Friday, March 18, 2011

Teaching and Learning

This week started out a bit rough. I had a few parent teacher conferences that didn't go as well as I had dreamed. I always imagined my first conferences as a teacher would be filled with glowing praise from parents who could barely contain their excitement that their children were doing so well in my class. Well... needless to say, reality was somewhat different.

In my student teaching placements I printed as much as I wanted, had access to whatever books I needed and had every manipulative and game a teacher could imagine; but this is Cambodia, and teaching here is an entirely different story. I have to be innovative and work with what I have. It's a challenge and I love it, but this week I let myself become frustrated.
I became discouraged that the only games my classroom has are ones I made from egg cartons and recycled cereal boxes. Instead of being thankful for all the amazing books I have, I thought about all the books that I would love for my students to have. After dwelling on everything that I didn't have, I felt despite the heart and soul I put into my job, it just wasn't enough.

So what would any girl do in such a situation? Why of course I wrote a tearful letter home to my mother. My first publicly shed tears in Cambodia, yes... I complained to my mom, a veteran teacher, that I had no clue what I was doing and that I felt I was failing my students. True to her nature, my mom wrote a very encouraging, "stop feeling sorry for yourself" letter. She told me that whenever I feel discouraged to look into the faces of my students, because they are the reasons I am teaching; of course, she was right. Just today I had a St. Patrick's Day lesson planned. We were going to cut out clovers and talk about the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The craft didn't even get started because the children were so interested in the trinity and asking questions about going to heaven. For the next 45 minutes, our mixed group of Buddhists, atheists, and Christians talked about Jesus' love and what it means in our lives. As I sat on my plastic chair looking at the precious faces before me, I was once again filled with the purpose of why I came to teach in this country in the first place. Fears over my own inadequacies fell away in light of the fact that God is setting eternity in the hearts of my students.

I hope that you too will be encouraged, as I am every day, by these joyful faces :)



Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Ream National Park

Today was Women's Day so we got a day off from work. We celebrated by going on a tour of Ream National Park. It was an amazing day spent with friends and I got to experience more of Cambodia. 

I started off the day's adventure by using the squatty potty. Gym's aren't necessary here, one stop at the toilet is all you need to build your leg muscles.

The boat that would take us along the river

Enjoying the Breeze
The homes were built before the land became a national park so the families are able to remain on the land. Most of the people work on the river catching fish, shrimp or clams.

Pulling up to a boat to buy some oysters for lunch

This is the guy in charge of diving for the oysters

Cutting and Cleaning

Our tasty lunch: fresh bbq fish, cabbage salad and bread

I can now say I've eaten raw oysters... and that they aren't my favorite...

There were a ton of jelly fish in the water. It's hard to tell  in the photo,but they were amazing shades of blue and green.

All in a Day's Rest

Friday, March 4, 2011

Letters from Home

Today started out like any other Saturday morning. I started cleaning up our room and making breakfast. The electricity went out and the gas stove wouldn't light. Eventually we got it lit and I was able to make my very first batch of french toast here. After breakfast, we were told we had mail at the office. I screamed and made a mad dash for my sandals as my roomate Camille did the same. We RAN full speed down the stairs like two kids on Christmas morning. After getting our letters, we ran back up the stairs to our room.  I just might have done a little happy dance when we arrived back in our room and the door was closed :) Because there they were, in my hands, two beautiful looking letters, no doubt full of news from home and everything familiar to me.
It seems I would have wanted to tear them open right away, but I just sat there on our couch, staring at them. I felt that by opening them too quickly, I might someone spoil the memory of getting my first mail in Cambodia.
After soaking up every second of anticipation, I finally opened my letters and was taken back home for the moments I spent reading them. I read about the snow that's plaguing everyone's driveways, Valentines' Day parties, growing babies, and that my friend recently purchased new guitar strings. The information included in the letters might not be pivotal for most; but to me it was, because it reminded me although I'm far away, I'm still connected, and not yet forgotten.

Camille was also excited to hear from home :)

The fact that my friends took time out of their busy lives to write a letter (which I might add in this day and age is quite a lost art...) to me on the other side of the world, really made my day.

So many of you are probably questioning my sanity at this point over the fact that I am so excited over receiving letters... but I'm documenting my rapturous joy for a reason.

You have the chance every day to encourage someone in your life. Maybe that means taking a friend out for coffee, sending someone a card instead of a text message, or taking the time to catch up with an old friend. It might seem like something really trivial, but to that person, it could mean the world....                                                       Just a thought :)