So I have to be honest and say that I wasn’t looking forward to Thanksgiving at all. This was my first Thanksgiving ever away from home, and I was not looking forward to teaching all day, and then attempting to scrounge up a Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday, but it actually turned out wonderfully!
Two other PCVs and I headed over to the provincial town Saturday and decided to be super fancy and splurge at a nice guesthouse (little hotel). We basked in the air conditioning, and enjoyed cable TV with English channels! The guesthouse was beautiful and had an amazing view of the lake and hammocks for us to lounge in. It was an awesome break, and I felt like I was able to get away.
On Sunday we had our Cambodian-American Thanksgiving dinner. I am amazed at how well it turned out! We somehow found amazing fried chicken from a street vendor, so that became our “turkey”. The market had everything we needed for mashed potatoes, green beans and modified banana cream pie. My awesome co-teacher won a scholarship to go to the US and observe American teachers, and she brought me back some Souffer’s Stuffing. One of the volunteer’s host sister made an awesome Khmer salad and noodles. Even Mom’s candy corn recipe made an appearance. It turned out amazing!
It was also a good time to reflect on everything I am thankful for. Being in Cambodia these last 5 months has shown me just how blessed I am. I am so thankful for my family and friends in America, but I am also thankful for my Khmer family and friends. Before I left I was talking with a man who had visited Cambodia, and he said that everywhere he went, he felt as though everyone he met was family. I didn’t exactly understand what he meant by that, but now I do. Khmer people are amazing. It isn’t uncommon for me to be walking down the street, and be invited to sit down and drink a coconut. My host family is so sweet as well. I went to Phnom Pehn for a day, and when I returned my host mom gave me a big hug and told me how much she missed me. I am so thankful for my Peace Corps friends as well. I am so lucky to be so close to other awesome volunteers!
Being here also has shown me how lucky I am to have all of the things I take for granted back home. I can turn on the faucet and there will be clean water in an almost endless supply, despite living in a desert. As a woman, I have pretty much the same rights as men, and I am able to choose for myself who to marry and what my profession will be. I am grateful for the American educational system, because despite it’s flaws, it could be so much worse. I am thankful that I was able to receive a great free education from grades 1-12, and a highly subsidized university education. I am thankful that I live in a country that values international development, and gives me the opportunity to be here. I am grateful to know that even if I ever were to fall into poverty, I would most likely still have an apartment with electricity and clean water, and some type of food on my table. Its amazing how many things I took for granted at home. Every once in a while I will be talking to someone, and they will mention me taking their child home with me when I go back to the US. I try to laugh it off, and act as though they are joking, but I think that the truth is that they are serious. They know that there are so many opportunities in America, they would be willing to send their child off with me, so they could have a better life. I am so lucky.
I hope that everyone had a happy and safe Thanksgiving. I will try to write again soon.