What do a game show, discussing pilots in taxis, and shooting arrows at a target 50 metres away have in common? How about playing charades or racing while carrying a ball with chopsticks? The answer – our weeklong annual staff retreat in Siem Reap.
With an overall goal of enhancing our supportive teamwork, our retreat was filled with attention-grabbing presentations, thought-provoking metaphors, and fun activities aimed at team building. In all, over the past week, our Cambodia Team’s collaboration and support have progressed significantly. Yet, that was not the only progress made; our entire retreat was defined by progress through nine showcases.
We learned from former Changemakers who are now supporting the second cohort and interacted hands-on with Educational Technology resources developed from scratch. This was an opportunity for those outside of the program team, to see the resources teachers are using each day to enhance lesson delivery. We celebrated the success of completed and ongoing projects alike, such as the Embedding Mentoring and Literacy projects.
A case in point was the fundraising presentation; designed as a game show, staff had to answer questions about SeeBeyondBorders’ fundraising practices and partners in pursuit of first place, learning and collaborating in teams in the process.
"We wanted to try something a bit different so through a fundraising game show, our colleagues would have to work as a team to get the answers. It created a fun experience where everyone learned a lot.”
These showcases, at times, empowered staff to challenge their minds, too. A powerful HR presentation stressed the importance of well-being and mental health, prompting colleagues to check in with one another throughout the remainder of the retreat. Later on, two tricky finance case studies sparked many discussions – on varying conversion rates between USD and KHR, on reimbursement procedures, and much more.
Supporting one another was a key theme throughout the retreat. Over the course of the week our Siem Reap and Battambang teams got to know each other better, striking up conversation during meals and coffee breaks together. Then, as an emphasis on SeeBeyondBorders’ network of international support, staff watched videos sent in from Australia, Ireland, and the UK.
Reconnecting with Our Roots!
A particular highlight during the retreat was the opportunity to watch a special video message from Edward and Kate Shuttleworth, the co-founders of SeeBeyondBorders, sharing their support for the continued work being done since their retirement. We look forward to connecting with them again in the near future.
“Thank you Ed and Kate for your unwavering dedication and commitment to SeeBeyondBorders. Even though we may be physically apart, the connection and impact you have made on the organisation will always remain. Your efforts and contributions have been invaluable in helping SeeBeyondBorders continue to grow and achieve its goals. Thank you for making the best, unforgettable memories.”
Despite the time spent reflecting on the recent past, we also set our eyes on the future. As our projects and education in Cambodia both continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve begun preparing to launch a new project, Transform Education, in the Srei Snam and Kralanh Districts of Siem Reap Province. With an excited anticipation for its outset in 2024, staff explored the project’s intended outcomes for heightened teacher collaboration and competency, and the positive impact this will have on student results and understanding.
Ambitious plans for the future do not come without their challenges. As part of this retreat, time was spent acknowledging some of the challenges we face as an organisation and how we can address these. Pov spent time discussing our struggle to build sustainability in previous projects and how a focus on shifting ownership is needed in Siem Reap- with communities leading educational change with our support, within their own districts.
Above all, as we considered what the next few years hold for SeeBeyondBorders, we focused on the overarching goal of being locally driven and internationally engaged. preference. Lok Taing Im, General Manager Shared Services, explained that she was very “content to see all national team members actively involved by leading various sessions using their own language, approach and skill.” Our focus on locally-led development and inclusivity is the common thread that strings through all of our actions and initiatives as we step into the next phase of SeeBeyondBorders’ programs.
“Throughout our retreat, we celebrated our achievements together by enhancing our strengths and abilities through Communities of Practice. The work our team does starts from our hands and hearts.”