These past couple of days I have been able to get a small glimpse of what elementary schools are like here in Cambodia. We were able to visit the New International Builders Committee for Education's Rainbow and Kontrak schools. Since I am an elementary education major and am wanting to teach abroad in the future, it was very eye-opening to be able to observe and teach English at a Cambodian school. One of the main reasons why I wanted to go on this interim was to observe and understand the education system in a country that is very different than what I am used to. Therefore, when I found out that I was going to have the opportunity to observe classrooms in the morning and then get to teach an English lesson to 3rd and 4th grade, I was ecstatic! Continue reading "Falling in love with the Khmer children"
This trip has added to my view of God's world in many different ways. The people of Cambodia live simply. They have different struggles than we do. They have so little but are happy. We saw children playing jump rope with rubber bands all tied together. They do not need much to enjoy life and find ways to entertain themselves. I felt guilty thinking about all the toys I had as a child that I took for granted and really didn't appreciate. We visited in a home in a village and although they had so little they were so hospitable and glad to have us visit. They swept off their dirt floors in anticipation of our visit. It is so hard to compare the two countries because they are different in so many ways. In order to get the most out of this trip, one must come in with open eyes and heart. Coming out of this trip I want to live simple. I know this will be easier said than done but it is a goal of mine. To no longer take everything I have for granted and appreciate what I have. I will make more of an effort to live in community rather then consumed by the worldly things. Cambodia is truly a country that values community. That is something I would like to strive for back in the states. God brought me on this trip to learn and right now I am feeling humbled by all I have learned and experienced.
During my time in Cambodia, I have been thinking about what it means to be a pilgrim versus a tourist and what role I fill on our journey. Coming to Cambodia, of course I wanted to be a pilgrim and fully engage in the Cambodian culture and community. However, I soon learned it is not as easy as it seems. It is difficult to not be a tourist when we are at Angkor Wat or walking the streets of the night market in Siem Reap. Even though I don't want to be perceived as being a tourist, just by the way I look automatically places me in that role to a certain extent. When I go visit homes or serve at the nonprofit organizations, the Cambodian people view me as a westerner. This is not necessarily a bad thing, however, it is another factor as to why we cannot completely be viewed or feel like a pilgrim here in Cambodia. Continue reading "What is my role?"
While staying in Siem Reap, we were able to visit the massive West Baray lake and discuss it. This body of water was constructed by the Khmer Empire thousands of years ago and stretches for miles. A series of dykes controls water flow out of the resevoir and into canels for irregation. The people of the region rely heavily on the water that is produced from the resevoir fir agriculture. In recent years though, one can notice the "bathtub ring" forming along the edge of the resevoir due to falling water levels. The West Resevoir isn't the only place to experience falling water levels. To the south lies Tonle Sap Lake, which is the largest lake in South East Asia and provides the majority of protein to Cambodia in the form of fish. Low water levels have also recently plagued Tonle Sap and have started to worry people. The loss of either of these bodies of water would be devestating to the people in the region and all of Cambodia. While there may be many factors at play here- many people are pointing to climate change as a culprit. Continue reading "Blogpost #3- Ben Johnson"
Well, it's official, we're half way through our interim trip. I really don't know what's harder to grasp, the fact that we've been traveling for 12 days or that we have 12 more days to go. (I suppose the amount of days differ depending on how you count when we left and get back, but for arguments sake let's call it 24 days total.) I've been having a hard time coming up with what to blog about and, honestly, I've been struggling getting the motivation to do so, too. There's so much to see and do and explore and it doesn't help that heat is exhausting. But since the number 12 is on my mind, here are 12 minus 8 ways my view has changed since leaving Calvin. (I was going to do 12, but then the answers got kind of long so I decided against it.) Continue reading "Perspectives"
