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Middle Kingdom Podcasts (2005-2017)

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Learn 4 Life - Cambodia

Learn 4 Life English Language Center

Siem Reap, Cambodia NGO

July 3 – September 8, 2017 

It took a couple of years to get this volunteer gig through

Students pay $30 for nine weeks.

13-30 years young - 70 in four classes.

One hour a day M-F.

“Push Them Through,” ordered the head teacher, minus heart, a desperate myopic anal 60-year old female Kiwi volunteer.

Grammar Nazi.

“I am in control,” she articulated with marbles in her mouth. “And I love marking. I run this place like a national school even if half the students don’t show up.”

Her good intentions accquiesced to text-based learning. 

Kids have jobs, school and responsibilities.

Attendance is optional. Dance is mandatory.

Elementary & pre-Intermediate with basic English skills are taught by native speaking barbarians.

Khmer teachers do Beginners. It’s a job.

“Khmer students see a teacher as father #2,” said a gregarious young male Khmer teacher.

Respect blind obedience and ZERO critical thinking questions. “Why” is not allowed.

Formal education conditioned them into silence.

It reminded me of Leo, a 14-year old in Fujian, China where I taught at a private business university in 2005-2007 saying, “On day one my middle school teacher said, ‘I want you to only bring two things to class. Your ears.’”

Final Enlightening Lesson

Friday, September 8, 2017

Process vs. Product (Whiteboard Finale)

Product -

Mark/Grade #

So What?

60 is heaven

59 is hell o jolly mellow fellow

Asian education 101. Brave New World.

Pass the soma.

Three unit tests are not factored into final grade.

Final exam - Grammar 40%, Listening 20%, Reading 10%, Writing 15% Speaking 15%

Writing and speaking active skill values reflect dystopian educational focus.

Students with courage lack vocabulary.

Students with vocabulary lack courage.

Process -

What I learn

How I learn

How I feel



Choices & Decisions




Communication teamwork and group dynamics.


Chess – problem solving, planning, logic, creative thinking, accepting responsibility for decisions. Pattern recognition.

Spacial relationships.

Working memory.

Long-term memory.

Play. Learn. Share.

Creative notebook - drawing, free writing, imagination - a different kind of “product.” Going strong when textbooks gather dust.

(After Grade 6 Khmer students don’t enjoy music or art. Rote learning robots.)

Drawing their dream daily in class is an initial shock. They adapt, adjust and evolve their vision like Picasso/Van Gogh/M.C. Escher singing, “I love to color!”


My role was to travel with you to this stage.

You have the tools now.

Eye + hand + heart.

Two won’t do.

The wisdom of your heart is greater than the knowledge in your head.

School gives you a lesson then a test.

Life gives you a test then a lesson.

Don’t let school get in the way of your education.

You’re on your own. Follow your heart.



kid joy

Ah, to be young and happy.

Where are you now? Central Asia. Where language began 9,000 years ago.

On a warm Sunday he went to the local Siem Reap java joint to draw, color and share stories with three kid friends. They played "king" wearing Merlin magician pointed hats from a birthday party.

One girl, 6, said, "did you finish your story?" She referred to seeing me last week with a red pen and pile of paper.

Subject to Change manuscript, doing a red line edit. Day by day. In the morning, in a quiet time/place before noon, no distractions, bird by bird, page by page, configuring words, structure, sense and flow. 

"Yes, I finished the will be abandoned with intuition and curiosity."

I made images of them in magic hats, drew on blank paper, drank coffee, smoked, laughed with them and wandered off. See you in the next life.

It's always pure joy w/kids. We are innocent and mad. Trust and play.

He is a calm lunatic in the "fun zone."


Trust your intuition

Trust your blazing intuition on a hot Saturday after walking along the green leafy river street. Walk down an old familiar broken unsaved path. You know left and right. Go forward. The road is made by walking.

Thread follows needle.

It's a small self-contained place. A room. A bed. Small kitchen.

She is in a plastic recliner watching tv. He has a feeling. It reminds him of the V woman in Kampot, with the massage sign. He stops. Steps past bamboo. She's maybe 30, lipstick, smile, good eyes. They talk money. She locks the glass door covered in old newspapers. Pulls a curtain closed. Kills the tv. She is not a chicken.

They shower. They scrub each other.

Her naked body is white. She caresses him and goes down slobbering, noisy, sensations - she moves so he can tongue her essence. He eats, saliva, lips, long luxurious. He discovers her need. She moves faster. Yes. Yes. Yes. She shudders, releases. He pulls her closer increasing the desire. She can't move, her passion flows again, again, until she's exhausted.

She turns over. He enters her, moaning her lips, her legs up, over his shoulders, her pain pleasure, joy - kissing his ears, cheeks, and he never comes. It's only about her pleasure.

She gives him mouthwash. He swishes it around and spits it out. They shower, dress and he hands her paper. She smiles. He leaves.

Tropical sun penetrates atmospheric conditions.

Trust your intuition. Yum-yum.


red dirt

Once upon a time there was a sliding, sweating, swearing happy tennis player in Paris.

Terra battue, red dirt. Clay. Crushed rock. Players try to crush their opponent.

Flame and glory.

Work the ball. Patience. Determination. Run and slide. Run and slide.

Get dirty playing dirt ball.

Dust gets in your eyes. Long exhausting rallies.

Drink water. Lots of water. Eat a banana. More water. 

Mental toughness. Savy guile. Sweet touch. 

Play percentages; in, direction, depth, spin, power. Consistency.

Make them hit one more ball.

Dirt negates power. 

Work the ball. Grind it out, said a weeping elephant.



“Is that why there is pain and delight in human  relationships?” a woman asked.

 “Yes,” the teacher said. “The collective unconscious is too big to live out our personality so we create outer figures, projections saying, Bear my anima for me. This creates the pain and suffering. When there is individuation there is a strong ego personality.”

“Please give us an example?” 

“Well, war is like a falling in love experience. The shadow, the dark side, exists with the bright side and is misunderstood. The shadow is projected in dreams. In war. Veterans carry images of losing, darkness, violence, destruction and evil inside them.”

“What is the healing tendency?”

“One must find meaning. It requires self honesty. They  respect dreams and the unconscious. They play. Fantasy is good, dynamic play. It is about symbolic levels. The collective unconscious is manifested in all cultures. This is why Jung was attracted to Asian symbols. He believed they existed near the bottom of their unconscious in an instinctual life.”

“People in the western cultures are afraid of death? Why?”

“Old age is a value feeling. Unfortunately, in some cultures it is perceived as insulting. It is the archetype of the old fool. It is fuller than the wise man. We create meaning. The imagination is the reality of the psyche combined with pure play. We listen to the wisdom of the dream. Everything we do comes from the heart.”