Sorry for the delay between posts!
To make a long story short I had a quality blog post that I had been working on about my first week at my host site during PST and I got locked out of my email and can’t access that post for the time being. It tells me that it can not verify that I am the owner of the account. The little things make you mad when your tired but I’m rolling with it and starting over obviously.
At this current moment I am sitting at the local school where our language classes take place. I typically come a little early just to have some time to myself. Everyone just needs a little built in me time and this is how I choose to take mine. Just to give you a little mental picture of the school we are using for language: it is a primary school. We use three of the classrooms and regular classes are in session during the time we are learning. Cambodian students actually go to school for 6 days a week and not five like the American school system. So there are little faces that pop in to our windows and listen to our lessons and shyly smile and wave at us or wait for us to say hi and wave before they do. I always wonder what they are thinking when they listen to the words we learn. We are at toddler stages in our language so they probably don’t think we are super intelligent but the people of Cambodia are incredibly kind and would never make you feel that way even if they think it. Cambodians are extremely appreciative of foreigners and love to stare at us, say hi to us and talk about us.
“How do you know they are talking about you, Lauren?”
I’m so glad you asked that…well anytime I hear “Ren” I know I’m the topic of conversation. They may be talking about something silly I did, or my lack of language skills or something else. The ‘La’ part of my name is very hard for people here so my family started calling me Ren for the most part. It’s a new name for me but I kind of like it. It is a unique thing I will always remember from my experiences in Cambodia. In my next post I’ll share with you about my host family and home so be patient please…I want to do that post justice because it’s deserved.
I’ve only been here for two weeks and two days now and I don’t feel I can appropriately write to you about the history, culture or even my family yet because I don’t quite know enough. I want to give you the most accurate picture I can while respecting the fact that I am an outsider and I will never truly understand most things here, but I will give you a glimpse of some. I’ll share what I know or learn with the caveat that my story or writing is not the end all be all of Cambodia. Each province is different and each person is different, this is no different then America in that sense.
Each of us volunteers have entirely different families and set ups. For example: my family is massive and there is another volunteer with only three people in their home. Some of us have western toilets and some of us have squatty pottys, some families farm for a living, some are vendors and some are teachers. Even though we are within five kilometers of each other and we have drastically different stories and experiences to share.
During PST the community health education volunteers (CHEs) do practicums to learn skills and force us to practice our Khmer with locals. When you only know two weeks worth of Khmer that is scary but remember how incredibly nice I said the people here are. So far we have taught a lesson in a high school class room using a PACA tool (which is Participatory Analysis Community Action), we have gone to the health center and asked the chief and staff questions, we have taken blood pressure readings and done 24 hour dietary recalls with patients at the health center and lead an exercise class with primary school children. All equally terrifying but all equally important to being a good volunteer. Peace Corps has a process and while I may not always understand it I’m seeing the benefits in my language.
P.S. for anyone who is wondering I still haven’t gotten sick yet (knock on wood) and hopefully that trend will continue!!
From the Eastern Hemisphere,