CRDT Staff Retreat 2014: A Moment of Inspiration and Refreshment

Group 1CRDT was on a staff retreat during a period 16-20 August 2014 at the Catholic retreat centre in Sihanouk Ville. Around 50 staff members came to get together from Mondulkiri, Stung Treng and Kratie.

Among other interesting topics, we all joined to listen to a motivating speech by our former Chair of Board of Directors and one of the co-founders, Mr. Mao Savin calling upon all of us to look for opportunities and take on challenges to continue to develop ourselves and CRDT. We all believe that CRDT is able to maintain its growth and become more self-reliant over the next few years. We ended the retreat with an evening on the beach. Executive Director, Mr. Or Channy closed the week by thanking everyone involved.

One thing which this week had taught me is the amount of enthusiasm CRDT showed. Whether it was a workshop, a bus trip, or even during dinner, everyone was chipping in, doing their part, willing to learn more, to gain more knowledge, and to put it into practice. The energy the team gave is contagious. The founders of CRDT have set a great base for the incredibly motivating culture in which every member is willing to work hard. This retreat has helped CRDT to anchor this base even more, to grow as a team and as individuals, and to work towards our vision: A Cambodia free from poverty and environmental degradation.

CRDT Staff Retreat 2014

From 16 to 20 August 2014, a challenge? Not for CRDT. Managing social enterprises which operate in the tourism industry comes in handy at a time like this. Transportation was smoothly organized, everyone was fed and entertained, and in the end all the right arrangements were made with the retreat centre. Thanks CRDTours and Le Tonlé for the organization!

A warm welcome awaited us at the Catholic retreat centre in Sihanoukville, beautifully located on a hill overlooking the sea, just outside the town and with all the facilities for our workshops and training. What a great place to get inspired!

The first night, after dinner, we all joined to listen to a motivating speech by our former Chair of Board of Directors and one of the co-founders, Mr. Mao Savin. In essence, he called upon all of us to look for opportunities and take on challenges to continue to develop ourselves and CRDT. By thinking outside the box, continuing to be committed to the goals CRDT is setting, and building our skills towards the same direction, he hopes CRDT is able to maintain its growth and become more self-reliant over the next few years. This is to support our social mission: to improve food security, incomes, and living standards of poor rural communities in support of environmental conservation in Cambodia. For the Speech of Mr. Mao Savin, please click here.

Being full of energy, we took on this challenge, and started developing ourselves the very next morning. During a session led by Mr. Richard Davis, our Management Advisor from the UK, we learned about time management, delegating and work planning. After challenging us all to think about what wastes our time, in what way we can delegate our work more efficiently, and how we are currently planning our work, he gave us some very useful and applicable tools for our everyday work life.

We spent the afternoon relaxing at the waterfalls and beach. Swimming, playing football, singing and dancing in the bus: CRDT was having fun that was for sure! The only ‘downside’ that our staff noticed, was the amount of garbage piled up along the waterfalls and beach. There is definitely a lot of work to be done on awareness raising about waste management in Sihanouk Ville.

That night Mr. Richard Davis talked to us about “Being Professional”. Being CRDT staff, we are setting an example for our partners: beneficiaries, donors and other NGO’s or private organizations. We, the staff members, are the business card of CRDT. When we meet with our partners, we want them to think: ‘I want to work with this organization. They do good work, I trust them and value their output. This is a professional organization’. Practical tips such as being on time, dressing appropriately, and knowing who you’re talking to and about what topic, were very useful for all of us in our daily professional lives.

The 3rd Day separated the group into two. There were two field visits planned, one to Mong Reththy, and one to the vocational training centre, Don Bosco. Since the trips were at different times, the groups who were staying at the retreat centre were working on finalizing their program’s strategic plans.

At Mong Reththy business farm, we spent the whole morning listening and watching the technical staff of the farm explaining to us the successful experiences and challenges with their Australian originated mango (Ai Wen) business farm. Some of our staff members learned skills in germinating mango seeds from the farm workers. Although some techniques are too complex to be applied to our subsistence farmers, we found it valuable to take on some activities into our own practice, such as fruit tree breeding, fertilizer usage, and pest control – in particular for the Mango fruit tree. This was a great place to get some new ideas for our field staff!

The impressive Don Bosco Vocational Training school was founded in 1818, and has Training Centres throughout the west of Cambodia. The centre trains vulnerable youth in technical subjects, such as Electrical and Mechanical maintenance, as well as Social communication and Administrative work. The students combine theory and practical learning in a two year program, with new modules starting every three months. Next to the vocational training centre there is a hotel school where students are trained in a two-year program in various modules in hospitality. It was not only the team of Le Tonlé  who was interested in this, but also many of the other staff were keen to learn more about the social enterprise and this great set-up. After all, social enterprise is a key program of CRDT.

We want to say a huge thanks to Mong Reththy and Don Bosco for hosting us and showing us around!

After our fieldtrips, Ms. Ul Socheat talked to us about communication. For each of us it is important that we know who we are dealing with, and what message we should put across when communicating with our partners. She had a great exercise to practice our skills in putting across the right message to the right person. During a role-play she showed us ways of how we can communicate with donors, and in what ways we can approach our beneficiaries. A learning experience with a lot of fun!

The final day in Sihanouk Ville we started the day with a workshop on Critical Thinking, led by Ms. Genevieve Collett and Mr. Sut Samedy. Thinking critically means you are not afraid to gather more information about a subject, ask questions, read books, and search the internet. Critical thinking helps you to know what to believe and what to do with that information. By combining your own ideas with that of others, you will be able to think about different ways to assess a situation and think of different solutions to a problem. It also helps you to understand the other person’s point of view, and think outside your frame of reference. During a debating exercise we learned to not only put forward our own ideas, but to think of arguments that may support a different point of view as well.

Our last learning exercise, led by Ms. Genevieve Collett and Mr. Sann Soprey, is about teambuilding. Each separate team participated in an exercise to create our optimum team member. How can we describe the traits of our team members into one perfect person? And what would this look like if we drew it? Interestingly, each team used different tactics to draw up their perfect team member. In the end, it seemed that each team member had a trait that was valuable for the team, and for the organization as a whole.

We ended the retreat with an evening on the beach. Executive Director, Mr. Or Channy closed the week by thanking everyone involved and saying a special goodbye to Gen, who would be leaving us the next day. We played games – which involved strong teambuilding, and were taken on with great enthusiasm – ate more food, drank and danced. And during all of it we had a lot of fun and just laughed until time for bed. A great closing party indeed!

Finally, one thing which that week had taught me is the amount of enthusiasm CRDT showed. Whether it was a workshop, a bus trip, or even during dinner, everyone was chipping in, doing their part, willing to learn more, to gain more knowledge, and to put it into practice. The energy the team gave is contagious. The founders of CRDT have set a great base for the incredibly motivating culture in which every member is willing to work hard. This retreat has helped CRDT to anchor this base even more, to grow as a team and as individuals, and to work towards our vision: A Cambodia free from poverty and environmental degradation. Thank you all for a great inspiring week!

By Ms. Marloes Demmendaal

Business Coordinator, Le Tonlé and CRDTours

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IMG_20140726_125034Farmer's hut near the canal