Apr. 2008

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Arun Sua s’dei,


All right, so in April we rang in and wrapped up our third New Year celebration – any excuse for a party or holiday is a good one I suppose. And, when you can renew Resolutions every six weeks or so it really helps. In January we gave a toast to the 1st, in February we said cheers to Chinese New Year, and in April the hoopla was in full swing for Khmer (Cambodian) New Year. Phnom Penh was a one-ox or one-Lexus town for about a week as everyone scattered to the provinces for the annual visit with the relatives. At the Center, you could barely hear a flip-flop drop as well. Those with any extended family were on the road and those without rode along for the adventure and festivities.

With the short break, I exchanged the whiteboard for some white sand. Emily, Tabea and I headed to the coast at Sihanoukville and found some sandy beaches, palm trees, and every kind of grilled seafood (top price: $3-4 a plate). From Ochheuteal beach we took a small ‘put-put’ fishing boat to Koh Roussi (Bamboo Island) for a couple nights. This is a real Robinson Crusoe type place with only a few thatched huts to stay in and no electricity except from a generator that provides it for a few hours in the evening – only downside were the millipedes, but even with so many legs they don’t move too fast. The few days at the beach were a great way to reenergize and put some of my Khmer to use, which is eeking along, but it’s eeking anyway.

April also had a quick trip to a true country wedding down in Kampot about a three-hour drive from Phnom Penh. Well…, that is if your fuel filter doesn’t start acting up. We called a taxi and got a rope tow for the last 20 miles. Gotta keep things interesting.

Back at school, I’m so excited because my students from the Center have started to bring more and more of their friends to the classes, and even those friends are bringing others. I love their outreach and the opportunity it provides for the kids from outside to see the kids’ world inside our Home. They get a glimpse into where and when they eat, study, worship, and just play. And in the classroom, they are part of the support and encouragement our kids give to one another in helping to understand this crazy English language. It is awesome to see and makes teaching so much fun.

What’s up with the EVT (English and Vocational Training) program:

I starting preparations for Jessica’s arrival and have 8 people lined up to the jewelry design classes that we will hold in a couple weeks. They are excited and asking to see pictures of the different designs Jessica has been creating.

The last week of May, I’ll be doing a road trip through the provinces to visit our Cambodian ESL instructors who are teaching the kids in our homes. I had a great meeting with a few of them during the conference in February, and am continually impressed by their diligence and desire to teach. Many of them are orphans themselves such a Ryna, Lida, Narith, and Veasna who grew up in their individual homes and just have a passion to give or share what they know with the younger kids. Everytime I meet them, I’m floored by their level of English considering many live in such remote areas and have virtually no opportunity to meet and practice their English with a native speaker.

Kids’ Library:

What can I say. I found out a couple days back that we have some 15+ boxes of books in our Warm Blankets office in Chicago. You are awesome! These books will be on the way here soon truly packing out our shelves, and creating a library. THANK YOU!

Please keep the books flowing as I would love to start stocking the shelves of our homes in the provinces. Remember the joy your kids or your niece and nephew had reading (or gnawing on) the books they received. It always amazes me how a child, who can be running around one minute, will settle down and be mesmerized a second later by book placed in their hands. The kids here love each book even when they in an unfamiliar language. And for those kids beginning to read, each book really does unlock a door to a whole new world – to imagine new places and love their own village. Thank you again for growing their dreams.

Things learned:

Now many of you may know this, but I found out that if your cornflakes are attacked by an army of ants don’t just throw them out. Pour them, ants and all, into a Tupperware container and put them in the refrigerator. The ants of course slow down but as they do, they make a last effort to escape and move to the side of the Tupperware. So, the next morning all you do is take you cornflakes out of the fridge, open the Tupperware, shuffle the flakes to one side and run your finger along inside edge. Do this for all four sides and you cornflakes are 90% ant-free. The other 10% are just protein, right!

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