Lavish Buses, Giant Inflatable Soccer Coaches, Mystery Illnesses and Actually Working (June 19-27)

It has been quite a busy week full of some major changes. On June 20 (Saturday) we spent our last day in Cordoba. This mostly involved packing up from our hostel and buying a replica Maradona jersey in local market area near Plaza San Martin. We then had a last meal of lomitos which I am now obsessed with. Essentially they are a sandwich that has a pounded thin piece of steak, with some lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise (usually house made or at least distinct at each place that makes it), and sometimes a fried egg. They are unbelievable and I am absolutely positive if a store that served them opened up near any college campus they would be full all the time. I’m going to file this one under “My Million Dollar Ideas.” They’re classier and tastier than a hamburger, but just as cheap and satisfying. They also great with fries. That night we caught the overnight bus to Buenos Aires, which was actually nicer than most planes I have been on. We had seats that laid all the way back to make beds (Geoff and I were an inch or two too tall to get the full effect). I got about the best sleep I’ve ever gotten on a bus or plane (still not great though). Interestingly enough most of the other passengers around me seemed to be part of a high school rhythmic gymnastics team so there were an inordinate amount of hula-hoops shoved into the baggage areas. There was also a “stewardess” (I guess that’s what you would call here) that served us a meal (somehow worse than airplane food) but the fact that there was meal service impressed me. They even came around after food to offer coffee, caramels and whiskey (there was also a movie). After hearing some stories from other students about bus rides while abroad and having taken long bus rides in Peru, I was amazed at how nice of a ride it was. We took the overnight bus because we were advised that there was literally nothing between Cordoba and Buenos Aires. The description proved to be dead on accurate from what I saw.

We pulled into the city just as the sun started coming up. We hopped in cabs and Professor Adler met us at our apartment which is very nice and probably more spacious than we need for the three of us. It is located right in the Centro almost equidistant from the law firms we will be interning at. We all immediately tried to nap to make up for the half sleep we all got on the bus. After a few hours of that we all got up and walked around some of the pedestrian shopping avenues (LaValle and Florida) in our neighborhood. These avenues were great chance to view the eclectic mix of architecture in the city. Zoning laws seem to be non-existent and old Parisian style buildings stand next to sleek modern stores and office, which stand next to ugly and decaying buildings from the 70’s. We stopped in a few stores and bought some things to supplement the limited supply of work clothes we had brought with us from the states. That night we joined Professor Adler and his wife at a nice little restaurant that was also a book store. We had great food, including probably the rarest steak I’ve ever eaten. Apparently my concern for them overcooking for tourists wasn’t as justified as I thought and next time I can order it a little more cooked than “azul.” Along with dinner was a live performance by a singer who sang songs from all over the word. He was an incredibly talented guitarist and it was a great way to spend the evening. After dinner we went out to hit the bars and luckily, after a little searching, probably found the only one easily walkable from our apartment that was busy on a Sunday night. Something about the name “Killkenny’s” just didn’t seem quite as genuinely Argentinean as we were hoping though.

Monday was a holiday so we took the opportunity to sleep half the day. Apparently Flag Day is a real holiday in some countries. I took the opportunity to stock up on some food etc. form the local groceries that seem to be located on every block and almost all run by Asian families. The next day we each went to meetings in the morning or early afternoon to meet with the lawyers at our respective law firms where we’d be interning. The meetings were held early because just about every office was closing at 3:30 to watch Argentina play Greece. My meeting went great. I got to meet the partners at Fiorito, Murray & Diaz Cordera in their new modern offices adjacent to Plaza San Martin. Thankfully, their English is even better than my Spanish and they seemed excited to have me. It’s a medium sized firm in Buenos Aires (12 lawyers including 3 partners) that, despite being relatively new, has a great reputation and was incredibly warm and welcoming.

After the meeting I there were people flooding to Plaza San Martin to watch on a giant screen set up there, but I was in no mood to celebrate an impending soccer victory in a suit. I made it home to watch the game with Geoff and Jersey and don my Maradona jersey and Argentina flag/cape. Much like Cordoba, the streets were empty during the game until Argentina scored, at which time the streets erupted in celebrations and noise for a minute or two before everyone ran back inside to continue watching. After Argentina’s 2-0 victory we joined the celebrations in the street and found our way to the Obelisk (picture the Washington monument except it’s in the median of the world’s widest avenue). Hundreds of people congregated there and within a few minutes, seemingly out of nowhere, a 40 ft tall inflatable bust of Maradona sprung up. We danced, chanted and partook in celebratory drinks under his watchful eye for hours until well after nightfall. At that point we returned home to rest up for the start of our internships the next day.

