Cambodian Yays (Grandmas) are Feisty!

Can you believe it? 2 posts in 1 week! I’m actually remembering to blog! Aren’t you proud? So I’ve debated whether or not to post this, because it is a grumpy post, but I decided to because I want this blog to be an honest depiction of the Peace Corps, not just one that talks about the happy things. So here’s the story of my brawl* with a Yay (grandma) at the market.

So the other day as I was buying some breakfast and old lady came up to me and asked me for a thousand riel, which is equivalent to 25 cents. Now as a rule, I don’t give money to people who ask because as soon as I give it to one person, there will be ten more asking for money as well. And honestly, when your only making four bucks a day, a quarter is kinda a lot of money. Well I told her no, and she hits me. In Cambodia old ladies especially like to play hit, but this wasn’t a play hit. It wasn’t a painful punch either, but it definitely wasn’t a lighthearted hit.

Sometimes it can be so frustrating being here. This lady believed that she was entitled to this white, western woman’s money, and since I didn’t give her any money it was appropriate for her to hit me. Now I don’t want to sound dramatic, and have anyone worry about my safety. I could totally take a 70 year old Khmer grandma, and it wasn’t a painful punch or anything like that, but it was the principle of the whole thing that really upsetted me. I’m lucky that people in my community rarely ask for money, and I doubt that anything like this will ever happen again, but it still sucks.

Its just so frustrating feeling unappreciated sometimes. I wanted to scream at that old lady: “I’m giving up two years of my life for your country. Don’t get pissed that I won’t give you a quarter. I’m giving up two years of income, my health, two years with my family and friends, possibly my sanity and endless supply of cheese for you. I don’t owe you anything.” I know that the important thing the work that I’m doing, not the thanks that I get, but some days its just so infuriating.

The Peace Corps tells you that you will experience your highest of highs, and lowest of lows during your service, and they really weren’t kidding; I can go from happy as can be, to irate right back to happy in a day. I was seething all morning because of the yay (grandma) hitting me. Later that afternoon I was riding my bike and I could start to hear a moto slow down. Immediately I got annoyed because I thought it was some stranger who was going to go by me as slow as possible while staring at me (honestly its a miracle I haven’t caused multiple car accidents from people watching me instead of the road), but instead it was one of my brilliant students! We had an awesome conversation, and I went from being super grumpy to happy as can be. It’s exhausting feeling so many feelings in a day!

I really am trying to remember that not being grateful or expressing it is a universal trait. Back at home, there are plenty of people (myself included) who have trouble seeing the sacrifices that those around us make for us, or even if we do see them we don’t articulate our thanks. Anyways, I’m just going to keep on reminding myself that I am making a small difference to at least a couple of my kids, and remember that while receiving gratitude is nice, that’s not the reason why I’m here. The reason why I’m here it to inspire at least a couple of my kids to do great things to change their country for the better. And I’ll remember to watch out for Yays at the market.

*Just kidding! It was not a brawl, it was a slightly more aggressive than a play hit, hit

Back from America

So I’m back from an awesome trip back home! It was amazing! I got to run around Seoul for a few hours, ride on 306 airplanes (okay so maybe that part wasn’t the best), see my family and friends, love on my puppies, kitties and the newest addition: a bunny rabbit, and even visit Mickey Mouse!  I was able to spend 3 weeks doing crazy things like ride in cars with only 2 people in them, bask in the glory of air conditioning everywhere, wash clothes in a washing machine and go to Target as much as I wanted.  No one cared when I walked down the street, and I wasn’t called fat when I went shopping!  So weird!

A royal palace in Seoul

A royal palace in Seoul

Cool sites in Seoul

Cool sites in Seoul

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Mcdonalds!  In Seoul

Mcdonalds! In Seoul

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Spending time with the Madre

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We rode on lots of roller coasters

Hanging out with goofy!

Hanging out with goofy!

Hanging with Chip and Dale

Hanging with Chip and Dale

The happiest place on earth!

The happiest place on earth!

 

Our newest addition: the bunny Nikko

Our newest addition: the bunny Nikko

I got to hang out with my fur babiess

I got to hang out with my fur babiess

So excited for cheese!

So excited for cheese!

The Korean Airport has the cutest Dunkin Donuts donuts!  I had only 50 minutes coming back to catch my next flight, but I ran like a crazy person to get some breakfast for the next day!

The Korean Airport has the cutest Dunkin Donuts donuts! I had only 50 minutes coming back to catch my next flight, but I ran like a crazy person to get some breakfast for the next day!

 

It was so nice to see everyone! One year is by far the longest I’ve been without seeing my family, and I can’t imagine having had to wait another year to see them. I was able to just relax and enjoy all of the luxuries living in a first world country has.

 

I was a little concerned about how I would feel coming back to Cambodia. Would coming home make me even more homesick? Luckily, I was pleasantly surprised. I was happy to come back and see everyone, and everyone seemed to be happy to see me. Apparently the gossip around the village was that I was going home to find a husband. My market ladies were very upset to hear that I had in fact not found myself a husband or even a boyfriend in America. At the ripe old age of 22 I’m becoming an old maid, and obviously need to find someone quickly. One of my market ladies told me that she had a 57 year old family member who was a dentist and still single, and she would be happy to set me up with him. Haha! Uhh thanks but no thanks.

 

By some miracle the temperature has actually been tolerable lately! It is funny to see how much the weather seems to affect my mood here. I was happy to see my again, and especially my little nephew who learned how to walk while I was gone. The only things I wasn’t too happy to see were the mice that seemed to have moved into my room while I was gone. Not cool mice.

Sadly these were not the mice that moved into my room

 

School will be out until October, so I have a lot of free time right now. I’m hoping to start teaching more English Clubs, and get my environmental project off the ground. Hope everyone is doing well! I will try to write again soon!