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

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Exciting News!

I don't have TB! I had a positive test a few months ago and just got back negative results.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Adventures with Tanen (Howie howie)

(Ankor Thom)

(Temple in the woods.)

(Woods in the temple.)

(Tanen and I somewhere.)

(Tanen dressed up like me, ready to teach!)

We did a loop of the country. Traveled to Mondulkiri, Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, Kampot, and my site. The lan touri we were riding in got a flat tire and we got a little ripped off in Sihanoukville, but mostly everything went really smoothly.

I played a Soccer game yesterday and am really sore with a stomachache to boot. Excited about heading back to the homeland in less than two weeks though. School’s out for the summer. Luckily I’ve got some other projects to keep me busy. I’m working on putting together a speaker and audio file project for my co-teacher (funded graciously by Uncle Dale and the Joneses) so that he can use music next year in the classroom and in his private classes as well. Speaking of wells, I submitted a well proposal to Appropriate Projects and I’m still waiting to hear back from them to see if it got approved. Additionally, I’m playing the role of Harry Potter in an audio project that another volunteer Emily is putting together and also working on national curriculum development for grade 7.

Besides that, I’m finding some time to play guitar and read. I read the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, a very good book, recommended by Tanen Brown. It really captures some of the moral ambiguities that come up in Western medicine. Before that I read “The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down” a book about cross cultural medicine between a Hmong family and their little girl who has epilepsy, which translated from Hmong is the title of the book. I guess I’ve just been on a science phase lately, because I just finished “A Brief History of Time” as well. The pendulum is beginning to swing back though as I just got “Blades of Grass” from Tanen too, so I’ve started that, as well as another Murakami book.

Some people have been wondering what the exact dates are that I'll be home. I'm flying in on the 7th and out on the 27th of July. I'm hoping to make a trip down south at some point and I'll try and see as many of you as I can on the way.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Traveling with Tanen and Che!

Here's a few pictures from our travels. I'll update with some stories when I get the chance.

(Turn your head to the left and cough.)

(Tanen and I in front of Ankor)

(A temple.)

(Riding an elephant!)

(I really hope that water was clean...)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Post Prandial Prattling

(The subscript of my sister's wedding photo: "Romantic Moments: more loves, more happiness!)

I looked through the wedding pictures with my host family yesterday. It was then that I learned that I missed the "standing in line ceremony" which happened while I was trying to sleep the morning of the second wedding day. That was why the music started at 5am...

I just finished my pb&honey oatmeal, and I'm listening to Frightened Rabbit. They are very good and I recommend listening to the tracks "Fast Blood" "The Modern Leper" and "My Backwards Walk."

I have a family of mice living in my room. I used to have one, or maybe two, but yesterday there were confirmed sightings of at least four mice, two of them babies. They're really cute, but they make noise at night (mostly squeaking) and they drop little pellets all over my room, which is not cool.

(One of the babies playing with my P.C. badge).

The school year is just about wrapped up. Twelfth (what a bizarre spelly word!) graders have testing next week, and the other grades will be finishing up shortly after. My clubs may start back up again once the testing is over, but it depends on the students. Would you want to take foreign language classes in the summer?

I live on a farm. I've had my suspicions about this all along, but now I'm pretty sure. Besides the mice, we have pigs, cows, ducks, dogs, chickens, roosters (que je deteste!), and a rice field behind the house. I think the only one missing from the e.i.e.i.o. crew is a horse (but how are you really supposed to double a monosyllabic horse sound anyway, "neigh neigh," really?).

Tanen is coming to Cambodia!

(I imagine our adventures will be something like this.)

My nickname for Tanen is "Tinny" or "Rin tin tin" or "Tin tin" and I believe Nick Chase coined "Rin Tin Squin Tin" and it's possible that Kayla or Casey came up with "Tinny poo." Regardless of origin, it seems that Tanen Brown's sobriquet destined him for a trip to Cambodia.

Here it is, your moment of zen:

(My students were studying this and I felt compelled to take a picture of the lesson. She has a big ball.)