I don’t think the details of my first week of work make for good reading on a blog, but I was excited to be able to start a research project for one of the partners, Thomas Fiorito, regarding comparative practices of evaluating stock premiums in the US and Argentina. Although I did not really see myself being so intrigued by financial valuations and stock purchases, it has proved quite fascinating and I look forward to working more on the topic in the next few weeks. I also plan on making it the subject of the paper I will be writing at the end of this program. Otherwise a lot of my work has been focused on translating documents and editing translations that the other associates have made. It’s been trying at times but my Spanish has definitely gotten better for it. It is also very satisfying to be doing work that gives me a much better idea of the work the firm does, as well as my work product being used by the lawyers in house as well as being sent out to clients. Also of note is how warm, friendly and welcoming all the lawyers here have been, and the fact that an associate cooked me lunch in the office kitchen to welcome me to the firm.

Over the weekend we ventured out to the Palermo neighborhood to check out the nightlife. As was the case is Cordoba, nothing really gets started until 2am here. Palermo is called the SOHO Buenos Aires and is full of bars and restaurants frequented by the young people from the city and abroad. I see myself spending a lot more time there on weekends if I can keep brining myself to keep up with the crazy Argentina party hours. We found some fun bars and good food. I also attended a birthday party for one of the associates from FMDC in the Recoleta neighborhood the next day. It was just what I needed after a disappointing US loss to Ghana and exit from the World Cup. All the associates are my age (25-27) so it was a great opportunity to meet local people my age. Many of them had visited San Francisco before and were excited to meet someone from there. All the rest were also exceptionally nice and friendly. However, my lack of sleep from the night before soon caught up to me and I called it an early night. Sunday I was hit with the makings of a nasty cold after going out so much in the cold and rainy Argentine winter. I barely left the house and was content to drink OJ, eat soup, and watch Argentina beat Mexico 3-1 (technically should have been 2-1 but with these World Cup Referees goals aren’t always real, or are just completely ignored and called off). It will assuredly make for interesting water cooler conversation in the coming week at work.

The Pronged Approach

Maybe because I got to SE Asia about 1 week after finals were over, or maybe I've just been having too much fun... but, I can't seem to get myself to journal/blog/anything, no matter how hard I try.

But, here I sit, patiently awaiting Fall 2010 registration to open online (it's 11pm Cambodia time right now), and I can see that the pressure is on to write something witty and informative, so I guess now's the time.

Seeing that I traveled through Vietnam for 3 weeks before arriving in Cambodia and there's just too much to write about, I've decided to give a quick and dirty bullet-point list of the mind-opening, strange, moving, and sometimes funny things I've seen on my trip thus far:

  • MOTORBIKES!!! (never, ever run across the street, just close your eyes and walk like a zombie).
  • When there's a huge gust of dust-filled wind, a monsoon is sure to follow. I now know to never wear lip-gloss when there are dark clouds in the sky.
  • Not sure why, but the locals in Vietnam sit at the smallest tables on the smallest plastic chairs I've ever seen outside of an elementary school. But, the second you cross the border into Cambodia, the chairs and tables are full-size. (Maybe Brian should have come to Cambodia instead.)
  • When your bus gets a flat in the middle of nowhere in Cambodia, just go play "proper football" with the local kids... you will become an instant hero.
  • The Cambodian Penal Code includes very specific definitions and sentences for things like crimes against humanity, genocide, crimes against the dignity of the person, and "cheating" which basically means the same as a dine and dash. Oh, and being a dead-beat dad is punishable up to 5 years.
  • Although the US helped to draft the Convention on the Rights of the Child with UNICEF 20 years ago, the US (along with Somalia) has yet to ratify it, with or without reservations. Cambodia ratified it long ago, without reservation.
  • Skin whitening is all the rage with the ladies.
  • Cockroaches can fly, but they don't bite, so really, it's not a big deal.
  • Inexplicably, all of the dogs in Vietnam looked the same, yet in Cambodia, they are all different.
  • When a woman is raped in Cambodia, she and her family often take the "mediation" route and settle on a monetary payment from the accused instead of taking the case to trial. The reasons for doing this are very complex culturally and legally. But, a classmate compared it to Michael Jackson's payment to his accusers... so I guess it happens in the States, too.
  • The baguettes and the pho are amazing here. But, I really miss Mexican food.
  • I really like soccer now that I've seen the world turned upside down with excitement.
  • Everyone who has the opportunity should go to Hoi An, Vietnam. It's like the Venice of Vietnam (although I'm speculating since I've never been to Venice). So perfect in every way.
  • Earlier tonight, I saw an infomercial for bottled "Chicken Essence" which is consumed like an energy drink. I think I might stock up before next finals season.
That's it for now. I feel like I just updated my fb status a bunch of times. I have the feeling that the next post will be more detailed. Till then!

