Level 3

Saying goodbye to someone you love is never easy.  Even harder when it’s an entire country.  Today I experienced a bit of what that goodbye is going to feel like. And I am dreading it.

Today was my last day teaching my level 3 monks at Puok Buddhism Secondary School. Next week is their final test and then they have a break for 3 months.  Things get pretty busy for them during Khmer New Year in April and it is also their time to go back to their homes and see their families.  My level 2 students will come back as level 3 students so I will be lucky to teach them for another 2 months.  But my level 3 students will go on to Buddhism high school in Siem Reap to continue their education.  Most of them will move there.  I hate saying goodbye.

It was a hard day. I teared up a bit at the beginning of class but fought my way through it and continued teaching as normal.  Our lesson was on robberies.  The beginning of the second hour was spent answering the questions from the previous reading.  Finished pretty quickly. My monks are so smart. So I decided to do open discussion and say a goodbye.  I told them they could ask me any last minute questions about anything: English, America, university, and myself.  The first question was of course, what will I do after I stop teaching.  Will I stay in Cambodia? Will I go home? Will I ever come back?

My future is still uncertain.  But I do know that I will go back to the US after I COS.  I have to.  I want to.  I’ve got a wedding to plan and attend for an amazing sister who I miss so much it hurts.  I have friends who I haven’t seen in 2 years.  I have food to eat that is calling my name! (Don’t worry breakfast tacos….I hear you.) I have family to visit, jobs to apply for, and perhaps even school to get into. But I still don’t know anything for certain.

My co-teacher Samnang kept insisting I would work in Siem Reap.  Even if I went home, I would come back and work.  Right? I shook my head, “I don’t know.”

One student, Bon, asked me how I feel when I am in Cambodia.  And that’s when I started to cry.  Yes, I stood there and cried in front of my class full of monks.  I was red and embarrassed.  I laughed as some of the monks covered their faces with their books or looked away.  Some smiled.  Some told me not to cry.  Showing emotion is not something you see much of in this culture.

But I cried. Because that question has so many answers.  I thought of the first time I ever came to Puok pagoda and stepped into the classroom.  These monks were my first students.  I met them on my second day at site.  And they changed my life.

How do I feel?  I feel happy.  I feel sad. I feel angry.  I feel exhausted.  I feel insecure.  I feel content.  I feel hot.  I feel dirty.  I feel indifferent. I feel misunderstood.  I feel loved. I feel that a part of me will always yearn for this place.  These moments in time.

I tried my best to explain that I was happy. I was crying because I AM happy.  They made me happy.  I was so lucky because I got to teach them.  Not many other volunteers get to do that. I was so blessed.  I told them I would miss them so much because I loved them so much.  All of them.  My first students.  They helped make my service what it was.  What it still is.

Then I asked them about their future.  Told them to stay in school. Go to university. And always feel free to contact me.

Then it was picture time.




My oun, Kull


Joking about space..


Puok Buddhism School, Puok, Siem Reap, Cambodia

My bond with these boys is something I never expected when I joined the Peace Corps.  I respect them, and they respect me.  But we laugh and play and joke and have fun.  I know the lines not to cross, but most of the other ones are blurred.  I’m lucky that way. They let me into their world.  Showed me that some of them are just like most other adolescent boys.  They just know discipline a bit better and have less freedoms.  But we treated one another as a person, not a title.  I wasn’t seen as a threat to a way of living, but a hope for a brighter future.

Saying goodbye was hard. I hate goodbyes.  Which is why I am dreading what’s coming in the next 6 months.  Word of warning: I will be an emotional wreck.



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So I think we have decided I am not the best blogger. I tried this back in high school (I think I had a Xanga or something…NO I had livejournal!!! wow Beth you know what I’m talking about right?) Anyways….where was I…OH YAH! Cambodia. If you REALLY want to know whats going on with me on a day to day basis, Facebook is your best bet. I post a status on there daily with a summary or fun event of the day. So its either that or talk to my Mom. As she pretty much knows everything thats going on here too.

SO here is what has been going on lately:

-November was an awesome month full of a lot of fun projects. The first was a workshop called Plan Your Future with the Career Advisory Service of the Royal University of Phnom Penh. They are an awesome bunch of students from the university who come and talk to high school students about different careers they can do and also how to get different scholarships. I also included my monks of course, because sometimes they get the short end of the stick when it comes to scholarships and aren’t in the know. I had about 12 monks attend (all my students from the Buddhism school) and about 45 students from Puok High School, all grade 12. I was very proud of them.



