volunteering

November 30, 2008 at 8:56 pm 2 comments

I’ve been neglecting to update for several reasons. One of them is my desire to upload pictures along with the text and since i can’t upload all my photos due to slow internet connections and i don’t want to scan the hundreds of new photos i have just to choose 2 or 3 for my journal, i’ve been avoiding writing at all. But don’t worry, i’ve been thinking about you :)

Another reason is my left hand. I am using it now to type but for some reason, every time i use the computer it becomes numb and tingly for the next 24 hours. I read it’s something to do with nerves and is similar to corporal tunnel syndrome. But i didn’t have this despite using my laptop for hours a day, every day back in the states, so i don’t know what to think. I’ll just hope that it goes away soon.

I’m back in Phnom Penh. I’m going to be volunteering in a school catering to young adults. I’ll be teaching English to 4 classes from 4-8pm. I’m living in the volunteer house of the school with 10 other people. I’m the youngest at 23. Most of the others are in their late 20s or early 30s. The only exceptions are my 61 year old roommate and my favorite housemates, the 70 year old Canadian couple. It’s interesting the way certain people attract you even before you discover your similarities. It turned out that Bertha and Eli are Jewish and even speak Yiddish! There is something vaguely familiar in their frank but open way and they remind me of grandparents i might have had if had them.

The students who attend the school come from low to middle class backgrounds and pay a very small fee for the course. The volunteers who live in the school pay a small fee for room & board. All money that is leftover after expenses is donated to the Cambodian Rural Development Team, whose goal is to create a sustainable way of life in rural Cambodia by helping villagers overcome poverty by teaching them how to use resources without degrading the environment. The Cambodian experts live in the villages they are trying to help, rather than relying on foreign assistants who may not truly understand the needs or the languages of the villagers.

Today is Sunday and i’ve just returned from a walk with the Hash House Harriers. It was the 888 run in Phnom Penh and this was a cause for celebration – lots of beer (usual), but also lots of people (119 foriegn & Khmer) and a barbeque. It’s getting cold in Cambodia and i spent the hour-long boat ride back to the riverside from the village where we walked/ran trying to talk to distract myself from the chill. I felt almost naked today wearing my short shorts and tank top to the Hash due to all the recent talk during orientation at the school about modesty in dress and it’s correlation to how students percieve you. I’m a strong believer in freedom of dress (where safety permits) and i usually choose my own dress preferences over cultural norms.

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Entry filed under: travel. Tags: , , .

luxuries Kratie province

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. GS  |  December 1, 2008 at 6:47 am

    Congratulations!
    I think your students are happy to hear and understand you.
    Good luck!

    Reply
  • 2. Loh SC  |  December 2, 2008 at 9:49 pm

    Dear Yelena, my wife Shuh Jen and I were delighted to have met you during lunch at the cafe at Phnom Phen’s Russian Market. We are amazed at your tenacity and resilience after reading your blog. I am sure when you are 50 years old like us, you will forget all the hardships you faced traveling through indo china and remember the good times and experience you had and friends you made. If you feel lonely and depressed again, remember that help is available and you can fly to Singapore cheaply on JetStar Asia, and stay with us. We will provide all the ingredients for you to make your salad that we hope to taste. God bless you and protect you.

    Reply

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