Getting Down to Business in Vietnam

BRIAN RAYNOR, VIETNAM:

Dear Dean Brand,

Vietnam is a blast, largely because Paige is not here. Thanks for
sending her to another country.

Also, they don't play Superman on HBO here. Please look into that for me.

Thanks,
Brian


Vietnam really is a blast. Hanoi, where I stayed during my first week
in Vietnam, is a bustling, cramped and stiflingly hot bundle of
energy. It has a real charm about it, and the people go out of their
way to make you feel more than welcome. Ho Chi Minh City, on the
other hand, is downright genteel, open and pleasantly warm by
comparison (take that with a grain of salt, because it's still
freakin' hot and your life is at risk whenever you are within twenty
feet of an intersection). Because this is my first trip to Southeast
Asia, I have no way to know whether HCMC is on its way to becoming a
Singapore or a Hong Kong, as some observers have suggested. I can
report that HCMC offers many more western conveniences, high-end
restaurants and general comfort than I was expecting. The city is
growing exponentially, and in every direction you can find high-rises
with giant neon signs on them. Despite their differences, you cannot
go wrong in either city; Hanoi for its quaint (authentic?) charms,
HCMC for its cosmopolitan zeal.

I do, however, have one small qualm applicable to both: eating from
street kitchens would be far more enjoyable if I was not sitting on an
8-inch-tall plastic stool. For the record, I have already one of
them. I love the food at these joints, and have become adept at
conveying what I would like, cleaning my chopsticks appropriately and
generally not seeming completely like a foreigner. But nothing ruins
a good meal like crashing to the floor and throwing your chopsticks
across the table. I think I need to start carrying a fold up chair
around with me. Or drop a hundred pounds.

Work has been good so far. My co-workers are a great bunch of people
and I am really enjoying my placement. The projects I am assigned
range from tedious translation work to interesting research. The
latter especially has given me a chance to engage with the law and get
a feel for the burgeoning Vietnamese legal system.

In general, I am struck by how similar much Vietnamese legislation is
to American law. Nonetheless, the socialist objectives of the state
still manage to infiltrate pretty much everything. For example, to
enter into a contract in Vietnam, the parties must have capacity to
contract, the objectives of the contract must not contravene the law
and offer and acceptance must be voluntary, all notions that American
law students learn in a first year contracts course. In addition,
however, there is a requirement that the terms of the contract not
contravene "social morals," adding a high degree of subjectivity to
whether a given contract can be enforced. What these morals are and
who determines whether they have been breached is not stated in the
Civil Code – or anywhere else. This might not be a problem if there
were some interpretative body to decipher the meaning of the law. But
no such body exists.

One would imagine that many foreign investors (and their lawyers)
would be scared off by such a clause because of the uncertainty it
creates as to the enforceability of contracts. This is especially
true because there are plenty of other examples of subjective criteria
to allow or disallow particular acts, such as one which found its way
into Vietnam's WTO commitments, on the list of "Import Prohibitions."
You can find items, many of which are likely on a similar list in the
U.S., like opium, guns, bombs, tanks, environmental pollutants (not
stuff that creates pollutants, mind you, just the pollutants
themselves) and asbestos products. You will also find that you cannot
import "depraved and reactionary cultural products." Now we're
talking!

So, you ask yourself, "what cultural products are depraved and
reactionary?" Well, most likely pornography falls into the depraved
category. I would probably throw in Lady Gaga, British rom-coms,
tighty-whities and vegemite as well. What about reactionary? Photos
of Dubya, perhaps? Films with Mel Gibson? Sleep Number beds
(endorsed by Rush Limbaugh)? The Teletubbies? Well, definitely not
the last one; after all, there was allegedly a gay Teletubby. They
probably go into the depraved category. Facebook on the other hand?
Let's just say the Vietnamese government thinks Mussolini would have
had a lot of friends.

