First Week in Economic Empowerment Fellowship Program

By Chhair Sokty (Mr.)
On Oct 4, three of our Cambodian fellows (Mr. Sundara, Ms. Sokny, and I) arrived at Incheon Airport very early morning and it took about 10 hours to wait for a connecting flight to Seattle Tacoma Airport. Sokny went out to Seoul for her city tour. She told me that she enjoyed a lot. Later I knew that Thao, a Vietnamese fellow, also made a city tour in Incheon City. She was also very happy. Both Mr. Sen and I enjoyed staying in the airport where Mr. Sen worked on his own and I slept for five hours. Everyone enjoyed their own time; no one size fits all for happiness (Please see picture 1). On the same day after arriving to the Seattle Tacoma Airport, three of the Cambodian fellows discussed about the Action Plan in our program but we did not agree much on the plan.
Again on the night of Oct 6 when the fellows had dinner together in Sokny’s and Thanda’s room we all came to agree something on the action plan! So, serious conversation sometimes may not bring good results as what we did in Seattle airport! It is suggested that Asian diplomats should also value our dialogue and networking as well beside many formal meetings. It was a friendly dinner in the room, where we came to understand one another better and became friends in just one day. However, after dinner everyone started to be busy on their own by texting their families and friends peacefully without talking to one another. Oh we “Agree to Disagree”. I care my stuff, you care your stuff! (Please see picture 2)
My Observation in Lectures for the Last Two Days
1. American Cultural Values by Dr. Tobin Shearer
– In U.S. Society, there has been a dilemma between collective identity and personal choice (see picture 3).
– More Americans have religious affiliation. Within a century, there have been about 100% increase of Americans identified themselves with Protestant and at the same time there have been 100% decrease of Americans identified themselves with none or other minority religions. So I think it should be called “American Religion Paradox” where in other industrialized world religious affiliation declines while degree of industrialization increases (or matures?)
2. Evaluating a Business Idea and Growing a Business by Ms. Amita Patel Greer
– I asked a question? How was Community Development Finance Institute (CDFI) affected during the World Financial Crisis in 2007 or 2008? Ms. Amita Patel Greer answered: Actually CDFIs were positively affected because commercial banks did not lend to their potential customers. It surprised me that commercial banks and CDFIs are substitute in this crisis time. So it is opportunity not threat for CDFIs. “Blessing in Disguise”. As former Nobel Laurite Al Gore has said Risk and Opportunity are coming in pairs by referring to a Chinese Character meant opportunity.
– Ms. Sokny also mentioned about her social business project to preserve Khmer food culture that may be lost if there is no preservation. American farmers would request supports from the Department of Agriculture to sustain their farming. In this regards, I think Sokny should go to the Ministry of Culture of Cambodia to check for supports.
3. Marketing Preparation – via slide presentation and youtube (warm-up session with a wonderful Brazilian lunch)
– QFD (Quality Function Deployment) Using the Kano Concept:
o when the measurement of the quality of products are possible, satisfaction/dissatisfaction is linear
o When the measurement of the quality of products are impossible: satisfaction/dissatisfaction is non-linear
§ Delight: small incremental increase in attribution brings significant increase in satisfaction
§ Expected: small decrease in attribution brings significant increase in dissatisfaction
I think this theory has implication for how people perceive of politicians and comedians. In reality, people tend to expect politicians to do good things but people tend to be delighted with what comedians do good things! So politicians may be jealous of comedians in this aspect.
4. An Introduction to U.S. Government by Prof. Christopher Muste
– In U.S. Government System, the Senate is more powerful than the House in two aspects: Appointment of judges of the Supreme Court and Treaties are subjected to be ratified by the Senate without any involvement of the House.
– I asked Prof. Christopher whether a congressman or a governor is more prestigious. He replied it was like comparing an orange and an apple (can’t be compared). I hope he also mean that self-selection is also important for a politician to choose to run as a congressman or as a governor (my small addition).
Last but not the least, I think we all feel that Deena and Kelsey have worked really hard to coordinate our program. So far I don’t have any gratitude words for both of them yet. Maybe we tend to “take too good things for granted”. Now we all say Big Thanks to Deena and Kelsey!!!

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