-I finished my first mural! Well technically, my English club students and I (along with my FABULOUS counterpart) finished the mural. It is the English alphabet and it is quite amazing. I am so proud of all my students for completing this. I will do a blog post about this (I promise!) with details and photos. For now, you can view the photos here. *Big shoutout to my parents for helping me fund this project*

-I went on a field trip with my monks to a far away land called SreyNoi, which is about 100km from my home. We went there for a Kathen ceremony at the Wat because the people there could not afford to throw their own ceremony.  Usually private Kathen ceremonies can run up to $1000. However, it raises a lot of money for the Wat itself. SreyNoi is a very poor area of Siem Reap but we were met with a very warm reception and lines of school children. While the monks did their thing, I played with the kids and tried to teach some basic English and sing songs. The people were fascinated by me. Clearly most foreigners don’t make it up this far north. You can view all those pictures, along with a summary of what Kathen is, here.

The monks and I in Srey Noi

The monks and I in Srey Noi

-I am planning a Christmas presentation/party at the American Corner at the University of Southeast Asia in Siem Reap. I did this last year and it was a lot of fun.

-It’s WEDDING SEASON! Which means I have been going to weddings galore! Weddings in Cambodia are very different from weddings in the States. Too much to talk about here, but to sum it up, it is usually 2-3 days long with people being invited to specific parts of the wedding and ending in one big reception/party at the end which can cost up to $50,000 if you are wealthier. So far this year I have personally received invitations to 4 weddings and have been a guest with a friend of mine to 3 others (one of which was at Angkor Wat!)


My co-teacher Seng Heim and I

-My baby host niece Gigi is 4 months old and growing more and more every day. I love her so much and am so lucky I get to be here to see her grow for the next 8 months. Image

-Speaking of 8 months….that is about how long I have left! Our COS (Close of Service) conference is scheduled for May 5 with the tentative COS date of August 6. WOW!!! Time flies.

-This holiday season is still exciting for me. As much as I miss home and spending time with my family, my Khmer family knows how important Christmas is to me and are excited right along with me. I am buying presents for them and we are having my favorite meal for Christmas dinner: goa lueng phnom (Cow climbs the mountain). I am also lucky to have such a loving family back home who send me Christmas goodies every year (thanks Nana and Mommy). Yes, those Christmas cookies were gone within a week!Image

-The past week has been COLD! Really. For Cambodia, anything below 80 is cold. But the nights have it around 61 F and the days around 77 F. People are wearing jackets, big coats, beanies, socks with sandals (including myself), kromahs, pants, and even blankets. I haven’t had to use my fan in a while, and for me that is saying something. I have had to wear a jacket for the past 4 days. Our safety and security officer even mentioned that this might be the coldest Cambodia has ever been!

-Because of said cold, I was on shower strike as the water was freezing. Today was the day I broke that strike and decided it was best time to wash my hair.

-Last but definitely not least, MY PARENTS WILL JOIN ME IN CAMBODIA IN 2 WEEKS!!! I am beyond excited for this, as I cannot wait to show them my life here in the Kingdom of Wonder. Of course, everyone in my family is excited for this as well. We have a countdown calender and even my teachers mention every day how many days are left. Mom and Dad, you have a warm welcome awaiting you.

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To Gran, With Love

When my siblings and I were younger, my dad would read us bed time stories every night.  They grew with us, from Good Night Moon to the Wizard of Oz, the Chronicles of Narnia to Harry Potter (just to name a few).  However, one of my favorites my Dad would read was called “With Love, From Gran.”   The book was about a boy and his Gran. Whenever she goes somewhere on a trip around the world, she sends him a present, like a kangaroo from Australia. At the end of the book, he gets on final present, his Gran herself.

We always loved this book because we had our very own Gran. My dad’s mother.

A year ago yesterday was the day she passed on.  Thanksgiving Day.  I remember it was during PST III and I was lying in bed at Yeay’s house when my Mom texted me.  I was sad. But I knew she was at peace.

