Do I Have To Leave?

I’m sitting in my empty room in Kandal province flipping through my bullet journal. It’s move out day. Two months have come and gone and my time with my family has come to an end. I have a few hours until the van comes to get me so I’ve been reading my first journal entries and small blurbs about each day. It’s funny and motivating to read back on how difficult it was at first because the extent of my language was saying my name and saying when I was full. When I started this bullet journal this is what I intended. I intended to be able to look back and see my progress and feel proud of myself or inspire some personal reflection. This is a momento that will help me track how my Peace Corps journey plays out. But what I didn’t realize was that it was going to also track my relationship with my family and I can see how the bond formed and the love grew within my entries and it warms my heart.

Yesterday we had a party celebrating our host parents and thanking our community. When I returned home after the party my siblings surprised me with a cake that they bought for me. It had the date, my name and a big heart. When they came around the corner and I saw their big smiles holding the cake I instantly welled up with tears. It was such a kind gesture and it really just sunk in that I was leaving these beautiful people that loved me like their own child, granddaughter and sister.

I feel it is now a more appropriate time to tell you a bit about my family. I want to be considerate of the fact that their lives are theirs and I will not tell you their names, ages and any defining information because that is not my information to put on a public platform. I did get permission from them to post photos so you will get to see their bright shining faces.

For the past two months I have lived in this house.

In this room.

And I have lived with these people.

I have a beautiful mother and spunky, fun-loving father.

I have a whole lot of sisters. Six that are older than me and two that are younger.

I have two older brothers. I have a grandmother and I have three nieces. 
In this time I have gotten to know a bit about each of them. Five of my sisters work in a garment factory. One of my brothers is a farmer. Two of my sisters help in the family coytiev stand (breakfast place). And my mom and dad run the coytiev stand.
One of my sisters taught me how to cook three Khmer dishes. She kept saying I need to learn how to cook for myself because she is scared my new family won’t cook for me. 

One of my sisters is very close in age to me and is studying cosmetology. Since week one she has always lovingly pinched my cheek or put her finger in my dimple as she walked by and giggled. 
One of my brothers and his wife live in the home and she is about 6 months pregnant now. When I come back there will be another baby around and I can’t wait to meet the little nugget.

We currently have one beautiful, happy 10 month old waddling around because she is learning to walk. She is a funny little girl that loves to imitate people. When her family says “Bebe” she blows kisses, when they say the word for angry she makes an angry face and shakes and our new favorite is when I taught her how to stick her tongue out. This little girl is spunky and is going to have a heart of gold.

The relationships I have with my family have taken time and patience on both sides. When I first arrived I couldn’t understand my parents to save my life so I gravitated towards my sisters that I could kind of understand. In the last four or more weeks I have been able to understand my parents and converse with them and they have really come to view me as their child. My mom told me last week that I am her adopted daughter. It’s amazing to me that a family can take in a foreigner, care so much for them and treat them as their own. I feel incredibly lucky to have had this time with these people that I will call family for the rest of my life. As I move on to a new family I will take the lessons I have learned from this family and I will stay in touch with them because although it was only two months, they basically raised me and that’s a bond you can’t lose.


From the Eastern Hemisphere,

❤ Ren


5 thoughts on “Do I Have To Leave?

  1. Lauren, good luck on your next location/adventure. Your new family is so lucky to have you join their family.
    Very proud of you!


  2. Hi Lauren,

    Love following your blog and Peace Corps adventures! You make me feel like I am right there with you as you describe daily life! You are a wonderful writer and I look forward to hearing more about your next stop! The family is very lucky to have you:)

    Denise Cochran


  3. What a wonderful host family experience you seem to have had. And I like how the colors of your pixels have changed 🙂 Good luck with the next steps!


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