Whatever you or I think is depraved and reactionary doesn't matter,
however. Such decisions are subject to the whims of various customs
control officials. These types of subjective loopholes would usually
scare the bejeezus out of prudent business people. But business in
Vietnam is booming, and foreign investment is driving the growth. In
fact, there are foreign businesses moving operations into Vietnam from
China. Why you ask? Frankly, I'm not entirely sure, and hopefully it
is something I will more fully understand the longer I am here. What
is clear is that the government is actively courting foreign
investment, and foreign investors seems to take the government at its
(spoken) word. For the largest investment projects, the government
will go out of its way to ensure that foreign capital finds its way
into the country, written laws be damned.

But when it comes right down to it, decisions to invest in Vietnam are
based on thorough cost-benefit analyses. Is it a legal risk to invest
in Vietnam and open, say, a manufacturing plant? Sure. If the wrong
bureaucrat gets his hands on your investment certificate request, the
party is over, take your losses, and go home. But the benefits of
cheap workers, relaxed (or unenforced) labor laws, unbelievable tax
incentives and nonexistent regulatory enforcement are a potent and
winning mix for foreign investors.

So Vietnam will continue to boom, so long as it continues to offer
investors attractive incentives and despite the arbitrariness of some
(most?) of its legal enactments. At least all of the socialist
rhetoric makes legal research fun. And just imagine the memos to
clients:

Dear Dean Brand,

I regret to inform you that an official at the Ministry of Labour, War
Invalids, and Social Policy has determined that American law school
deans are generally considered "reactionary," contravening Article __
of Decree __ regulating visa issuance. Our law firm cannot,
therefore, assist you in obtaining a visa to Vietnam.

Have a great day.

Week 1 in Cambodia: Orientation + Adjustment

Getting off the plane in Phnom Penh, groggy but full of anticipation, the first thing to hit you is the heat. It's like stepping into a sauna. With all your clothes on. The sweat just starts trickling down your back. Thank God for air conditioning.

Tuk-tuks are pretty interesting. It's a motorcycle that pulls an open buggy that you sit in. The driving here is ridiculous -- tuk-tuks, cars, motorcycles, pedestrians all in the same place at the same time, honking left and right, passing within an inch of each other to maneuver, riding both lanes and cutting each other off... I'll never complain about SF traffic again! I give Jamal major props for having the guts to drive a "moto" (motorcycle) out here. I guess you get used to it though - the locals have their babies and even dogs driving with them on their motos.

The city itself is an eye-opener. There are beautiful and ornate buildings -- all with pictures of the Queen on them. There is a gorgeous river and some very fancy-looking hotels. Juxtaposed and adjacent to some of these are run-down structures with garbage on the curb. Yesterday there were a whole bunch of people gathered in the square by Independence Monument all learning some kind of dance. Chickens were also walking around on the street, just chilling and minding their own business.

Besides the culture-shock, it's been absolutely amazing learning about the Cambodia legal systems. It's just really different from everything we're used to in the U.S. And it's really hard to believe everything these people have been through: war, genocide, famine, political instability and national rebuilding of culture and infrastructure. The speakers have all been really great. They are so knowledgeable. The people here - especially the students we've met at RULE (Royal University of Law and Economics) - are so nice! I'm really excited to see a Cambodian court today.

Must get ready for breakfast before we tuk-tuk out to lecture! Food in Cambodia is so flavorful -- I am not going to lose any weight out here as planned.

Beach Party Vietnam - 1/2

Dear Dean Brand,
We're now back in Phnom Penh and beginning to work at our various NGO's. We're in our slacks and collared shirts; blouses and pencil skirts and uncomfortable shoes. We're hot and pretending not to be and find ourselves again using impressive language like "adverse", "organic law", "regime" and "what's on HBO?"

While we certainly aren't unhappy, it is inevitable that we look back on our short vacation with nostalgia and glee.

To wit, this video.

Paige "I heart PP" Fowler and I rented motos and toured around the Russian vacation spot Mui Ne in Vietnam. I taped my camera to the handle bars of my red and black Yamaha Nuovo RS-X which was WAY not as cool as than the black Nuovo RS-X bike Paige Fowler rented.