I counted myself lucky that I got to say goodbye in June before I left for Peace Corps. It was a great time and a great trip. Just Dad and I. While I was nervous and anxious for my upcoming trip, I was also sad because I knew I probably wouldn’t get to see her again.  Gran however, was her usual spritely self.  She always had some of the best stories and a quick wit.  A true beauty.  Even at 89, men would flirt with her and ask for her number.  And she would just smile and go about her business.  She was quite the catch.



When I visited her, she made me feel calm. She told me not to worry about her. It was actually she that would worry about me! She would say a prayer for me every night and ask the angels to watch over me on my journey here.  I knew she was proud of me. Of all her children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

I miss you Gran. I miss your smile and your warmth and your love.  We all do. But we know that when your plants bloom, it’s you saying “Hello! With love, from Gran.”

Gran and I, June 2012

Gran and I, June 2012

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A friend’s perspective

My good friend and fellow PCV Evan is an English teacher in Kampot province. I read his blog regularly and his words truly encapsulate what Cambodia is really like. He can create the world for you. I wanted to share his words with you all so you can see what I cannot put into words so eloquently.

Please take a look at his blog here and one of my favorite posts here.


A snapshot of Evan and I in Bangkok

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One Year of Service: A Reflection

As of yesterday, September 10, I have been at my permanent site for a year.  This is when I consider my service to have really started.  When I embarked on an even grander adventure in a new village and a new world completely alone.

I remember when my previous host mother picked me up in her SUV from the guesthouse in Siem Reap.  She seemed timid but nice.  As we drove towards my new home, I cried.  I was so scared.  I was alone for the first time in my life. There were no more Peace Corps volunteers around me.  No one (at the moment) who spoke English.  No one’s house I could ride my bike to and chat about my anxieties and fears.  No one who could understand me.

My family was thousands of miles away. But I wasn’t homesick.  I yearned for my new friends.  I yearned for the life of training. For my Yeay and host brothers.  For the familiar.

I hate change.  Most people in my life know this (especially my mother who has gone through pretty much every major change in my life with me).  I get anxious, lonely, and scared.  Very scared.  I don’t like not having a routine.  It’s not the whole ‘I don’t know what going to happen in the future’ thing.  I get that.  But not having a planned routine for the next 2 years of my life scared the crap out of me.  I’ve never had to deal with it before.  Especially alone.

Thank God for my Peace Corps friends and Cellcard. While I was alone physically, I knew that my friends were only a cheap-ish phone call away.  But boy, did I spend a lot of money on phone calls the first 2 weeks or so.  I called my best Texas PCV Andrew at least twice a day.  I’m pretty sure I called my friend Laura bawling at least once a day.  Many of my friends were called and they were all there for me. But I knew I couldn’t be on the phone forever.  I had to meet the people around me and gain new local friends all over again.

I cried almost every day for the first 4 days.  Then gradually, it stopped.  I saw this as a victory.  I was slowly getting used to my new life.  I was extremely lucky and blessed to meet one of my co-teachers on the first day.  By the second day, I was teaching monks and still am to this day.  It is one of the highlights of my service and probably of my life.

While I didn’t fit in with my host family very well, I found a new family to spend time with.  It could only be by God’s Grace that I met my new host-mother and current host family.  When I moved in December, I knew it was one of the best decisions I’ve made in Peace Corps. They made me stable and able to have a solid foundation.  They are my rock.  I know no matter what happens during the day and out in the world, I have a place to always call home.

My country director, Penny, told us during our training that sometimes people ask why Peace Corps is 2 years and not 1.  It is because 1 year is not enough.  It is not enough time to do all things you want to do and fully understand not only the people around you, but who you are as a volunteer.  Looking back, I couldn’t agree more.  As Penny put it we are “arrogantly ignorant.” My provincial mate Meghan put it well, ‘We think we know everything and yet simultaneously we are aware that we know next to nothing.’

I won’t lie. This year has not been easy.  I have had many ups and downs emotionally, physically (you can see list of injuries here), mentally, professionally, and spiritually.  I have been hit the hardest I ever have in my life.  I have seen projects not go the way I wanted.  Others have succeeded where I haven’t.  I have been so frustrated by this language. I have been ignored and sneered at.   Embarrassed and on the brink of tears in a classroom.  Poked, pinched, and prodded; grabbed and pushed.  I am constantly chafed every single day how big and fat I am.  That I eat too much.  That I eat too little.  That I sweat all the time.  That it is different here. Every. Single. Day.  I am judged. And it will probably never stop.

