Disclaimer: These are my views and do not reflect the views of the Peace Corps.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

First Day of School

I woke up early, 3:15 am or so, to a dog sporadically, yet incessantly, barking right below my window. My room 1 is on the second floor, and I wasn't about to get up and go downstairs to see what was going on. I lay there for awhile considering my options, and eventually took the more passive, less violent option of throwing in some earplugs. A few hours later, I woke up again and threw on some music to get pumped for the day (Pinback and then, I'm embarrassed to admit, a little "Party in the USA" by Miley Cyrus :) it's just so catchy "then i put my hands up they're singing my song...." i'm sure you know the rest) Holding my water heater at chest height, because the outlet is set high on a post and the cord doesn't reach the floor, i boil a liter for coffee and oatmeal (still my go-to breakfast).

Excited about the day, I dance around the room throwing my most formal outfit, i.e. black pants, a belt (still getting used to that thing...), the nice collared blue shirt my mom got for me, and, of course, sandals. Next, I hop on my Peace Corps bike with my P.C. approved, goofy-looking, helmet and bike off to school. I weave in and out of potholes, puddles, teens, and children, who bike at what I endearingly call the "Khmer pace," to be distinguished from "the American pace" that I like to set.

I get to school and chat with a few of my co-teachers and vice principal. The vp asks me if I like wwe / wwf wrestling and tells me about how much he likes "The Undertaker" this is all in Khmer, with a little help from one of the co-teachers who speaks some English. As 8:30 rolls around (I was told to be there at 7:30...) things began. A stage was set up in front of the students, there was an m.c. and a table with the school director, vp, who I assumed were the district governor and the head of the education dept, and then there was me. Having been invited to sit at the front, I played the role of the trophy white person, sitting and smiling for two hours. I asked the director if he wanted me to say anything, but, without receiving a direct no, I realized that they just wanted me to sit. So i sat. That was it. School was done for the day, and I went home.

I spent the rest of the day, doing what is slowly becoming my routine, i.e. running to train for the half-marathon in December, lifting weights or doing yoga, reading in my hammock, studying khmer, playing kicki-feather with some of my host-siblings, and occasionally shooting the breeze with the mings (my host-aunts and my host-mom).


Bon Tope Dayk (Bedroom)

The wooden floor is covered
in a flowery plastic repetition
whose beginning and end are obscured
by its rectangular shape.

A bouquet of fake flowers,
whose floral attributes
resemble the laminated carpeting,
rests on the hard wood table.

Fireworks sound in the distance
as if timed to break
the silence softened by crickets.

I rock slowly
in a green mesh cradle
under a brick tiled roof
that leaks during storms,
while the cigarette-box-backed glass
mirrors my reflection
as I stare at an ancient temple,
the background of a beer poster
plastered on the wall.

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