I have a greater appreciation for women here. Even when I do not speak Khmer, it can be easy to connect with the Cambodian women. I have found there is often strength but openness with them. For example, there are the old women who sit in the alley where I live, chatting and tending to their baby grandchildren all day long. They are kind, loving and always laughing with their families. Even though I do not speak Khmer and the women do not speak English, I feel like we have an understanding. I smile big at the woman who lives next door to me when I pass, and she always gives an equally large, thoughtful smile back. I trust that she is providing me some sort of protection here. There is no way someone would break into my home, a sort of common occurrence, or harm us with this kindhearted and strong woman next door. It would not happen. I am grateful for her protection.
On my daily ride to work:
I ride on my bike by Independence Monument, arguably one of the most beautiful places in the city, everyday on my fifteen minute commute to work. I wind through the streets of the BKK 1 district where I see coffee vendors selling from their brightly decorated carts. I see hard working women doing construction; they’ve inevitably been up for hours before me. I wind through traffic literally dodging cars, tuk tuks and motos all closely approaching. On the block of my school, I pass a welding site where I am careful not to get too close. The sparks from the craftsmen fly into the street, and I tend to avoid flying fire as a general rule. All the men are dressed in flip flops and will be finishing up their shift by the time I take lunch. I buy mangoes today, seven for $2, from the man by the welding site selling them from a wicker basket atop his motorbike. He always keeps them beautifully displaced and thoughtfully stacked upon each other.
I have come to realize happy times in Cambodia should be celebrated. I get bogged down in the frustrations sometimes. It is nice to look up and take the nice things in.
I had school today. I am definitely in the swing of things at school now. I have been in my job for three months now and have learned to some extent how most of my students learn best and how my relationship with the administration functions.
For the most part, our administration is pretty hands off, so I have a lot of freedom in what I can cover in my class. We have books for all subjects, but I can pick and choose supplementary activities.
My kids are learning proper compound sentences now. I am trying to encourage them and push them with their writing. Even though I am intended to teach them everything, writing, reading comprehension and textual analysis are my favorite things to do with my students. They are making progress, and it is fun to see.
My students are definitely challenging at times but with most students we have an understanding of classroom expectations. I expect them to give their best effort in class every day. I have been challenging them a lot the last week or so, so I made a point to acknowledge their progress. I think adding more praise, in a genuine and non-patronizing way will be helpful. I have frustrations for sure, but it is helpful to step back and think even if the day was rough at least one of my kids learned something new. I am okay with that ending to a day.