But I deal with it. Because the highs are so much higher than the lows could ever be.

I have been blessed to survive and thrive in a new culture.  Words can’t even explain the joy at being included in the holidays and festivities and being treated as just another Khmer daughter. I learn and experience something new almost every day.  I make children and students smile every day.  I have made so many new friends and colleagues.  Sitting and talking over a coke with people at the market can make a bad day great. I have been embraced by a community that was completely foreign to me a year ago.  I have seen projects succeed and push forward.  It is a wonderful feeling to ride through town and have students smile and wave and say Hello.  To have their attention and respect.  It is an even better feeling when you go to the school and have not just your co-teachers, but teachers who don’t even know English come up to you, surround you, smile, say Hello, and tell you they’ve missed you.  I’m so happy to have a family that loves and cares about me enough to buy my favorite foods (and beer) when I am unhappy or have had a terrible day.  To know that I make a difference just by being present makes it all worth it.

Where it all began.

Where it all began.

And now I look forward.  To the next year.  Year 2.  Hoping I can make it even better than the first and not only do a bit more good in this world but inspire others to as well.

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Hello! Are you still there? It has been forever I know! 

I have been to America and back and it is officially summer time in Cambodia. School is out and the last of the 12th grade testing is completed.  School will resume once again in October.

I returned to Cambodia full of gifts for my host family which were greatly appreciated. Thank you Dekat/Kugelmann family!

However I also returned with a sinus infection that seemed to last forever. On the third day it still had not gone away.  So my Mai suggested coining or “go-kjal” which is said to alleviate illness of many kinds in Khmer culture. Coining in Chinese means “scrape sand” as in to “scrape away the disease” as it escapes through the skin from the rubbing.  The method used in Khmer culture is rubbing oil on the skin and then scraping a coin against it multiple times.

I have seen this done twice. Once my host mother did it to her friend who has having very bad stomach issues (and ended up going to the hospital) and a second time my brother-in-law’s mother was doing it to him as a hangover cure as he had drank WAY too much just a few hours prior.

Mai used an old Khmer coin from the time of Pol Pot on me. It only hurt a little around my shoulders where my skin is thinner.  It was not that unpleasant and looks worse than it really feels.  It did not leave any bruising and I had marks for a few days after.




Up close

Yes I know it looks painful, but when in Cambodia, do as the Cambodians do!

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Easy Rider

I was so proud of myself yesterday. I felt like a real cowgirl!
So we have the two new cows. A mommy and her baby girl. The baby (which isn’t really a baby) is a lot fatter than her mom so she was more expensive. Cows in Cambodia are usually pretty skinny. I led the mom back to eat near our house and the baby naturally follows her. We have some sort of cow food they eat the mom went to town. The baby still drinks her moms milk and eats grass. She is afraid of me so she wouldn’t go near me while the mother was eating. After that, Mai helped me light a fire for the cows, as it gets to cool at night for them.
I also figured out why we have them. They are going to be moved to our new land in Sreynoi, which is 100km away. That is where Mai was the past two weeks and where she and Pa go every now and then. All day today they were there. I told them I want to go and see the land sometime. It is a very poor area and apparently very hot. I don’t know what we will do with the land. I think they bought it as an investment/insurance. As you might have seen in my friend Kirk’s blog, most families do not always have cash in case of emergency or insurance. So if anything happens, they can always sell the land and the cows. Also, with Cambodia’s economy steadily growing, hopefully one day the land will be worth more and they can sell it. Land around Puok is very expensive and while we have a lot of property around our house, we do not have enough land to raise cows. And all the land around us is already rice paddies or highway.
We did buy the cows from Pa’s sister, who is a lot poorer than our family. So at least the money stayed in the family.  Pa’s sister is very nice. She is mother to  my host cousin Sunny who is a good friend of mine, and to the twin girls Rose and Rorng who I teach at school.  She also has 6 other grown children but I do not know them.
While my family is middle class and don’t have money worries, they are not wealthy by any means and bad luck can still turn their life upside down. Luckily, my rent helps. With the money I give every month, the family saved it and were able to buy Pisey, my 23 yr old sister, a new moto. This is great because it not only helps her, but the whole family. We originally had 3 motos: my older brother Viat’s, Pisey’s old one from before she went to college, and my older sister Ratha’s. Mai and Pa did not have them because they have the car(s). Now in my town, you don’t drive your car around. Its pointless and would take too much time. I wouldn’t even want to drive a car just down the street. You just hop on your moto (or bike in my case) and go. In order to buy a car, Ratha and her husband sold their moto for the down payment. So now we were down to two motos. Viat’s moto is old and some of the plastic has come off. Looks ghetto. But it rides well. With Mai riding it to Sreynoi the last two weeks, we were down to 1 moto. Pisey’s old one. It is in good shape, but the push start on it no longer works, so you have to kick start it which can be a pain. I even tried to help Amara, my younger sister, kick start it and I couldn’t. You have to do it a few times and be strong. Anyways, this was a problem for people who needed to run errands or go hang out with friends. So when I came back from Siem Reap this past weekend, I saw that Pisey now had a moto. So now all is well and people can come and go easily.
My students are all taking their semester exams this week (yes we are still in school) so I am not teaching this week.
Today I went on a nice scenic bike ride. At 2pm. Not the smartest idea. The Cambodian sun can be deadly, and not more so than between noon and 3pm. This is the time when many Cambodians are taking naps, lounging in hammocks, or staying in the shade. I decided to exercise in it. Yes, there goes the crazy barang down the open road in mid day. It was nice though because I got to use my new camelbak (courtesy of my mommy in America) and I loved it. Of course I got the strangest looks while sucking on the spout while riding. My Mai always calls me “baby” when she seems me sucking on the camelbak water bottles and this was no exception.
Sadly, the sun won in the end as is proven by the headache that I still have.
Drink more water kids!
***19 days til I am back in the Lone Star State for a visit***
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Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to me! Well….that was about 2 weeks ago now (May 29th for anyone that missed it).