We have been gone approximately twelve days now, though to me (and many other people) it feels like far more. The squatty potties don't intimidate me, nor does the gecko who lives outside my hotel room door (who we affectionately named Tom). I also know that lots of geckos mean no snakes, so Tom can stay. I understand the flow of traffic, and that you just have to start walking and the flow of vehicles will move around you like a stream splitting around a rock. I see the painful reality that in the days at Cambodia, I have seen only 4 people clearly over the age of 60. I know what it is to do laundry in a sink, and that cotton shirts take about 42 hours to dry. I love that the restaurants are so cheap, and that nightly ice cream at the Blue Pumpkin is an unbreakable ritual. Nevertheless, I don't know what it is to support a family on 1 US dollar a day. I don't know what it is like to have ONLY one small meal a day graciously provided by a NGO. I don't know what it is to not have air conditioning for at least part of a day, or to live my life depending on a tourists interest on my stall filled with trinkets almost entirely made in Thailand, all of which can be found in countless other stands. I don't know what it is to only be able to go to school half a day in which time teachers withhold valuable information that is reserved for the richer students who can afford a private tutoring session. I don't know what it is like to be pressured by my family into prostitution in order to make money for my family. I don't know what it is to not have access to education, basic medical and dental care, and nutritious food. My hair has never changed color because I am lacking so much protein in my diet. But I have learned we have a Global God. We have a God who's love is not limited to a singular nation, or a type of person. I know that regardless of the language spoken, the same God hears all our cries, our thanks, and our questionings. I know the same God works in incredible ways everywhere. Additionally, I now know that not everyone is called to go, some are called to stay in their homes. I know that God has placed some very special servants to live with and grow on community with those in Thailand and in Cambodia. I now know that everyone smiles in the same language. Now I understand that when you bow, your plans are not touching. Now I see that most NGO's are attempting good work, but with varying degrees of immediate success and potential longevity. My worldview is continuously changing, morphing as I gain more information. What a great God that had enabled us to go. Let us continue to go with God and listen to his urgings.
In Bangkok half of us went to the Ruth center an organization that helps the elderly in the slums. Noi was the leader of the Ruth center. She took us to many different elderly people within the slum and we gave them oranges, which they were so great full to receive. Before actually visiting a slum I had pictured them from how they are represented in movies. But the living conditions were worse then I could have imagined. The homes were built on a swamp, so they were sinking and it smelled like sewage and there was trash everywhere around the homes. There were holes in the roofs, so when it rained water would come in and rot the wood, and All the homes were crammed together. Continue reading "Bangkok- Visiting The Elderly"
I cant believe we are halfway through this trip. As I look back at the places we have gone, things we have seen, and experiences we've had over this last week and a half, I have started to compile my thoughts of how has my perspective has changed on how I see the world. The opportunity we have been given, as Calvin students, to be here in Cambodia is an experience like none other; that can impact our everyday lives, if we let it. This trip has continued to show me how large this world is. The concept of being on the complete opposite side of the world is still mind boggling. As the world gets bigger, I begin to see how large and powerful our God is and how truly small I am. It is humbling to know that the God of this universe, creator of all, and our heavenly father is willing to work through us even though we are a minuscule part of his creation. Continue reading "Blog Post 3"
So here we are, already a week into our trip. Somehow it feels like we left home weeks ago. I have already had so many experiences and seen so many things that I will never forget. Despite the fact that I still have two more weeks to spend and many more things to experience in Cambodia, I am positive that this trip has and will continue to change me. My eyes have been opened to so many parts of God's creation that I have either never seen or never had the courage to care about. I have no doubt that these parts of creation that I have seen have changed my view of God and His plan for my life. Continue reading "God’s Community"
I have never been abroad and have been ignorant of other cultures and of God's big picture because I have not experienced much outside the comfort of my own home. I thank God for this opportunity because although it has only been a little over a week, my view of His creation has changed dramatically. This trip has involved many stark contrasts that have made me question my lifestyle and everything that I know. Continue reading "Blogpost 3: beauty is everywhere"