Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Great Goodbye(s)

My service is over and I am officially an RPCV. Well, not quite because to be an RPCV you must be a 'Returned Peace Corps Volunteer' and I don't plan on returning to the States for another month. Instead I'm zipping around Cambodia - as a sort of goodbye tour -with some of my very best friends from home. They arrive on Friday and I couldn't be more excited.

This last week was hard. Although not as hard as I imagined it to be. I had goodbye soup with my co-teachers one night, followed by goodbye soup with my students the next, and then goodbye soup the last night with my counterpart Soksara from the health center. The hardest goodbye was to her because she has helped me so much this past year with projects like Camp GLOW and CCPCR, as well as being a good friend and always being there when I needed help. It's people like her that make being a Peace Corps Volunteer a hundred times easier, and tolerable when dealing with so much adversity and intolerance that can come when being the only foreigner in a town of thousands.

My goodbyes are far from over though. Staggering throughout these next two weeks, as I travel around the country, I will eventually say goodbye to most of all my fellow K3s. It's nice to know that the majority of us will go back to the same country and I'm optimistic that I will see people again. I think that is the only way I can make these goodbyes tolerable.

I don't have much else to write. Saying goodbye is exhausting. I'll try to post pictures tomorrow.

Monday, July 4, 2011

To the United States of America

To the United States of America,

This is your warning.

I am no longer the model citizen I once was.

Cambodia has changed me... maybe for the better and maybe for the worse. I want to warn you about a few things, however, that may surprise/disgust/frighten you. I've put them in an easy to peruse format for your reading pleasure. Here we go....

1) I spit food on the ground
2) I make strange noises like "ooooey" when I am surprised
3) I think an outfit can consist of a printed scarf with a striped shirt, sweatpant shorts, and chacos.
4) Do you need a tissue to blow your nose? Because I don't!
5) A palm leaf is a perfectly good substitute for floss
6) Anything can be a food. Why do we need to be so picky? I vote for termites to be adopted into the typical American's diet.
7) I bow to older people
8) I haggle over a 50 cent difference in price.
9) Soup or fried pork with rice are perfectly legitimate options for breakfast
10) Need to toast before every drink... literally

To be continued...

The Great Experiment Nears the End

All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

In one week it's over. My experiment/career as a Peace Corps volunteer in Cambodia is over.

It's been great, it's been horrible, it's went by quickly, and it also took forever. Right now I'm just trying to take one day at a time before I really take stock of the fact that there are people I will never see again, places that will never be the same.

Last Tuesday I finished my externship with CCPCR. It was great to meet those girls and young women and spend so much time with them. I'm a bit disappointed with how much time was forfeited to dengue. I lost two out of the four weeks I was given to work there and it cost me pretty much all that I had planned to do. The only thing I accomplished was a short workshop on health that I set up with a nurse from the health center in Romeas Hek.

Now I'm in Phnom Penh, trying to wrap up all my paperwork that I have - Description of Service, Site Report, Externship form, and about five other forms and papers - before I head back to site to say goodbye to everyone. I'm not really looking forward to it. I hate goodbyes. And everyone who has finished here , or are finishing up, said it has been the hardest thing they've done. EVER.

I hope I survive it...