And it was wonderful!

Birthdays are not typically celebrated in Cambodia, but are becoming more and more popular with the younger generations. Usually Khmer New Year is one giant birthday, Christmas, New Year extravaganza all rolled into one. This is when many people say they are one year older. Everyone grows up on the same day. Fun! But not really.

Growing up in America with a family that always makes everyone’s birthday special has spoiled me.  I associate the day not just with me, but with my the wonderful woman who gave birth to me and created my birthday, my Mom. I have spent almost every birthday (except my 21st) with her and the day just wouldn’t be the same without her. She always lets me know how much of a gift I was to her that early morning (12:04am) and still am today. I really missed my Mom on my birthday. It was harder than Christmas.

That being said, she still made her presence known in the form of Facebook and text messages, 2 care packages, and best of all, a party. The days leading up to my birthday were exciting because my students were excited for me. They like birthdays and celebrate the way Westerners do. My family was excited because I was going to be having a small party with them as well.  Since I am a world away, I didn’t expect my family in America to get me any presents.  All I asked for was a small budget so I could have a small party with my Khmer family. Spending time all together with them makes me so happy here.  My family happily obliged and the planning started. It grew to be a little more than I had originally thought but it was worth it.

On the actual day of my birthday, Wednesday, many students from my 10J class showered me with small gifts. I was very surprised and very touched.  Then, before class started, they all sang Happy Birthday to me. I almost cried it was so sweet and I couldn’t stop smiling. Later in the afternoon, my English club students gave me a few gifts and also sang Happy Birthday. Again, I was so happy. That night was a bit more difficult since I was thinking of family back home.  However, I was excited for the party the next day.


Presents from my students

Thursday is when many others thought it was my birthday because the party was on that day, so the celebration continued.  One of my co-teachers let me play games with the students all class.  Another had to leave early because his son was sick, so I played games with that class as well. In the afternoon, the monks all had huge smiles on their faces and repeatedly wished me a Happy Birthday. I wish I could have hugged them all! Once back home, my host-parents and I drove the 20 minutes to Siem Reap to Lucky Mall to buy items for the party. Top of the list: fried chicken. Let tell you, Cambodians LOVE their fried chicken. Seriously! They can’t get enough. Next: a cake. I couldn’t find one that wouldn’t melt so I had to do with a small cheesecake. Stick a candle on it and it would still work though! Then chips, cookies, some coke, Samurai and Freshy and we were good to go. 

