Dec. 2008

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Rit Rie Chinam Tamai (Happy New Year),

Hope your Christmas was festive and packed full of friends and food. Speaking of food, I think I now need to consider suspenders since I wasn’t be able to pass a platter of holiday treats without having one or twelve. What to do?

December was a pretty even split between Cambodia and California. The first part of the month was all about English, and… well…. dancing. First, I’ve been enjoying a new advanced level writing and speaking class; where the students are also developing their skills as presenters and translators. After writing up a short essay on a particular topic, the students head up to the front of the class in pairs. One student delivers his or her essay in English while the other translates it into Khmer. It’s tough working through both the translation and the stage fright, but the students love it and the encouragement and laughter are pretty evenly balanced. It’s a lot of fun!

On the 15th our classroom took on a new look; the disco ball came out, or at least the Christmas lights switched on, decorations set up, and the punch bowl filled to the rim as we celebrated Christmas. We started with snacks and a couple games; then tables were slid to the side, our Christmas tree slid to the center, the tunes were turned up and the dancing took off. Now you may ask why the tree went to the center of the room, and I would say “I have no idea”, but if you want dancing to happen in Cambodia there needs to be something to dance around whether it’s a little pot of flowers or a fully decked out Christmas tree. Two hours of toe tapping, heel kicking, hip shaking later we called it a night. Good thing I had a little exercise before heading to California and all those Christmas cookies.

Home sweet home! I flew into San Francisco and had three fun filled weeks with family and friends that I hadn’t seen in over a year. It was great, especially because the first night started with a huge bacon, blue-cheese burger at the home of a best friend. That was followed with two restful weeks with family and roughly two thousand cookies, cakes and puddings. Oh boy! Then their was New Years and a week in San Francisco with friends – very busy, but very, very fun. A friend asked if I had any culture shock and I realized it wasn’t culture shock that I was feeling. I love different cultures; exploring them, and acclimating to them. But, I had more of an emotional shock, just recognizing how much I could be so attached or connected to two place that have some very different landscapes and ways of doing things. Both places have their beauty and systems, but again it’s the people that really make the place. The challenge is just when those two groups of people are separated by the Pacific. Nothing profound here; just a realization of how fortunate I am. I could not be here without the love and support of everyone back home. Thank you!

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

Christmas also gave me a great opportunity to check out the designs and patterns for the very cool bags and organizers that our teachers (mom and dad) will train the kids to create and produce. We are just around the corner from our next vocational training venture. Through the production of these crafts the kids will have a safe and effective way to develop a personal education fund as well as build their confidence. It will bring each young designer the joy of knowing that the sale of every item they create carries them a step closer to an advanced education.

You can donate on-line at this address:

(you’ll see my picture and EVT Program.)

-or- by mailing a check to the office (please write EVT Program in the Memo section)

Kris Warner/EVT Program

c/o Warm Blankets Orphan Care

5105 Tollview Drive, Suite 155

Rolling Meadows, IL 60008

Kids’ Library:

I’m both afraid and excited to slide open the school doors! While I was gone for the holidays, four palettes or about 3500 new books were delivered for our kids. Can you believe it?! This is truly amazing! So, as I may have mentioned, the plan is to put together sets of 100 books in a range of levels and start getting them out to our Homes in the provinces. With this, kids in the countryside who may have only had a random magazine other than their few school books will know have pages and pages of bright story-filled reading material. And, their English teacher will have a variety of ways to supplement or expand their lessons. Okay, now here’s the kicker, there are another 3000 plus books in Chicago coming from several very thoughtful school districts. Hooo… Wooo….. I guess is the only way to put it.

Things learned:

  1. The bright new yellow lines painted down the middle of each road in Phnom Penh do not seem to divide the road into two lanes as much as they are now something for each driver to center their car over. – upping the ante in the daily games of chicken.

  2. Where we might reach for an electric blanket on a cold night, the gecko that lives on my chest of draws likes to stick himself to the serge-protector for a bit of extra heat or that cozy feeling on those chilly nights. Smart!

  3. If you tell a highway patrol officer that you work with kids in Cambodia they don’t write you up for speeding. I wasn’t fishing for anything….. she asked.

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