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My first field-test

Today, for work, we traveled to Kompong Thom to test some of our ideas our on the local community. I was up at 4am to get ready for our 5am departure. It was my first trip outside of the capital city. Phnom Penh is pretty developed for Cambodia, so leaving the bubble was a real eye-opener. It was both heart-wrenching and beautiful.

The drive took about 3.5 hours. In some places, the dust from driving on dirt roads was so thick that the trees were covered with a layer of red soot. It was like looking at the world through a sepia lens. When the sun was rising, if you looked straight ahead, all you could see were driving silhouettes through a warm haze.

On the road, we passed a few trolley’s filled to the brim with young women on their way to work in the garment factories. We eventually ended up in a small village off a smaller dirt road where we met with a lovely group of Cambodians who seemed pretty happy to be a part of our focus group. Everyone gathered in a semi-circle on a sturdy mat made out of recycled canvas bags. Around us dogs were playing and chickens were running about.

We presented the group with 2 concepts. It was interesting to watch everyone react to the work. Only one person of in the group could read well, so over all they responded to the images. But even the way they interpreted the images and looked at the communication as a whole was much different than I was expecting. Some images I thought were universally recognizable proved not to be. Only one person in the group could read so the written messages were largely lost. The whole experience demonstrated how important it is to go the extra mile and really understand your target audience.

On the drive back we watched the sun set behind a Buddhist Temple on a mountain. It was really something. A year ago, I would have never imagined that I’d be looking at a naturally backlit temple on my way home from work.

We were in the car for 7 hours and only spent about 5 in the community itself, but it was well worth the drive.

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