Saturday, March 24, 2007

French Architecture

I know every person who comes to a foreign country suddenly starts to think they work for National Geographic, and can take terribly personal pictures of total strangers for no reason. However. I'm going to add a few because it FEELS like I live in a National Geographic magazine sometimes. People walk past me with sarongs and baskets on their heads. A man with buckets hanging from a bamboo pole across his shoulders. Naked children eating sugarcane. A woman with a shop ironing clothes with a 19th century andiron -- scooping coals with a bucket into the mechanism to heat it. Women working late into the night in open shops full of sewing machines. Drinking 7-up out of a plastic bag full of ice chipped off with a rusted hammer. A woman on the sidewalk of a restaurant chopping up a whole chicken with a cleaver on a round piece of wood.

Here's my contribution:

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The French Colonial Architecture is everywhere in Battambang. If you want your fill of picturesque distressed plaster walls, come here.

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A woman riding past the YWAM base with her child. Since diapers are expensive, and washing cloth diapers impracticle for a society that washes all clothes in a metal bowl, most small children don't wear clothes on the bottom half of their body. And lots wear nothing at all. It takes some getting used to, especially when a naked little boy comes up to play with you...

Me overlooking Battambang River

Me overlooking the river.

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Teaching at the Youth Center

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Alissa teaching English

Teaching at the youth center has been my bar-none favorite thing about being here. Alissa and I team teach the 4 oclock English class. One week we decided that we'd use the story of Joseph to teach them to listen to spoken English for comprehension. We originally hoped to only take 3 days, but the story is long, even condensed, and took us six. The kids got really excited (I say kids, but most are teenagers, and some up to my age), and began asking really insightful questions (a HUGE step, since this culture values regurgitation of facts over analysis). We finished on Monday, and began teaching English curriculum again. But in the middle of class, during a lesson on "how far -- how near" a student raised his hand and asked if he could get a copy of the story of Joseph to read for himself. I was teaching and sort of was taken aback, and said "sure, anyone else?" The whole class raised their hand. (I'm working on typing up a copy now -- some Biblical words and concepts don't translate well into Khmer, and don't translate well either to people unused to 'religious' wording -- then Seeung is going to translate it into Khmer for all the kids) It's taking up quite a bit of work, but we're so excited that they're excited.

I love this part. I love teaching English -- because I LOVE the English language, and I love how telling stories engages them. Even better if it's a true story. And since Joseph is my favorite ever Bible Story...the best ever!

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Seeung Translating into Khmer. His dream is to go to Canada for a degree in photography or architecture, but his family can't afford it. Seeung is 24 years old. Students that pass the exams to be international students are sometimes also required by the government to pay a 'fee' of about $3,000 to be allowed to go. Meiling's brother received top marks and the first place scholarship to study in Japan, but her family can't pay the 'fee.'

Jess and I wearing my new tops

Jess and Me wearing "stuff from the box."

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I got the box that afternoon with two pairs of shoes! I'd walked through mine almost, and the fabric part had holes where my toes had worn through. And not just flip flips == but sparkly flip flops!!! In red and green! And chocolate!

Thanks everyone who helped pack the box, put cards in, and send little hand lotions! Love you lots!