Wednesday, June 25, 2008

6-24-08

I have 3 more days at Cambodia Adventist School and 6 more days in Cambodia. Right now the students are taking final exams, taking lots of pictures, and slowly saying their goodbyes. Right now they are the nicest they’ve been all year, which is fine by me.

While the fears of going home are always fresh in my mind, I’ve been trying instead to think about all the things I’m looking forward to. In fact, big surprise, I made a list.

First thing I’d like to do upon returning home is to roll in the grass. Then, I’d like to lie on some carpet. Neither of these were things I ever anticipated missing, that is, until I got here. Everything is dirt and tile. There isn’t much warm and cozy about Asian homes. They need to be functional and really, carpet just isn’t. Dirt just gets ground in there and it stinks if you have animals. But with tile, they just hose it down and it’s clean. So I understand the rationale, but I still really miss comfortable things like that.

Second thing I am really looking forward to is winter, a change in climate, cold weather, snow! More than just the cooler weather though, I am looking forward to the need for warm cuddly things like a big blanket, slippers, a cup of hot cocoa, or a bowl of soup. There is just no need for the warm and cuddly in Cambodia. I don’t even want to touch people, we are all so hot and sticky. When it is even mildly cold, my kids will come with jackets. They don’t really need them, but they never get to use them. So when the sun is behind a cloud, the jackets come out. I see girls wearing turtle neck sweaters. Why? Because they want to look like the models they’ve seen on TV. There is a stall at Toul Tom Poung market that sells really cheap Northface jackets. I wonder how they stay in business? I want to curl up in a blanket, with a book, and a cup of tea and just relax. Oh yes!

Ok, after I roll in the grass and then, put on my slippers, I’d really like to get some Mexican food! Taco Bell, Casa Bonita, 3 Margaritas, I’m not picky! Asia is getting more and more daring with branching out past rice, but Mexican just has not caught on. There is one Mexican restaurant I’ve been to. It was, ok. Still, when I try to explain to my students why Westerners look like giants compared to them, a few things come to mind. First, most Asians don’t have an oven, which eliminates cookies, muffins, cinnamon rolls, and most bread from their diet. I am not a carb-phobe, but they probably benefit from less sugary snacks in their diet. Another thing is that dairy products are non-existent in Asian food. Cream and cheese goes in Mexican, Italian, German, and other European foods. There must be something to all this, because these darn Asians are so tiny. The last thing is, there is very little fast food in Cambodia. That is obviously a factor to the Western world’s increasing waistbands. KFC recently staked claim on a busy street down town. I told my kids to avoid it at all costs! Yet, still, I love my Mexican food! And I just cannot live on rice alone! So I would be more than happy to journey down to Qdoba any time once I’m home.

I’m looking forward to safety, freedom, and justice. This all may sound so dramatic, but until you’ve lived without, you just won’t appreciate it. I hate, hate being outside here. I never feel safe. I don’t feel like I am protected by any one or any law. I miss the freedom of feeling protected and having rights as a human being, much less, a woman. And along with that, I miss the feeling of knowing that if something were to happen to me at the hands of another, they would be punished. Forget the correct ruling in a court case: life sentence or death penalty? Just knowing there is a penalty regardless of how much money I have in my bank account is just plain comforting. I will never again flippantly accept these as my rights as a human, because really, they are only rights because I am American. They are only rights because I live in a developed country with a democratic government and justice. Whatever you believe of America is fine. I know, we’ve got our problems. But they are few compared to the corruption that seeps into the most innocent of this country. I am grateful for that and still aware that the whole world does not live in America and doesn’t have to either.

I am very, very excited for the day when I can walk down the street and be completely ignored! I can’t wait for people to look right past me like I don’t even exist. I am tired of feeling like a freak show or an animal in a cage. I am tired of being treated that way.
Lastly, I am awaiting the moment when I am in a room, surrounded by people, and all of them are speaking a language I understand, can relate to, and can hold a conversation in. Here, I can be surrounded by 30 kids or a few dozen adults, and I always feel excluded. I am rarely a part of conversation or jokes. I am the one always saying, “Huh? What did he say?” It really stinks to hear a Khmer conversation that goes, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, Ms.Bo, blah, blah, blah!” It is even worse to hear my name among Khmer curse words. Those are the times I pretend I don’t know those words, smile, and walk away. I want to be able to use words with people. I want to feel understood. I want to understand.

Six more days of all of this, then I am home free. There are many more things I am anticipating, but these are the few that made the top 10.

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