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First 3 days in Cambodia

It’s not much to look at, but I love it! So do the girls 🙂

She’s one of my sweetest students. I don’t know her name and I can’t ask her because she can’t speak. She sat with me for over an hour 🙂

I was playing hide from the camera with my mute student..obviously she won.

It had just rained…literally like 10 minutes prior. Which is why it looks kind of dreary.

It’s still quite beautiful even after the rain. It smelled fresh outside.

What can I say? She wanted to be silly and I maintain that I’m eternally 6 years old.

So, I’ve already been in Cambodia for 3 days and I’m loving this country. I like how easy going the vibe of Cambodia is. Also, the people here are nice and everything is so cheap!! I’ve been noticing how Cambodia seems to be like other developing countries is the sense that, they’re all trying to become more urbanized while still hold on to their own culture and principles. And, it seems to be a thin line  in Cambodia’s case. But, as shallow as my experience has been thus far, I’m loving the country. I was surprised by how many people spoke decent English here. I was expecting fewer people to speak English, but I’m grateful for this fact because learning Khmer is HARRRD! And all the girls I teach laugh at my Khmer. Ah…o0h well. 🙂 At least they like me.

So, I’m living at the house of my Program Coordinator Theary, and she is such a doll! I’m so inspired by her. She started this volunteer organization in her country along with her brother and a few close friends, has a job, and is in her last year of her Business undergrad. Amazing huh? And her family is equally as sweet and awesome! Her brother Pana is my age and is an Engineering major. Her mom is the cutest old Asian woman ever who talks to me in Khmer and is fascinated my hair! haha. I DEFINITELY have the cutest 4 year old boy in Cambodia as my host nephew. haha He’s quite a handful, but is just a BUCKET of cuteness!! They also have 2 dogs who are also soo cute! Especially the little girl dog, she’s too precious. I live in their house with 6 other female volunteers: Emily, Singhui, Patrina, Cherrie, Sarah, and Stephanie my roommate. So far I’ve gotten along just lovely with them. They are quite a special group of girls. Emily and Steph are Australian, Sarah is German, and the last three are all from Singapore. Even though I’m not at the same placement as these girls, I love coming home to sit and eat dinner around the table and talk about the day with them and Pana.

The other volunteers are also quite a group. Haha Most of them are either Australian or Canadian. Fancy that, huh? I had never met and Australian in my life and then BOOM I’m surrounded by like 10 of them. I’m even starting to speak like them. Besides the 3 girls from Singapore, Americans are the second minority with there being only about 5 of us. I’ve made a few friends thus far: Dana, Steph, Kit, Thomas, Singhui, Cherrie, Charles, etc. and I’m glad I was around those who I felt I could bond with. And these volunteers have done some SERIOUS traveling.  Combined, they’ve been to every continent and I’d say, a VAST majority of the countries in the world. So, not only am I the youngest one here, I’m the newbie when it comes to traveling experience as well.  Darn…well, I’ll have to make up with motivation and drive 😉

The first 2 days of orientation were very helpful, in my opinion. We had: a language lesson, Cambodian history 101, City tour,  cultural do’s and don’t, and even a welcome back dinner where I got to meet current volunteers. I especially like the city tour we went on. We say famous parks, the Olympic Stadium, Russian Market, the Royal Palace, and other beautiful areas of Phnom Penh. We also went to a concentration camp that was used during the Khmer Rouge called S-21 and met a survivor. It was truly a life changing experience. He is SUCH an inspiration!

Yesterday, I got my placement and went to visit the NGO I would be volunteering with. The NGO I am volunteering with is called CCPCR ( The Cambodian Center for the Protection of Children’s Rights). It’s a NGO that specializes in combating domestic abuse and child abuse. And they have a girls orphanage where I will teach English at 4 days a week. When I first saw the orphanage, it made me sad. The orphanage is very run down and low on resources. There’s only one classroom and it doesn’t have the best supplies. So, I was determined when I got home to come up with the best and most helpful first lesson EVER. I even asked Pana’s help on some other Khmer words I thought would be helpful in the classroom. The following morning though, my stomach was in knots. I was terrified that the students wouldn’t understand what I was saying and that the lesson wouldn’t go well. Being on the  back of my moto driver didn’t help my nerves any bit at all. (you’d understand if you see how Cambodian drivers drive!) Plus, he got lost and I was terrified. But, I arrived fine and was warmly met by everyone here. 🙂

I had my beginner’s class first. They were better than I thought they’d be! And older too! haha I thought they were like 10-13 they’re 15-18!! haha Everyone looks so young here! haha My class seemed to like me a lot which really helped my nerves. Although, they laughed at my Khmer, which I knew was bound to happen. Then I had my Elementary class, which only had 2 people (Somnang and Choury), but they were quite good at English as well. After class, I had lunch in the cafeteria with some of the girls from my beginner’s class. They are the cutest ever! They are what I would call the “popular girls” haha. There’s Eneaung, SraiLay, Piusey, and Choury. All of which are over the age of 16. After lunch, Eneaung invited me to her room when she saw my bewildered face (I still had 4 hours before my next class). I  found out that they all stay in the same room with another girl named Theary (like  my host). I sat and chatted and felt like I had made a genuine connection with them. Theary looked at my freshly twisted hair and said it was beautiful and wanted me to braid her hair (mind you, her hair went to her butt!). Even though I was hesitant to do that because I’m not confident in my braiding skills, I did it anyway. And got immediate praises ALL AROUND!! People came to the girls’ room just to watch me braid Theary’s hair and marvel at it!  Eneaung kept telling every new person that came in that I was her “New Teacher! New Friend!” haha That made me beam from ear to ear. Pretty soon I had the longest line EVER of girls who wanted me to braid their hair. Unfortunately for them (and fortunately for me), they had to go to a group meeting. So, I was left alone with a girl, I’m not quite sure what her name is. And, I can’t ask her because…she’s mute. So, her and I are in the room alone. She’s having a blast on my nonworking Samsung Galaxy S 2 and I am on my laptop writing this! haha Hope you guys liked my first REAL post!

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