Anyway, here's a clip of highway driving down to one of the lesser beaches we found.

video

-DJC

Classes and Touring Cordoba Province (6/14 - 6/19)

It has been quite the busy and tiring week here in Cordoba. On Monday we met up with Professor Adler at our hostel in the morning. There we met our coordinator for the trip, Estela, who is an attorney in the province and incredibly nice. After some discussions about the upcoming classes and internships to follow in Buenos Aires we were joined by Mariana who would be showing us around the city and taking us on day trips out of the city when we were done with classes. She is exceptionally nice as well with a great sense of humor. After discussing our plans for the week, Estela showed us to where we would be doing our classes at the Universidad Catholica de Cordoba, a Jesuit University located in the center of the Jesuit block (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) in the city. We took the opportunity to have an informal class session to discuss the differences between the common law system the United States uses and the civil law system used in Argentina.

On Tuesday we started the day with a tour of the Nueva Cordoba section of the city where we were staying. Mariana our guide showed us where all the nightlife was centered and was able to explain to us the unique nature of the bars in Cordoba. Essentially, no one goes out until 2am. They stay out at the bars and discos until 5am when the after-hours clubs open. It’s quite different from all the cities I’ve lived in where all the bars are required to close at 2am. We then checked out some of the amazing churches in the area. Most of them are of a baroque style and all of them, despite their age, seemed to have ornate and gilded details just dripping off of every surface. In many ways it reminded me of the cethedrals I had seen in Europe of a similar style. We then went to the Palacio Ferreyra which is somewhat comparable to the White House in that it is an entire city block in the middle of a busy downtown area with a huge mansion and lawns behind a tall iron fence. However, this French inspired stone mansion was a private residence until just a few years. The government had only recently purchased it from the family the built it and lived in it for generations and converted it into a museum to house part of the national art collection. The house itself was a work of art, blending the original elements with new and modern additions (e.g. a staircase covered in cow hides). The collection there was outstanding with a fantastic mix of South American artists from a variety of ages. One of the rooms dedicated to art reflecting the “Guerra Sucia” and the kidnappings and killings of the period was especially powerful and moving.

After lunch we regrouped at the university for a class where we discussed themes of constitutional law and distinctions between the judiciaries of the U.S. and Argentina. The class was taught in Spanish, and although we had Estela there to provide translation for us as needed, we surprised ourselves with how well we were able to understand and participate in Spanish. We barely even needed her to translate and would often chime in to supplement the information in Spanish. It was incredibly fascinating to learn that the Cordoba Province is the first and only in Argentina to implement a jury system to their judiciary. However, here the jury functions more as a single vote in addition to the votes of a panel of judges that hears criminal cases. When the class ended, an official from the university came to bestow on us gifts of UCC swag. He then generously brought us to the bookstore where he loaded us up with books about topics we had expressed interest in, as well as many books on Cordoba and its history that he simply would not let us leave without. So much for traveling light. That night we decided to splurge a little on fancy steak dinner, where the meal included some of the best empanadas I’ve ever had, steaks the size shape and weight of building bricks, and local malbecs to wash it all down.

On Wednesday we started the day at the university taking a class with a different professor regarding issues of international law which, while incredibly relevant to our internships, would not make for very enjoyable blog material. That afternoon after class our guide Mariana took us to the nearby town of Alta Gracia where we toured the local estancia. The estancias in Argentina were like estates/plantations that the Jesuits built to help support their universities and churches financially. The old architecture was beautiful and it was nice to get out of the city and explore a smaller town. Alta Gracia was also where Che Guevara grew up and we were able to tour his childhood home. That night the power in the city went out and we prayed for the sake of public safety that it would be restored by the time Argentina’s World Cup match started the next day.

On Thursday around 8:30am we awoke to the sounds of fireworks, car horns beeping, cheering, and cheap plastic horns blowing. We immediately knew that Argentina must have scored in their match against South Korea and hastily dressed and joined the rest of the hostel watching the game downstairs. Looking outside the streets were completely deserted. However, whenever Argentina scored a goal (4 in total this game) the streets would erupt as people would run outside to cheer, chant, set of fireworks, and blow horns. Then as quickly as everyone had appeared they would disappear back inside once play resumed. Mariana arrived as soon as the game ended and took us out. We all got some Argentina flair to wear and fought out way through the celebrations in the street into the Jesuit block. She showed us around the churches and other universities in the block. The churches there we equally as ornate and beautiful as the others we had seen in the city, but all unique in their own ways. We then toured a building that was formerly a detention center for those that were arrested during the “Guerra Sucia.” It was a very moving experience and a well put together museum now, that included scrapbooks made by the family members of the desaparecidos. Right from the museum we went to a class that focused on the human rights issues relevant to the time and helped explain some of the things we had seen and left us wanting to learn even more about it.

