Thursday, August 6, 2009


"How are you adjusting to being back in the States?" I ask.

"Pretty well," she replies with a smile.

I believe her. Polly is well-rounded, wise, and open. She takes things as they come and leaves the rest up to God. I met Polly in Cambodia. She was working at Logos Christian school as the kindergarten teacher. She graduated college and signed a two-year contract. She served a year, we both returned home, then she went back.

She went back.

She fulfilled her contract. She might've wanted to just do a year and come home, but she didn't. The second year was difficult too, but she made it. When I try to say, "Polly, you are a trooper. I can't believe you stayed two years and you did so much good." She usually replies with, "Yeah, but you were there one year. I'm not any better than you."

When I state facts or try to remind her how awesome she is, she doesn't discredit what I am saying because she has low self-esteem or wants me to keep going. She just has a good head on her shoulders and wonderful sense of self.

I was nervous about seeing her. Would we have anything to talk about? That is such a silly concern. We are girls. Girls talk, especially two girls who endured the hardest time of their lives together. Oh, we talked.

Jeremy and I met her at a Starbucks here in Rehobeth beach. It was so strange and surreal to see her nonetheless sit down and talk with her. We sat for about 3 hours just catching up on what just couldn't be updated over the phone.

She told me about the last year, how it was different, how it was the same, what she learned, how she changed. She showed me pictures of the school she fundraised for and delivered school kits to. She told me about her Khmer friends, the school, and being home. She found a large community of support there. She lived with 4 other girls who also taught at the school. She attended different Christian churches. She made friends there who live in the States.

Listening to her, I couldn't help but wish I had the same. Pastor Rich came to visit me the first week I was there and my parents came to Cambodia at Christmastime. These are the only three people in my life who crossed into both parts of my life. So Cambodia didn't feel real because it lacked all the people that made up my life at home, and it doesn't feel real now because no one can relate or know what I'm talking about.

"Do you remember the shop at the corner of Mao Se Tung and Norodom, past the tower?" Polly asks me.


"Ya know where we went to Cafe Fresco Easter Sunday with the girls?"

"Oh yeah, kinda."

"Well I went there with Srey Neck for a cooking class and learned how to make Loc Lak."

It felt like she was speaking another language. Because she was. It's not like I need to talk about mangosteen and Soriya market to survive. Reminiscing about people and places is not critical to my adjustment process, but without it, the re-entry process has been...abrupt. Because I went from one crazy place to another, without any crossover in between, it was refreshing and healing to talk to Polly yesterday.

Sitting with Polly over chai, pictures, and memories, was a type of closure I didn't know I needed. It was healing to listen to her, a life well-adjusted, and see that she is ready to move on and keep going. Cambodia has not left her bitter or stagnant. She's tired, she's weary, but she's going to be alright.

Now as she searches for a teaching job, the support she left behind, and new identity with all that she's learned, I am excited to see what comes next for her.

I'm proud of this girl.