Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I can't begin to explain

how we disassemble the parts and frame

baby it's the same late morning
the same no show
it's the same fucking habits
i guess we don't know

<3 <3 <3 Naked and Famous - All of this.

I think sometimes people come into your life to steer you in the right direction; to set a path for you to follow. On the slow boat boarding crossing from Thailand to Laos I met a lovely lass who told me all about NFO and told me I had to come. I'd considered volunteering, it was something I really wanted to do in Asia, but I was running out of time before I had to be home for university. It was my chats with her that solidified the idea of taking another gap year and doing something I have always wanted to do.

I can't even begin to explain how amazing NFO is. My days here are so simple, but so fulfilling. We try to wake up early and go visit the Monks to chat with them. They practice their English and you can ask them anything you want to know. It turns out they are quite the flirts! Most of them are pretty open about the fact they are only monks so they can get cheap/free education.

Most days we head down to the local market which is the first really authentic market I've come across in Asia. No one speaks English. You have to haggle prices by holding up fingers. They have the most amazing deep fried bananas - they are actually to die for. This market is huge, you can get everything from laundry powder to nail polish and all kinds of fruits. I've tried a lot of new fruit since being here - a favourite is dragon fruit; it's pink on the outside and black and white on the inside. Yum. I also ate something that resembled a baby coconut which was a bit too weird for my liking. Oh and jackfruit! It's a giant fruit that tastes like candy. It actually tastes like candy; it is insane.

A few minutes from the market is this store called Cool Mart - it is a pretty standard petrol station store, but it is the only place we've found in Takeo that stocks yoghurt, so usually we go in and buy their entire batch of plain dutch yoghurt. After about 10:30am it gets difficult to walk around in the heat, so we'll usually drop by the house before heading up for the 12:00pm class. Natalie and Jess, two girls I met on the overnight bus from Laos to Vietnam are actually teachers back home in England. They've been assigned two classes while they're here and I've taken the liberty of being their teacher's aid.

Hidden in the arts supply room were heaps of resources that the girls are making the most of using, including giving the kids their own personal mini whiteboards! We're quite early on in their lessons and at the moment just trying to gauge the level of the kids. It's really different being inside a Cambodian class room. The kids want to be there. In fact we're constantly having to turn away kids who are not allocated in the class. They raise their hand (most of the time) and stand to give the answers. The difference in the past two days is already noticeable. We're really focusing on giving the kids a lot of positive reinforcement, because you can tell that some of them have not really had many positive things in their lives prior.

After the first class I generally hang about with the kids a little bit before we head back to the house to hide from the sun. The heat is so intense here, by 1pm I'm really exhausted, even though I've not done that much with my day. The girls found the most amazing ice coffee place that sells them for only 1000 reil which is about 25 cents. They're pretty much a glass filled with ice and half of condensed milk and the other half of coffee. I know it sounds gross, and it's not something I'd think to do at home, but it's amazing (at least by asian standards!). We usually just chill on the balcony for a few hours hiding from the bugs and the sun.

At about 3pm we start heading back for the second class of the day. This is the class who is struggling a bit more with English and having a 3:45pm class does not help with their progress. Today we had to go back to basics, right back to the alphabet. There's a little lad named Tee, he's only been at the orphanage 6 months and he's tiny. He's the type of boy who only does things when he wants to and he'll outright ignore you when you try to speak to him. He might approach you if he wants to, but it's unlikely. Today during class he chose to sat right next to me and leaned against me during the lessons. He was doing really well naming the alphabet when Jess was pointing to the letters so I encouraged him to answer one of her questions. He put his hand up, waited patiently, when selected stood upright and exclaimed the correct answers. It was such a cool thing to see. Natalie treated him to a sticker and he placed it on my forehead. From that moment on, we were best buds. When he was later awarded another sticker and he chose to stick it on his forehead, we were twins.

We had to go collect six stones for alphabet bingo outside. I asked him if he wanted me to help and he nodded at me. So we rushed outside together and hunted for stones. Through alphabet bingo he'd prod me on the arm and ask whether he had the letter being called out. I encouraged him to hunt for it but helped him when I could see he was getting bored. He did very well. It was such a huge improvement for the little lad who didn't even want to make eye contact. I can't wait to see how things are tomorrow. All three of us had little knots in our tummy watching him come out of his shell. It was really special and I think it's been a little tap on the shoulder to let me know, yes I could be a good teacher, and yes I'd find it really genuinely rewarding. Cool feeling :-)

After class we usually drag ourselves home and once again nest ourselves into the chairs on the deck. In the afternoon NFO becomes really social when everyone heads back in. We've got about 15 people here at the moment which means there's always someone to chat to :-) A group of 11 or so of us are planning a trip away to the beaches this weekend - I can't wait!

Life is good. I'm in my element! This is something I've wanted to do forever, and I'm doing it. I am loving it :)

It's amazing how badass your life can be when you stop making excuses and do what you want to do. So simple. Wish I'd figured it out sooner.

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