Today (Friday) we took a long bus ride out of the city into the hills where we toured small towns started by German immigrants. The bus ride out led us up winding switchback roads through the foothills in fog as dense as any I've experienced in San Francisco. The combination of the winding roads and not being able to see more than an inch or two outside the windows was a perfect recipe for car-sickness for some of us, but fortunately there were no casualties. It was great to get out of the city and do some hiking. It was odd being in towns that had almost all alpine style architecture and German themes everywhere. If many of the signs weren’t in Spanish it would be very easy to forget altogether that we were in South America, not Germany or Bavaria. Even the place where we stopped for lunch specialized in German food. It was a long and tiring day but just what we needed before heading into the bustling city of Buenos Aires for a month.

Arriving in Cordoba, Argentina

I didn't quite realize how far away Argentina is until I had to get here. I left my apartment around noon on June 9 to head to the airport. Flying to Dallas the views of the canyons and deserts were gorgeous, almost like a an extremely cursory tour of the Grand Canyon. After a layover in Dallas I took off for the next stop, Santiago, Chile. Leaving Dallas there was a huge thunderstorm system moving in. This made for quite the show with lightning flashing through the clouds every few seconds. Soon the sun started setting and the lightning kept going as we made our way south. The storm system must have been huge because the lightning continued for hours. As the sun went down it began the flashes of lightning became red and made it look as if I was flying over a fireworks display. I was actually only sure it wasn't fireworks after I realized it would be impossible since I had been watching it for so long. Eventually I tried to sleep (no success, but did get to watch Avatar finally).

As the sun came up I realized the Andes were right outside the window. Watching the sun break over the mountains and the red-orange glow from behind them was indescribably beautiful. We descended into Santiago which was hidden completely by fog until we were a few feet off the ground. After a few hours layover I flew over the Andes (which were so high they got lost in the clouds and made flying a little nerve-racking) and landed in Cordoba. Extremely thankful my checked luggage made it no problem I hopped in a cab and drove through Cordoba to the hostel, arriving a mere 28 hours after leaving home. I did a little exploring before passing out for 12 hours, even managing to sleep through the infamous nightlife of Cordoba.

The rest of my group was not arriving for two more days so I had to explore the city on my own. I checked out the Jesuit block, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, full of fantastic old Jesuit churches, statues, plazas, memorials and the Catholic University of Cordoba. Cordoba is a university town with most of the colleges in Argentina within the city. This means the population is young and the nightlife is vibrant. Most people here don't eat dinner until after 9pm, and don't go out to bars and clubs until 2am. Many clubs don't close until hours after the sun comes up.

The next day was the first match for Argentina in the World Cup. I was rudely awakened at 6am as the sounds of cheap plastic horns and singing/chanting filled the streets. Once I made it outside everyone was dressed in Argentina jerseys and was wearing flags as capes. I went to a bar down the block to watch the game. I got the last seat in the house and soon the people who came in after me were sitting on the floor of the bar. The energy in the bar rivaled that of any major championship sporting event I had ever watched (this coming from a Red Sox fan who experienced the 2004 World Series win). After the victory over Nigeria, the people I had befriended during the game told me to join them for a celebration in the streets. Seemingly everyone in the city simultaneously made they're way to a major intersection in the middle of town and within a few moments it was mobbed with thousands of people singing, chanting, beating drums, shooting off flares and fireworks and waving hundreds of flags. It literally became a sea of people in every direction and down every street. Despite the crush, somehow the city buses managed to continue running their routes (albeit very slowly) through the crowd and miraculously managed not to run over anyone. Me and my new found friends returned to the same bar to watch the US-England game. We were the only ones in the bar (same one that 2 hours before had people sitting on every available space on the floor) at that point as the rest of the city stayed out celebrating in the streets for the next few hours.

