Sunday, July 22, 2012

One Year Mark

It was just about this point in time last year that I was saying goodbye to my family and friends for two years in the Peace Corps.  Well I’ve made it to the one year mark, the new group has arrived, and I’m preparing to come home (just for a visit) to see everyone before my final year of service.

It’s definitely been a year of firsts.
  • ·         First time on a different continent
  • ·         Seen my first wonder of the world (depending on which list you consult)
  • ·         First time living below the poverty line
  • ·         First time I’ve ate numerous animals and insects I had no clue were edible
  • ·         First time hand washing my clothes
  • ·         First time anyone in my life has ever referred to me as ‘Teacher’

I’m sure there have been more, but these are what immediately jump to mind.

On the other end of the spectrum there are several things I have done without that I didn’t think I would miss so much, but have been a huge contributing factor to my overall homesickness.

  • ·         AC, this one is obvious but it still makes me think of America everyday
  • ·         Ice cream, in a country that’s like the surface of the sun there is an alarming lack of ice cream
  • ·         Any type of cake, they have bread but if you are looking for a cake (not in Phnom Penh) you’re SOL
  • ·         My car has been something I sorely miss, farthest I’ve biked in one day is 110k
  • ·         Cheese
  • ·         Anything that’s open after 8PM
  • ·         Dogs you can pet
  • ·         Unlimited texting

I could go on but you get the point.

I didn’t involve all the friends, family and pets in here but I think that goes without saying.  I miss you all!

Since I arrived in Cambodia most of my expertise has centered on keeping kids thinking and learning during class but I have improved in other areas also.

  • ·         I consider myself an expert in mosquito, food, water, and fecal borne illnesses
  • ·         I have read nearly 40 books in the last 10 months
  • ·         Become fairly proficient in a language that shares almost no cognates with English
  • ·         Improved my meager guitar skills
  • ·         Shaving with no mirror
  • ·         Overall knowledge of English grammar

When looking at my experience and how it has changed me, I need look no further than the new group that just arrived.  I wasn’t exactly like them in every aspect but as far as not knowing what I got myself into when I accepted the invitation to serve in Peace Corps, I was right where they are now.  It was by no means easy for me to accept that Cambodia would be my life for two full years, and there were plenty of days I thought one more bowl of rice would do me in, but it’s interesting to see how far you can push yourself when faced with major lifestyle changes or unemployment.

I promised myself to make it to the year mark and then I would decide what my next move would be.  So I’ve reached that point and although it hasn’t always been the most pleasant experience at all times, I will never have an opportunity like this again anytime soon, so in all likelihood I will be spending one more year here.

Looks like it’s gonna be another hot one today.
Dear Mom and Dad, please send money.