December 27th, 2010
For Mum. Merry Christmas! :-)
I have been in Cambodia long enough that life has begun to fall into a pattern. There are many variations, of course, every day there are new problems and challenges to solve around NFC, and different adventures to be had around Phenom Pehn. But my life has formed enough routine that I can write about it with some degree of truth.
My day usually starts at 6 or 6:30 with an hour of scrambling around my room and eating something cold out of the refrigerator. Elegant to the extreme I assure you ;-) Then I catch a motobike (I use the same smiley driver every morning) to take a half hour ride across the city to NFC. I start by assistant teaching elementary english, a class of about 10 students between the ages of 12 and 17. The teacher I help out is very good, and a nice guy all around. His name is Long Ang. We went to his wedding just last week! My older kids are a great bunch. They have an impressive vocabulary but using it is still difficult for them to use it. Long Ang recently took a break from NFC to plan the wedding and I got to plan the lessons and teach the class myself for a week. We started working on creative writing, and the kids came up with some really great stuff! I will post a story or two sometime later.
The other volunteers and I usually go for lunch between 12-2. We have several places we like to go around the orphanage, from a local noodle joint to a bakery to (yes I admit it) KFC. It's a nice break, though we usually spend the time discussing NFC and trying to resolve problems that have come up with the kids or the staff or funding.
After lunch I have two hours between lunch and my next class which I spend planning lessons or working on random projects or just taking a nap in the library. At four o’clock my second class rolls around. This one I teach on my own. The beginning English class used to have students ranging in age from 5-14, which made it simply impossible to teach in a way that benefited all the students. So we split up the class by age, I teach the 10-14 year olds and Niamh (Irish volunteer and friend) assistant teaches the younger ones with NFC’s rather incompetent English teacher. I love having a class of my own! I have five kids for around 40 minutes, which is really not enough time to get a lot done but I manage to cram in phonics work, creative writing, an active game and reading into the brief time I have. It is my favorite part of every day! The kids are great, work hard, and are eager to learn and do well. It is still a challenge, I have one boy with some fairly serious learning disabilities and one boy with a lot of behavioral problems, but it is one I love with all my heart.
By around 5:30 I am headed home on the back of motobike, following a sunset across the traffic-ridden city. I pass by a major temple, Wat Phenom, on my way home in time to see the resident elephant patiently being photographed by tourists and hear the chatter monkeys.
So this is my life! It is a beautiful thing. I am so grateful to be here every day.
I will add pictures when I have faster internet. It is incredibly slow right now!