6th International Conference on Drugs & Young People. Australia

“Given it’s currently National Youth Week, we are pleased to have the United Nations recognise this conference as supporting their International Year of Youth activities,” said CEO Australian Drug Foundation, John Rogerson.

I am very proud to be invited to speak at the ‘6th International Conference on Drugs & Young People: Making Connections’ being held in the Melbourne Convention Centre, May 2-4th 2011.

It is exciting and slightly terrifying to be speaking on such a grand stage to an enormous auditorium of people. I will speak on my experience of drug and alcohol and mental health working in Melbourne and my experience of drug and alcohol, mental health and the creative arts where I work in Phnom Penh Cambodia and am still currently based.

6DYP Day 1 teaser.

 

Tedx Phnom Penh

In Febraury 2011, Cambodia held its first ever Tedx in Phnom Penh.

As Manager of Tiny Toones I was asked to present. Of course I wanted founder ‘KK’ to do it with me even though I knew I would get a certain “no.” KK is a humble and shy man. I did however manage to convince him to be recorded on video which we shot on my balcony over endless laughs (the offcuts could make a video on its own!).

Those that know me know I would never go anywhere without ‘my kids’ – the beloved staff and students of this hip hop centre. When asked to perform, my first question was “can I bring my kids up on stage?” which was initially met with silence. After explaining who they were and no they are not little children but teens and older… I was given permission.

Below is the Tedx presentation we did. The performance by ‘my kids’ was choreographed by them under the guidance of KK.

… and yes I did write a story about the lead up to Tedx: the fear, anxiety, excitement and the ultimate performance. Sections can be read in imprint 14: ‘A Perfect Statue’ or for those who can’t be bothered reading, you can watch it on video here in the blog from when I performed the written story at open-mic in Thailand.

We called it ‘Dance Your Life Around.’

 

Kha’s unbelievable solo.

Kha and Slick’s ‘dance fight’

The team

And I couldn’t have done it without Shhort…

 

Tedx rehearsal… on my birthday

Me rehearsing on my 36th birthday at ‘sound check’.

Notice the notes in my hand? Yep, I was told off. No notes allowed! With 7 days until the real performance I assured them … no problem (with  a lump in my throat and sweaty palms).

The kids rehearsed… and dutifully bowed….

AND THEN…. they suprised me with a birthday cake! My whole gang and the organisors came out of the kithen with cake for me. 

which we all shared before going outside to play …

 

Interview by a Cambodian Princess

My interview was at the end of my working day. I hadn’t thought much of it.

At about 4pm I asked my kids in the centre to look at the radio interview request email so they could explain to me where exactly the station was. Four of them read the email and then looked me up and down and laughed.

“You can’t go dressed like that”

“Why not? It is radio, no one can see me”

“Don’t you know who Soma Norodom is?”

“Ummm, the lady who is interviewing me?”

“Think about it. What’s the name of the main road here, the really big one”

“Norodom”

Oh shit! She is Princess Soma Norodom.

Panic as I start running around the centre knowing I don’t have time to go home and change. I wash my face and take a clean ‘Tiny Toones’ work t-shirt. It’s the best I can do. I wasn’t nervous before. Now I am terrified. The segment is ‘Emerging Female Leaders in Cambodia. The Princess wants to interview me?

An hour passes of banter back and forth between Soma and I (yes we are on first name basis now) and we totally forget we are live until question time and people call in – and they did. We had an absolute blast. We discussed everything from ex-pat life in Cambodia, learning Khmer language, working with street kids, children’s rights and my upcoming TEDx talk. She is my age and one very cool and very smart lady. She is also nicknamed ‘The Rebel Princess.’

 

Later the same year I was asked to interview Soma for WuPP (What’s up Phnom Penh) magazine. She still tells people it was her favourite interview.