I was hoping they would ask, and they did — on the very first day of class. “Teacher, why do you come to Cambodia?”
I told them why I came. I told them I wanted to help them learn the English language and I wanted them to know they were loved, and because I know I’m loved, I can love them, and tell them that are loved too.
They smiled, and moved on to more pressing questions, inquiring about my age, my marital status, and whether or not I’d been to Angkor Wat.
It was a fleeting moment that most of them probably don’t remember. But maybe, just maybe, some of them do.
I’ve been living in Cambodia for about a month and a half now. I feel like I’m just starting to be able to do the things I could do without thinking before — things like grocery shopping, chatting with strangers, and getting around town. My life has been full of new traffic rules, new foods, new people, and a new language. It isn’t easy, crossing cultural boundaries.
My life feels a lot like a scene from “What About Bob?” Baby-step out the door. Baby-step get on my bicycle. Baby-step write a new curriculum from scratch. Baby-step start all over again.
Every day is an adventure here. Every mistake I make in Khmer reminds me how hard it is to learn a language and how much I want to help my students succeed. Every class is an opportunity for a conversation like that one on the first day of class.
The African proverb is true:
If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
I’m thankful that I’m not here alone. I have a team, and I have you, my friends and family back home. There has been joy in every hard day, and we truly believe that it’s because of your partnership with us.