After barely being able to sleep through the noise of the celebrating and nightlife that night, I was excited to meet up with Geoff and Jersey at our hostel nearby in the morning, and relieved when the first thing they wanted to do was nap. After some much needed rest we met up with Professor Adler and his lovely wife Mary Margaret for a fantastic steak and Malbec dinner capped of with Dolce de Leche desserts. After such a crazy few days, a nice quiet meal and conversation was just what we all needed. Between me surviving the first World Cup victory in Argentina, Geoff and Jersey just arriving by bus and plane that morning, and the Adlers having just flown in after a rafting for a week in the Grand Canyon I'm sure we were quite the pathetic looking table of diners. Despite our tired states and extremely different experiences over the past few days, all we could talk about was how beautiful the city is and excited we are for the things to come.

Dean Brand Eats a Tarantula

Dear Dean Brand,
I don't know if you remember the Tarantula dish at last night's very enjoyable dinner with the group of Cambodian alums, but just in case, here's the video to remind you:

video

The Choices Men Make

Dear Dean Brand,
As others have said before, Cambodia is both familiar and unfamiliar. More so than anywhere I've been, the people here are simply genuinely polite. I'm sure the choice to smile and laugh (sometimes nervously) can be attributed in part to the mask the poor and the weak don to placate the rich and the strong but unlike with other peoples I've encountered, when the membrane of societally obligated niceties is ruptured I find myself confronted with simply more kindness and warmth - leading me to believe it's really just rather genuine.

I have to admit it is completely disarming and, therefore, unnerving. Normal people aren't nice and welcoming. Normal people are suspicious, cliquish and protect their psyches, their family dinners, and their motos with phobic vigor.

While I like it here, I will much more enjoy this country when someone instructs them in the propriety of social paranoia. I noticed the other day that "24" and "CSI" have been exported here. The developmental road which terminates at a properly atomized modern society begins, as always, with one step. I'm glad to see they've had theirs pushed in front of their feet for them.

Our primer course on the Cambodian "genocide", as it is popularly termed (the quotes are a necessity, I'm afraid, as I'm a member of the defense team for next week's moot court exercise), is almost over. It's been a great course, both as an introduction to the issues surrounding the founding and functioning of Democratic Kampuchea and as an object lesson in understanding these seemingly endless and inevitable incidents of terrible human devolution - I mean, those that happen in other countries and which have been unjustly compared to the heroic nation building in which my clients engaged.

Hey, listen, you can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs right? As such, Pol Pot and his cohorts are no different than Emeril Legasi: They took all their years of training and learning and endeavored to make something wonderful. Unfortunately they found themselves woefully under-prepared and while their creation languished, they turned to gimmicks and inane and ill-conceived additions to their creation to hopefully obfuscate their missteps. If their omelet then turned unpalatable, it wasn't for a lack of trying.

So I ask you, is Emeril Lagasi a war criminal? Please don't answer that due to the potentially devastating effects it might have on my clients' case.

In any event, and divorced from my role as Defense Counsel, I'm very much looking forward to taking what I've learned and applying it during my upcoming internship with Legal Aid Cambodia, helping further their work with the Extraordinary Chambers and promoting general justice for the many, many, aggrieved here.

I can think of no better way to guard against partisan conflict than the promotion of an integrated and just pluralistic society.

Truly, I can think of no better application of the Law than in the pursuit of that goal.

Yours,
DJC

P.S. Okay yeah, you got me, application of the Law to celebrity drug charges and international debt transactions leads to something nice too - undue and very very enjoyable wealth. As Commander Maddox said while attempting to deprive Commander Data of his status as a living thing (See: Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 2, Episode 9, "The Measure of a Man"), what about what I want, what about my rights to pursue what I want?

Good Charlotte once sang in their proper deconstruction of American society, "Boys and Girls" - "Girls don't like boys, girls like cars and money."

I'm the product of the self-obsessed first-world (and also, humanity in general). The choice between justice for distant Others and the existence of a lingerie model in the back of my Maybach is, in truth, not entirely an easy one.

I think if we're true, then we must admit that basic human selfishness, if not to destroy it, then at least to engage it knowingly - only that way can it be tempered.

Cambodian Bus Ride Trivia...


A bus ride traversing the countryside of Cambodia wouldn't be complete without it being really long, really slow, and with educational announcements every 5 minutes. Which is great, because, it's hard to tell when your'e about to enter a province, actually driving in the province, and when you have left the province.

The "stewardess" was incredibly polite, with a "thank you" at every opportunity, and she was also extremely helpful when Addie was the first of us soldiers to fall... literally....she unfortunately fainted on the journey back to Phnom Penh. Yet, again, the bus staff was awesome in their nursing capabilities. Addie is now as good as fine.


