Week of gratitude

Such a long week. I don’t know where to start off.

New week, new class, but same students. The Education Board asked me to teach the newly structured conversation module to my old students. It was so exciting! The fact that I will be spending most of the time with those talented young people makes me even more eager to do it. All of them confirmed to continue studying at SOLS, which means they will still have about one more month before they completely leave this school.

This week’s unlocked achievement: trying phoutreey, a local fruit that kind of looks like tiny apples and has a very sour and, umm… interesting taste. The texture was quite solid and if you’re lucky, you’ll find a bunch of maggots squirming inside the fruit, probably wondering if you are stupid (and blind) enough not to notice them. All the Khmer teachers in part-time centre seemed to be enjoying dipping the fruits into salt and sugar. You might not like it but phoutreeys are pretty common in Cambodia, even I saw the dried ones sold at Pandamart.

November is supposed to be the month where all the guys show up clean-shaven and baby-faced on the 1st of November and look like Hollywood-film villains or grizzly bears by Thanksgiving. But not for Alele, one of the East Timorese exchange students. Inspired by Abdoulaye’s shiny smooth bald head, he decided to shave his head up. Weird.

Wednesday and Thursday– Busy, busy, and busy! Never been this busy before. Charlee (English, partner in crime) and I are working on the websites and everyone knows website is such a huge project. Here’s a picture of her grumbling and twisting her hair. She’s been working really hard.

In the evenings, my Cambodian friend invited me to have dinner at a minibar in Phsar Prekeng. He apparently noticed that most of us are getting tired of the school food. I went there together with Charlee, Alele and Abdoulaye. It ended with my wallet getting stolen. Stupid Deny!

Friday– Monthly meeting, which means all volunteers based in the provinces gather at SOLS Headquarter for a couple of days. It also means sharing a room with other volunteers because there aren’t enough rooms. I shared mine with Josh from England, who is based in Kampot and unsurprisingly, Abdoulaye. He needed to move out of his room because it would be where Flanna and Stacia bunk for the next 3 days. Glad to meet both of them again!

Saturday– GLOBAL VILLAGE! All international volunteers had the chance to showcase the countries where they come from to the students so they could understand more about the different countries that were on display. Country represented: England, France, Spain, Senegal, Denmark, The Netherlands, Macau, China, Japan, Austria, USA, Canada, East Timor, South America and of course Indonesia!

I made several brochures showing Indonesian map, pics of Indonesian cities and where they are located, and more. In addition, I played all Wonderful Indonesia videos that I borrowed from the Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Indonesia and it worked! So many people came and asked questions until I couldn’t help but to close the booth for awhile. CRAZY! Well, I really wanted to do Germany as well, but it wasn’t possible. Oh, I saw the Dutch giving away treats at their booth.

Sunday– We called it Exception Day. My amigo español, Dr Fernando invited me and Flanna to have brunch at a coffee shop next to Prekeng Pagoda. We had a really nice sandwich & baguettes and guess what… iced coffee! Due to my chronic GERD thing, my doctor told me to quit coffee and I completely stopped coffee for almost 4 months. The doctor who said that was Dr Fernando and I had 2 glasses of iced coffee in front of him. Well, it was exception day.

A little story about him. Three months ago he had a terrible motorbike accident when he was riding down the national road with another middle-aged volunteer from Italy. The guy died but he survived. Now he has a post-accident problem that requires him to have a major surgery. No hospitals in Cambodia can do the operation so next week he will be leaving for Indonesia and having the surgery in Bandung. Also, he isn’t allowed to smoke cigarettes but he smoked anyway and again, using exception day as an excuse. Then I met with the Mormon elders! Haha they were playing the piano at the church. They asked me to play but I wasn’t in shape. So many meetings that day, and too many things to be done. I’m so glad I went to see them because I could finally escape from SOLS super exhausting activities and get to talk with positive young people.

My work is extremely tiring but I’m so happy to do that. I feel exhausted sometimes but nothing is nobler, kinder, and more better than helping other people, who are less fortunate than us make their dreams come true. And most importantly, be grateful for everything you’ve been given. A grateful heart is a beginning of greatness. It is an expression of humility and a foundation for the development of such virtues as prayer, faith, courage, contentment, happiness, love, and well-being.

Millions of love.

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