The above description is the ingredients listed on the package of instant coffee I typically consume each morning. Now, if you know me, you know that as a matter of principle I drink coffee strictly recreationally and not according to any sort of dependency or addiction. But when I do drink coffee, I want Coffee: strong and dark, no sugar or cream, thank you…but I’m an absolute sucker for Phearun’s flawless hospitality. So I’ve been drinking instant coffee…rather, instant sugar with cream and coffee, every morning that Phearun offers it to me. This guy is “so great” (A handful of you reading have heard the characteristic way Phearun says, “so great.”) Today, I walked into the canteen, and he said, “Ann Marie. What a woman, Ann Marie.” I about died laughing; I think that’s the best ‘good morning’ I’ve heard yet in Cambodia.
Good news, everyone!
This week, my beginning writing classes will begin! It’s been something of a challenge to organize, but I’m quite happy that these classes will finally get rolling. Alright, not being used to using any teacher lingo, I’m going to do my best to describe my new classes properly: I’m already teaching two sections of a rather advanced writing skills class for the older students whose English is very strong, and who are practicing academic writing in particular. The interest in these classes has really grown, however, and I had new students coming in every day, pretty much at random. So! I’m beginning two new sections of a grammar-intensive writing skills class for students who need to hone a few skills before entering a class like the intro to academic writing class. For the students whose schedules don’t allow them to join either class, I am meeting weekly with those smaller groups and arranging at least one other time during the week when I can meet them up individually. Fun, right? Yes, fun is right. Morally right. Right? Of course right. Perhaps obviously, these new classes are likely to change quite a bit as I assess the abilities of the students; fortunately, the class sizes are pretty small so it should be easy to transmute a lot of that individual attention I so love to give.
This seems like a good opportunity to clear up what precisely I’m up to over here – over here being in a village nearby Phnom Penh – and what I’m not up to. So, I’m working as a volunteer at the Future Light Orphanage of Worldmate (alias FLOW). I think it’s alright for me to say that as long as I also say that the views and opinions reflected upon in this blag in no way represent the views and opinions of FLOW. (Incidentally, http://xkcd.com/148/) (Hi, Joe Grange!) (Also, hi Ryan O’Neill!) Alright, I think I’ve explained sufficiently about the classes I’m teaching….Oh, it’s completely worth mentioning that the kids here are incredible students. They are all smart, motivated, and respectful – in short, probably about the best group of kids with whom I could have an initial teaching experience.
Just to be clear, don’t be too nice to me, everybody: I’m not actually running any marathons. Mika, this very nice and awesome Hawaiian (actually, Samoan) fellow ran a marathon around and about Phnom Penh in support of Cambodian orphans in particular, and orphans the world over in general. He did the whole marathon-sized marathon; I (and a handful of other nice and fun folks) ran about 10km, from FLOW to the airport and back. Not even a quarter marathon, you guys! It was more like what I prefer to call a “mini marathon”. Still lots of fun, still supporting the orphans, but – sadly enough – not an actual marathon, for me. Maybe someday. Some day in the distant, distant future. For the time being, however, all that training I did for a half-marathon I had hoped to run in October sure came in handy. Yup…all that training. Makes me tired just thinking about how hard I trained.
Ah, thinking about running makes me think of a few people and things that I miss about Chicago and the general US: I miss Fallon, of course, and I miss yoga. Now I’m going to list a few more people and things that I miss! I miss Amy, and the South Loop Wine Cellar, and wow do I miss drinking wine. I miss real coffee, although I did have some very delicious coffee in Vietnam and Thailand. I miss ice cream, but I’ve heard rumors of a very good ice cream parlor in Phnom Penh. That will be checked out imminently.
Of course, for everything I miss, I’m constantly discovering new things that delight (or at least intrigue) me and make me so happy to be here. For example! Green mangoes and chili salt. Pineapple soup (I struggle to recall a soup I’ve consumed in Cambodia that has not featured pineapple in some way). Oh, these really awesome tiny eggplants and (not tiny) green tomatoes. Well, those new delightful items were all edible but this next one isn’t: being called Sister (“Sisteh!”) all the time. (Thanks Pat for noticing that that is, indeed, awesome!)
Regarding my boasting about learning kids’ names last blog: individual attention means the world to these kids. I got so proud of myself for learning so many names (I think rather quickly – though I had no idea how hard it would be to learn names in another language. I can’t tell if it’s gotten easier of more difficult as I discover kids with the same names as others) because they So Love to be remembered individually. I said hi to one of the girls in my beginning English class by name the other afternoon and she responded, “Ooh! I love you Sister!” She was so happy; my heart glowed!
Well, this has been unnecessarily lenthy. Now, for my mom, I’m including a photo of the view from my window. It’s ephing pastoral.
P.S. Chansy just brought me a cup of black coffee. !