Hi everyone! Sorry it has taken so long to write again. It has been crazy here the last few weeks. Last week we finished up training, and headed to Phnom Penh for swear in. It was hard to leave my host training family. Even though I was only there for 2 months, I felt like I was really part of the family. Luckily, my new site is still in Takeo district, not too far from my training family.
I packed everything up last Monday, and then headed to Phnom Pehn on Tuesday for a few more sessions and swear in. It was so nice being in Phnom Penh for those few days. Our hotel room even had a heated shower and air conditioning! I ate a ton of western food (and hardly any rice!) and enjoyed the city life for a few days. On Friday, I was sworn in as an official Peace Corps Volunteer (until that point I was a Peace Corps Trainee) at the Ambassador’s home. It was an incredible experience. I am hoping to find some of the pictures taken, and if I do I will post them. It was an awesome experience being able to talk to the Ambassador and other Embassy Officials.
A few hours after swear in, we were off to our new homes. I am lucky because I have a few other volunteers around me within an hour bike ride. My new host family is awesome. I have a host mom, host dad, a sister my age and a younger sister who live with me. My host mom is a housewife, and my host dad has a moto repair shop in front of our house. I also have a host grandma who lives down the road, and a older sister who is married and has the most adorable baby who lives about 10 km away. The house is absolutely beautiful! We have electricity and running water (and even a western shower!!!). My community seems very nice and welcoming. There have been 2 PCVs in my town before me, so they understand what it is exactly that I’m doing.
Unfortunately, school doesn’t start until the 1st, so I have gone from a packed schedule of training, to absolutely nothing. During the first few weeks, we are supposed to be focusing on integrating-a tough task for someone who doesn’t speak the language very well. In the mornings I go to the market with my host mom to buy food for lunch and dinner, and grab some breakfast. I am so excited because there is a lady who sells waffles at the market, so that has been my staple breakfast since I got here! Then I usually head down to the school. School isn’t officially in session, but many teachers offer private fee based classes, so there are lots of kids at the school. I buy my coffee and hang out with whatever kids and teachers are there that day. In the afternoons I will hang out a little more, go for a bike ride and then read. It is hard having all of this free time every day. I am so used to having multiple jobs/taking a ton of credit hours that it is strange not to have a to do list a million miles long. Hopefully I will get used to it soon!
Also I finally have an address! I know some people have been asking for it, so here it is:
Samantha *Last Name* K7
Peace Corps Cambodia
PO Box 2453
Phnom Penh 3
Kingdom of Cambodia
And here’s some pictures from the last few weeks
My sweet training family that I was so sad to leave
Yes that is a monkey sticking his hand out of the cage….
My awesome neighbor kids who loved to help me prep for classes
The Killing Field in Phnom Penh
Hi everyone! I’m so sorry I haven’t been writing. Things have been crazy and for some reason wordpress doesn’t want to load when I use my internet stick. Anyways I arrived in Cambodia a few weeks ago. We all stayed at a guest house for a few days and had training sessions all day. On the first Sunday, we met our host families after a welcome ceremony where we were blessed by the monks. My host family is awesome! I live with a grandma, mom, dad and 2 sisters (14 and 16). I also have a host brother but he goes to school in Phnom Pehn. Our house is pretty nice. We have electricity but no running water. I’m starting to get used to bucket baths, so that is a good thing.
We have been really busy. We have training from 8 to 5 Monday to Saturday. There’s 4-6 hours of language training, and then the rest of the day is filled with technical sessions. My Khmer is coming along, but not as quickly as I would like. I am just starting to be able to make sentences and communicate with my host family. We have gotten very good at charades! Once I get home I try to do some laundry (I promise I will never complain about doing laundry in a machine again! Holy cow it takes forever to do laundry by hand) and study my Khmer. Then its time for dinner, and then bed.
I’m really loving Cambodia, but it is hard. The people are wonderful and so nice. I’m starting to adjust to everything, but there’s still a ton of culture shock. I miss home a lot, but I’m happy to be in Cambodia. For the most part, the food is pretty good. My host mom and grandma are awesome cooks. There hasn’t been too much weird food, but we did have ants and larvae for lunch, and snails for dinner one day (I tried the ants… They weren’t bad but the mental thing was too much, and I didn’t try the snails). We eat a ton of rice with every meal.
