April 20, 2014
Wow. I don’t even know where to begin. These past nine months went by so quickly and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience, better memories, better friends, better anything in Cambodia.
What a great way to end my Fellowship by spending time with my students and teachers on our TGC school trip. We travelled to Koh Kong together, went trekking, and swam in several waterfalls. It was perfect. Although I have worked hard to be the best teacher for my students, my students have taught me so much. One thing that struck me the most on the trip was when we were sitting down and eating dinner together at a restaurant. Maybe surprising to some of you because I usually have a huge appetite, but sometimes, like everyone, I have a difficult time finishing what is on my plate. When I was little my grandma would say to me “Finish your food! There are starving children in developing countries.” However, on our school trip, my students told me, “Finish your food! You paid for that.” Hearing that from their perspective really stuck with me. My students have taught me to appreciate what I have as they do, because we have to work hard for it. It is a lesson that will resonate with me forever.
I am going to miss their appreciation for education at TGC and in Cambodia.
I am going to miss the flag ceremony every Friday after school and the pride for their country.
I am going to miss our vocabulary games in G3, and teaching Marot & Phiron and their goofiness as a team when one says something silly and the other gives him a smack in the head.
I am going to miss all the girls’ questions about adulthood and the never-ending questions about when I am going to meet a boy and get married, or the questions about songs and dances in the US.
And I will miss the bonding with my students and having the heart-to-hearts with them about their families, friends, and life outside of TGC.
I am going to miss reading and grading their inspiring writing about their interests and hobbies.
The endless jokes that they forgot their notebooks or workbooks when seconds later they will pull it out of their bags with a little smirk on their face.
Walking into school and hearing the abundance of “helloooooo(s), how are you?!?!?!?”
I have taught them English vocabulary, I have taught them to think for themselves, I have taught them how to dance, I have taught them how to put on a dance performance and fundraise for their school,I have taught them about mental health, but despite this, my students have been my biggest teachers.
Thank you, students, for teaching me.
Also, HUGE thank you to Tom McEvoy, Hal Fried, Michelle Pawlowski, and everyone else in the Minerva Office and Union College who made this Fellowship possible. Thank you for always believing in me, I couldn’t have done this without you!
Thank you to all of my wonderful friends that I have made here. You have all been so supportive and wonderful and you are all amazing people!
And, of course, thank you to my mom, dad, my brothers Noah and Josh, and my friends from home for always being there for me, despite the distance.
Siem Reap has become my home-away-from-home and I have cherished every moment that I have had here. I am fortunate that, although leaving my location, I can take my experiences with me to Union College in a few weeks and share every moment with the Union community. It is hard to imagine that on Monday night I will be saying my official good-byes and getting on the plane to return home. In a good-bye letter from a student, it wrote “think of me as your shadow, when you see your shadow, you will see me.” While learning ESL, their writing turns into the most poetic and sweet notes that I have ever seen. I will never forget their smiles, kind words, and biggest hugs.
With the long road of graduate school ahead of me, I am ready to embark on, yet another journey.
Siem Reap, my students, my friends, my fellow TGC teachers and staff and my memories will always be in heart.
Thank you students, and everyone who impacted my life within these last nine months!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Big love & hugs! See you next time.