Friday, February 21, 2014

Yoga arrives at JWOC

Lake Tahoe Yoga and Journeys Within Our Community created smiles this February.  Twelve visitors from Lake Tahoe traveled to Cambodia to donate supplies, energy and financial donations.  The focus of our projects at JWOC were to see the effects of our in-kind donations as well as to make further donations of school supplies and, of course, yoga.  We had no idea that we were going to receive, as well.

Our first day at JWOC was spent meeting and greeting.  Sarah, Tom and Navi showed us around the grounds.  We were impressed when we learned that the program was only 8 years old and had grown so significantly already.  All of us were enthused to help out during the English conversation class.  What an experience to be able to learn about local Khmer and help them to develop stronger English speaking skills!  All of us enjoyed sitting down, some one-to-one and others in groups to engage in casual conversation.  We asked and answered questions about our family life, favorite foods, experiences and more.

For our second day, we both gave and received.   Our morning began with a trip to the countryside.  We had learned, while in Phnom Penh, that many people had been displaced to the countryside during the Pol Pot Regime (Khmer Rouge).  The people living in the countryside are poor in material goods but rich in family and community.  Each "city" is referred to as a family.  While visiting, we were welcomed in as though we were one with them.

JWOC has been working to teach the communities in the countryside how to create sustainable gardens.  Due to their distance from the city and low means, they are unable to purchase the foods and materials that others have.  By learning to grow and maintain their own gardens, they can sustain themselves, their families and the community in which they live.  JWOC's efforts include using a "teaching garden," to help people learn about seeding, liquid and solid manure (all organic) and transplanting techniques in order to continually maintain growth.

[A Khmer woman shows off her "long beans."  She was so proud of her garden, she couldn't stop laughing while she showed us around.]

[A JWOC scholarship student and volunteer shows us the liquid fertilizer at a teaching garden.]

After our tour of the gardens, it was our turn to give.  We had been invited to help out during the art class and had arranged for something special.  Sixty or so children joined us for a short yoga practice.  The children demonstrated an incredible balance of fun and focus.  Amidst giggles, they mimic our yoga poses perfectly and, with patience, they listened to a story.

[The children listen to The Mitten, read by Jenay]

For the craft activities, the JWOC team separated the children into groups based upon age.  Young children cut out paper snowflakes.  Older children read letters from children in Lake Tahoe and wrote their own to send in return.  The rest worked on making Borax snowflakes - they won't see the results of their project for a few days as the water needs to evaporate.  We look forward to receiving photos of their crystallized snowflake.

Jenay, E-RYT, is the director at Lake Tahoe Yoga.  She lives an active life-style and seeks Yoga in everything she does.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

New Ideas and Fresh Faces

In all organizations staff turnover is healthy and new faces bring new ideas and fresh perspectives. JWOC is no different and I want to thank those that have left for the hard work they have put in over the years.

Our new Managing Director, Alex, has moved into the position after being with JWOC as our Education Manager. We welcome her enthusiasm and ability to work with the JWOC team as we set our goals for 2014. Filling her place as Education Manager is Sarah who is completing her masters degree in Education and International Development so has JWOC's Free Classes program close to her heart. Stepping into a new position is Tom who is excited to be working as Communications Manager. What a great team they make! Of course supporting the projects are our wonderful team of Project Managers and Vantha our Office Manager - thank you all for all you do to enable JWOC to serve the local community!

Behind the scenes and back in the USA is the JWOC board. Here too we are experiencing changes. After nine years JWOC's co-founders have stepped aside as the Executive Directors. Andrea and Brandon have given so much to JWOC over the years and we are delighted they are not moving on - they will continue to work for JWOC on the board. Stepping up to fill the Executive Director's job is Jane who has been Board Chair for the last few years, and stepping into the Chair role is Philippa who was chair prior to Jane and has been on the board since JWOC's inception. Moving on are two of the founder board members - Dawn and Rebecca. They will be missed and I would like to thank them for their hard work and their support of JWOC over the years.

Stepping into new board positions along with Andrea are Erin, Nicole, and Dudley. All three bring relevant skills and experiences and I welcome them to the board and look forward to working with them.

With new board members as well as the old we feel there is a stability and a fresh enthusiasm in the board and we are excited to be moving into 2014.

If you would like to know more about any of these folk please go to our website where both staff and board members are profiled.

If you would like to join us in continuing to make JWOC the innovative not-for-profit which truly changes lives in SE Asia contact:

me, to join the board
Alex at to volunteer in Cambodia.
Tom at to develop a fund raiser to help us achieve our goals.

many thanks
Philippa Nigg


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