(He looks so sad. This is about teaching adjectives, and using 'my' and 'your' to indicate possession and nothing else.)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Videos from Vietnam

I'm in the Peace Corps office and making the best of the fast internet while I can.

A video from Halong Bay.

A waterfall in northern Vietnam.

I played with the filter a little bit, but in reality the colors were very bright.

The ninja ceremony.

Musicians from the wedding.

Wedding Crashers!

(My host sister and her groom)

I went to my host-sisters wedding last weekend. Well, "went" isn't exactly the right term because it was at my house. Here's a description I wrote for one of my friends already:

(Our house, decked out for the wedding.)

(A close up of the door. The English signs are still up!)

My older host sister just got married. Wedding's last two days here, which is one day less than the traditional three days that they used to be so I suppose I should be glad. On Saturday, people and tents and movements all began happening around 6 am. I came downstairs in a towel, and was greeted many sets of eyes belonging to most of the groom's family. "Eee, barong!" or "A foreigner!" I nod my head yes and really just want to have a shower without being stared at. The bathroom's outside and I have to walk in plain view of the road and front yard to get to it. I showered and went back to my room to have my usual breakfast of coffee and oatmeal. The next time I came downstairs, fully dressed, I looked to my right and saw the groom's grandpa in the corner smoking something that didn't quite smell like tobacco. Old people can do whatever they want in this society without anyone giving them a second glance. I like this aspect to a degree. Anyone around 50 or older remembers and survived the Khmer Rouge. I have to try and keep this in mind as many of them have mental health problems and lots of them like groping me. One of the grandmas at the wedding really would not leave my arm alone. The rest of the first day consisted of me chatting with various new people, seeing someone get shocked after what was the beginnings of an electrical fire, sweating, taking pictures, playing some guitar for everyone, and chopping down a few trees out front to help make space for the tents.

(This is where the cooking was done.)

(The wedding bouquet?)

(Yes, those are cigarettes.)

The next morning the music started at 5am. It was blaring! Imagine 20 speakers set to full volume past the point of good sound quality, when the high pitches from the singer's voice become electronic static. I put in earplugs and could hear it clearly, but was so tired that I managed to toss and turn until 8. I endured another early morning exhibition as more and more people had come to the house ostensibly to watch me descend the stairs... There were many ceremonies on the second day, seemingly just for the sake of having ceremonies. Two people were hired to walk everyone through the ceremonies and no one seemed to know what to do

until they were told. We pretended to cut the hair of the bride and groom, we tied pieces of red string to their wrists, and sat through the chanting of monks again (as we'd done the day before). There was a break and I went to try and nap but the music, constant since 5am did not allow me any such convenience, so I read trying to regain some sense of sanity.

The reception was the last part. I walked around with a bucket of ice filling peoples glasses because it's always nice to have something to do. Later my host-dad held my hand and led me around as the "trophy foreigner" and introduced me to whoever he wanted. The hand holding I'm pretty used to at this point. I still have my boundaries though. I'm not proud of this, but as the people I sat with got more drunk and people began to get in my face and grab my arm, I took to saying slightly offensive things in English. I used a lot of slang. I said things with a smile. What a strange contradiction. My patience has increased exponentially after being here, but I still have my limits. Two nights of not enough sleep and solely interacting in another language for hours on end...I don't know, it's hard sometimes.

Eventually, came the dancing. I have never danced as strangely as I do here. I mix their style, with my own goofy style, and just let loose. It's not pretty, but I have a good time. The dancing lasted until around 11 when a fight broke out. I saw a kid get belted in the head. Everyone got upset, the music stopped, it was sad that this happened at a wedding where everyone was having fun. The police showed up with AKs and my host dad told me to go to bed. I didn't need to be told twice.

Extra pictures:

(Chocolate from Aunt Chelle, Uncle Joe, Josh, Luke, and Kayla, totally melted, but still delicious!)

(This is chicken drying in the sun. I live on the second floor. I have one neighbor up there. She didn't put the chicken there. It's kind of a mystery.)