from joining in meals, as they probably cannot afford these grand expenses on a regular basis. We are lucky to live in a place with many modern luxuries, and while indulging in those is not frowned upon, we encourage staff to consider or at least try the $1 fried rice shops, the Ban Chao places, and of course fried vegetables with noodles…. Yum!

 

I ENJOY LONG BIKE RIDES IN THE SUNSET. . . AND COCONUTS

The PEPY Tours vibe changes depending on who is on the team, but there are always at least a few bike-happy people. We have 14 mountain or hybrid bikes upstairs,  which can be used for day rides around Siem Reap for free with permission. If anyone, staff or not, wants to take the bikes on a multi-day ride which will include bus or plane use, the PT staff will likely suggest that they rent a bicycle elsewhere (can be rented from Mr. Lucky in PP for $5 per day), as non-cycling transport can be very damaging to the bike.  Even if you are not an avid cyclist, you might want to consider bringing a pair of bike shorts along with you to try out some riding!

 

We encourage people to purchase their own one-speed basket bicycles to get around Siem Reap (typically $25-$50).

 

WE’RE HERE TO HELP (not just play!)

Some tasks are just not that glamorous. Our management has to sign accounting sheets, review budgets, and clean data in our donor spreadsheets, so we are in the same boat.  If you were thinking that working with PEPY Tours means you would be playing with Cambodian children, then this might not be the organisation for you. This is a job, and jobs have boring tasks as well as fun, interesting, stimulating, and exciting ones, of which there are also plenty. Ideally the reward of being part of something you believe in will be a motivating factor to get even the most boring filing done! The job also includes some occasional weekend work, as tours often run on the weekends.  Jump into these opportunities when they are presented to you, as by showing our team that you are willing to help out wherever needed, you are showing your commitment to helping PEPY Tours reach its goals of empowering travelers to create the changes they want to see in their lives and the world.

 

MISSION ALIGNMENT

We recognize that stone soup doesn’t taste like much at all when the soup is only a stone.  With each ingredient we add, the soup changes flavor; sometimes spicy, sometimes salty, but almost always delicious. This is a recap of some of the PEPY culture and expectations in their current form, but we know that you, and each new spice we add to the PEPY Tours “soup”, will continue to make us better and add to the taste that defines us.  We look forward to the flavors and new ideas you will bring to our team and are ready to welcome you with open arms to PEPY Tours!

 

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