Soksabay from Phnom Penh. I can’t believe December is ending soon! Where did the time go? Next month I leave beautiful Cambodia and it feels that there is still so much work to do here. I’m not sure why I am not inspired to write while living in Phnom Penh. So many experiences in such little time and I don’t want to forget about any of them yet I don’t feel the urgency to document them.

I still teach daily at the head office located in the heart of Phnom Penh. It’s the travel to the communities that I enjoy most. I’ve been teaching in two of the slum communities for CVCD twice a week. The two classes from 8:30-10:30 am go by quickly. I will travel with a staff member or teacher by moto to the classroom for about 30 minutes from the city. The kids look much younger than they really are because of malnutrition. The 14-year olds look like they are only eight. But they have the same laughter and enthusiasm as any child I know. Some kids will ask me to write down the word for them but I encourage them to watch me as I write the words on the white board. At the other end of that spectrum are some kids who refuse help. They really are independent and prefer to do the work on their own.

Yesterday, Mr. Pheak and I drove to a slum community by the railroad tracks near our head office, crossing the bridge on Russian Boulevard. The Khmer teacher who teaches there sat and became our student as we, Mr. Pheak and I, co-taught English for an hour. The classroom was not designed to fit the 30+ kids that attend. I watched as they brought in stools from their homes to sit in the back. Parents and young kids crowded each other in the doorway and window to watch. A man came in drunk and asked us for $2 but we asked him to leave and we locked the wooden door by lowering the tiny wooden latch. We asked some kids to come to the front of the classroom and they practiced simple conversation. How are you? What is your name? How old are you? For some kids this was a difficult exercise in pronunciation so it was good practice. As a game, I wrote the phrase on the board and called out words such as “name” and “what” to see who would be the first one to point the word out. Lots of volunteers for that exercise.

As we left the community, I saw a few of the same kids helping their parents selling used clothing or petrol in pepsi bottles on the side of the road.

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Sak sa bye from Phnom Penh.  Today is a public holiday (King’s Coronation Day) so I am enjoying my day-off at a coffee shop.  I am online catching up with email, news and updates. 

Yesterday Mr. Sarath, CVCD director, and I met with John, founder of MatesAbroad a great supporter and contributor of CVCD.

We traveled to five community schools built by CVCD to speak with the teachers to discuss student progress and also to get their ideas on how they could improve learning and living conditions for the community.   

None of the schools have electricity.  The teacher and students work by the natural sunlight that enters through the windows.  There are wooden chairs attached to wooden desks, white boards, posters, and a small library in the back of each classroom.  We visited one classroom equipped with electricity since it’s the computer learning class but the power was down while we were there.  Mr. Sarath mentioned that they are working on a generator for that class.

Electricity is expensive in Phnom Penh.  At the home where I live, the electricity has been turned off occasionally after 8 pm.  This lasts anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes.  Thank goodness for my book light, not to mention my books!

Normally, Miss Thida, the CVCD receptionist will pick me up on her moto.  My duties at the CVCD organization include practicing English conversation with staff, updating computer tutorials (thanks Mr. Westfall), and working with Mr. Sarath in accounting work.  On Monday I sat with project managers, Mr. Sama and Mr. Kosal, and showed them how to create an online journal on WordPress.  I’ll give you an update when we finish with that.

It’s almost noon.  Soon, I’ll be walking to a friend’s home for lunch.  I used to pay $1 for a moto ride but find that it’s actually close enough to walk.  From the café it will take me about 15 minutes to reach my friend’s home.  One thing I will never take for granted is sidewalks.  It’s difficult to walk here alongside all the motos and vehicles but I manage.  Pedestrians don’t have the right of way here. 

Hope all is well!

kids

Missing from this photo: B, H, A

This time every year I’m usually preparing for my religious ed class which runs from October through May. Sadly, I won’t be teaching this year since I’m taking a break to work at a school in Cambodia.

I wanted to share a letter I received from one of my students:

Thank you for teaching me.  I really loved all the times in your class from prayer until the end of class.  You put a whole new meaning to my faith.  Really, you did.  No homework, a few worksheets and videos and all talk (very good talk).  I really like prayer and going to God and spending time with him.  I will miss you along with everyone else.  I cherished the times of being in your class, you know?  Just to be close to Jesus, to have religion, just something to hold on in tough times, I look to God.  On some Tuesdays my Dad and me would come to the chapel.  Its atmosphere really calms me.  Being in class has brought me even closer to God.  Whenever I felt bad, I’d go to class and feel better.  I won’t miss waking up early but I’ll miss something to look forward to on the weekend.  These past four years of being with you, it’s hard to forget all the times in we had.  All of us would be very sad that you’re not teaching next year.  I will remember Christmas and the times at your house.  You were really fun.  I hope you will be safe wherever you go.  God bless you.  With love.

For my students, even though we won’t see each other you’re still in my thoughts and in my heart.  I wish you luck on your first year of high school this fall.  God bless all of you!  P.S.  I hope you continue with religious ed classes so you can tell me all about it next year 🙂