Here is Jamal's attempt to capture the bus culture and other ramblings...


Dear Dean Brand,

I heartily appreciate your condemnation of the Paige Fowler Clique and
her Capitalist Water Fantasy and follow you with every step.  Thank
you.

The Paige Fowler Clique was an ally during the journey through Kampong
Chong Province, District 4, Kingdom of Cambodia, which has 9000
hectares surface area and 14000 villages and 28 million crickets
killed.  Thank you.

Since then, her room has been kept very cold, which steps on the back
of the warm rooms.  It can be said that her room is cold because our
rooms are warm and our rooms are warm because her room is cold.  Thank
you.

The Paige Fowler Clique and the Jamal Cool Revolutionary Brigade is
like an elephant stamping on a tiger or a tiger stamping on an
elephant, Tom Sak village, Subdistrict 50 of Kampong Chong Province,
District 4, Kingdom of Cambodia thank you which has 9000 hectares
surface area and 14000 villages and 28 million crickets killed.  Thank
you.

Please advise how I should take dispreportionate revenge on the Paige
Fowler Clique and her aspirational air conditioner.  Perhaps by
steadfastly stealing her batteries with fervor or buying her a
"complimentary" Greyhound Capitalist Drink during so called "Happy
Hour" - it won't be happy no more!

Your best friend,
- Jamal



> Dear Dean Brand,
>
> Jamal keeps making fun of me. Tell him to stoooooppppp iiiiittttttt.
>
> Also, you said the Jean Paul Gaultier Evian was included in the tuition
> price. Please take care of this immediately.
>
> Best,
>
> Paige xoxoxo
>
> On Sun, May 30, 2010 at 11:31 PM,
>>
>> Dear Dean Brand,
>> Why is Paige's room so cold?  It's like she has it set on 19 degrees
>> celsius where I prefer 20.  Please suspend her from school.
>>
>> Your best friend,
>> -Jamal
>>
>> On Mon, May 31, 2010 at 11:49 AM,
>> wrote:
>> > Dear Dean Brand,
>> >
>> > why is Superman always on HBO?
>> >
>> > Best,
>> >
>> > Paige





Dear Dean Brand,

It's hard to describe the strangeness, slight disorientation, and relative oddity of daily life here in Cambodia.

So, I won't.


BUT, I will have you know that although our afternoons have been rather wanderlust-ful, our mornings have been quite busy and filled with intensive classroom/field Khmer Rouge coursework.

We've settled into Phonm Penh, and have had the privilege of visiting the International Tribunal (Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia-ECCC), S21 Tuol Sleng Prison, the Killing Fields, and the Victims Unit of the ECCC (a UN affiliate office). Professor De Nike (herein Howard) is simply remarkable in his great sense of knowledge, and his incredible biography and personal connection to the International Criminal Tribunal process, particularly here in Cambodia, has been inspirational and humbling.


We spent this past weekend in Siem Reap visiting one of the seven wonders of our world: Angkor Wat; and were also lucky enough to venture out of the comfort zone of our modest Khmer dwelling (I mean... awesome resort with a pool shaped like a river that allowed for incredible Apocalypse Now reenactments) discovering traditional Angkor culture while strolling around town.

Jamal and I have a particularly keen sense of understanding now, and would happy to share our gained knowledge with you over a margarita, while wearing knock off Raybans, and awesome disco light Casio watches.


We look forward to your arrival next week. Also, we just learned of your attendance at our Moot Court argument (right after we learned that we're apparently having a Moot Court argument...next week), held at DC Cam. Thank god you got your ticket early, it's apparently the hottest ticket in town (other than the much anticipated July 4th celebration at the U.S. Embassy: bbq, country music, and bouncy house: no joke). All Cambodian citizens are welcome to attend. Thanks Howard.

As it stands:

Paige and Jamal: Defense (aka team "Win")
Addie, Ryan, and Anne: Prosecution (aka team "We Tried")



Lastly, we checked out the Royale Hotel and Elephant Bar yesterday evening, and were quite pleased with the ambiance. So.... we're excited to visit you as often as you'll have us. Like... really.... whenever.

As you can tell, life here in Cambodia is really rough.

Best,

Paige Elizabeth


--
---------------------------------------

Raise money for your favorite charity or school just by searching the Internet with GoodSearch - www.goodsearch.com - powered by Yahoo!