I hope everyone at home is doing well! I promise to write again soon.
So I just wanted to write a quick update on staging. I’m sitting in the LA airport getting ready to leave for Cambodia. Yikes! I can’t believe it is finally here. It feels so surreal. Yesterday was staging. We were all supposed to meet up in LA at 2 and start training. I got to the airport early and said my goodbyes. The plane was supposed to leave at 10. Its time to board and then they get on the intercom and say that there is a mechanical issue and it will take a few minutes. Then they say it will take a half hour, oh just kidding another hour, and then finally ooops the flights cancelled. When I first got to the airport I was a little nervous and anxious, but I was doing okay. Well after all of that, I really started to panic and question whether or not it was a sign. Luckily I was able to call the airline and they put me on a flight that left at 2 (though I was really lucky because other people on my flight were told that they had to wait until tomorrow). Luckily I didn’t chicken out and made it to LA.
Staging was supposed to start at 2, but because of my flight I got there at 4:30 and missed the first session. Luckily it didn’t seem like I missed too much. We talked about the Peace Corps’ expectations and how we plan to meet those. Our group seems really nice. I believe that there are 49 of us. Most have graduated within a few years, but there are a couple of older volunteers. It seems like there are a few more education volunteers than health. I’m feeling a lot better now. I just panicked when my flight got all messed up, but it all worked out. I’m actually calmer today than I was yesterday. Hopefully I won’t start to worry too much when we get on the plane. I’ll write more when we land!
Everything has been falling into place over the last week. In case you didn’t know, I am going to Europe tomorrow! I am so excited. My Padre, Barb and I are going to London, the Czech Republic, Germany and Austria for almost 2 weeks. I can’t wait! It should be amazing, but that’s a lot of travel less than a month before I leave for Cambodia. I had been waiting for some paperwork from NAU to get my teaching license. I was worried that it wouldn’t come before I left for Europe, and if I turned in the paperwork when I got home it might not get done before I left for Cambodia. But it came on Saturday! Hooray! Although they said they couldn’t tell me if teaching in the Peace Corps would count for the 2 years full time teaching experience when it was time to renew my license, but I’ll deal with that when the time comes :). One less thing I have to worry about!
Also, my flight info/staging information arrived! Staging is the training that all of us heading to Cambodia will attend before we leave. It will be in LA July 9th. I’ll fly out in the morning, and we’ll have meetings all afternoon. Then on July 10th, we will fly out of LAX and head to Cambodia! Yikes! We leave LA on Wednesday at 1:00 pm, fly over to Tokyo and refill, and then head over to Bangkok (20 hours!). Then we have a 9 hour layover in Bangkok, and head over to Cambodia at 8:00 am. We finally get to Cambodia at 9:00 am on Friday. I can’t even begin to fathom being on a plane for that long. The good news is, after my flight to Europe and my flight to Cambodia I’ll be so sick of flying even if I freak out once I get there and refuse to get off the plane, there’s no way I’m going to go on another 20 hour flight home, so I’ll just suck it up :). Anyways, I can’t wait for Europe tomorrow! Should be lots of fun :).
Apparently Emma is coming to Europe with us!
Yikes! I can’t believe I have just a little over a month until I leave for Cambodia. I am starting to get really excited, and really nervous at the same time. It has been crazy the last few months. I’ve finished student teaching, graduated, finished all of my Peace Corps medical adventures and started trying to get everything ready for Cambodia. Of course I still have a million more things to do before I leave, but it will all get done hopefully sometime soon. I am really excited because I am going to Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic with my padre and his girlfriend for 2 weeks next Thursday. I can’t wait! So many adventures in the next few weeks!
Hopefully we should hear the official information about staging soon. Staging is where all of the Cambodian Volunteers (K7) meet up in the US for a couple days before we leave for Cambodia. We don’t know where it is yet, but it looks like it will probably be in San Francisco or Washington D.C. My letter said that staging would begin on July 9th, but some other K7s were told it was July 10th, so hopefully we will hear something soon. I’m crossing my fingers that I hear before I leave for Europe, because trying to get my flight to Cambodia all sorted out in Europe doesn’t sound that fun. Well I’m sure that I will hear something soon. Until then, I’ll be eating ridiculous amounts of Chipotle and ice cream :).