I had invited my English club students and Girls club students to attend the party. As soon as 6pm rolled around, all my students showed up ready to chow down.  I had planned to save half the chicken for them and half for my friends and family later on.  Well once everyone sat down to eat, it turned into a feeding frenzy! It was so much fun. Many students brought me gifts (little hair accessories, dolls, bracelets and necklaces) and hand written notes. I was so touched. A few of my co-teachers showed up as well, also bearing gifts.  They were so excited to share my day with me and very touched I had thrown a party and invited them. 


My students having fun and eating


Fun times


No, they aren’t drinking beer! Freshy all around!

As the students slowly left when it got dark, I bought some beer for the family and we sat down to eat.  Some of my friends from the village came as well bringing joke presents along.  It was a great time.

When I went in my room to take a minute to breathe, the women in my family followed me. I turned around to find that each one of them held out a gift for me.  I almost cried. This was not normal tradition and I never asked for anything from them.  All I wanted to do was be with them and make them happy.  My Mai, 3 host sisters, my 7 yr old niece, and even my older host brother all gave me beautiful gifts that I will treasure forever.


Some presents from my host family

My first birthday in Cambodia was a rousing success and a memory that I will always carry in my heart.

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Lost in Translation

This evening I was sitting outside and it was getting dark. My host-sister runs out and says (in English) “Kateri, open fire, open fire!” I don’t understand at first and run inside thinking there is a fire in the house or somewhere in the back. I don’t smell anything or see anything as I run in the house. My sister follows me with a confused look on her face. I said (in English first because I couldn’t think then in Khmer) “Where is the fire?” She then points the light switch.

Turns out my host-sister just wanted me to turn on the light for outside since it was getting dark.

In Khmer the word “baouk” translates to ‘open’ and ‘turn on’ with the word ‘but’ translating to ‘close’ and ‘turn off’. The word ‘pleurng’ translates to ‘light’ and ‘fire’ or any substance that has a burning effect. You can see how the phrase “baouk pleurng” can get lost in translation. When she said “open fire” she meant “turn on the light”. I should have assumed this. However seeing a moto accident this morning where a guy gets his arm cut off can fray your nerves a little bit for the rest of the day.

Also want to apologize for lack of updates. Many fun things have been happening and I plan to share them with you soon. Until next time, lia-howee!


Quick update edit—I have also recently tried the dreaded durian fruit and from afar, I enjoy the smell. It is a familiar smell that now reminds me of living here. Up close, it smells nasty. As far as taste goes, its not as bad as people think. I would try it again but its not on my top lists of favorites.

I have also tried liver! Which when grilled, I LOVE!!!!

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My Mai


Mai wrote down this date for me today. Today’s date. 38 years ago. That is when the Khmer Rouge marched into Siem Reap. That is the last time she saw her parents and her two brothers. That is the day her world was torn apart and her life was changed forever. She was 13.

I have written about her story in a previous post, but I wanted to dedicate today to my host-mom, my Mai. In my life, I never thought I would meet another person as strong, caring, loving, devoted, and selfless as my own mother. (I’m sure most of us think this of our own mothers). Yet here in Cambodia, I have found someone who comes close to my mother’s equivalent in the form of my host-mother.

My host mom is more than I could ever ask for in a surrogate mother.  Half way across the globe, I feel just as loved as if I was home with my family in the States.  My host mom loves me as her own.

So this is for her. Just an inside look into my life with Mai.


We spend a lot of time together. We go everywhere together.

She is always taking care of me.

She is always feeding me and making sure I’m not hungry.  She feeds me all my meals even though she doesn’t have to.

We always go to weddings, parties, and funerals together, sometimes just the two of us. She always makes sure to include me in all events.

She lets me borrow money and doesn’t expect me to pay her back (I always do of course).

She is always willing to help me and drive to Siem Reap at a moments notice.

She is always interested in what I am doing.

We don’t have any walls between us anymore, however she doesn’t cross any boundries. (i.e. she helped change me when I had my accident and was half naked and didn’t bat an eyelash).

She holds my hand and strokes my leg when I am in pain and getting shots.

She comforts me when I am sad.

When I cry because of a boy, she sits down with me and comforts me and then we just sit in silence. Then she takes me to her friend’s house where we just chill and get away from it all.

She tells me there are more fish in the sea.

When I go away for the weekend, she tells me she will miss me.  She calls to make sure I arrive at my destination safely. Always. If it is more than three days, she will call to say hi and tell me she misses me.

When we are an event and I don’t know people or know the customs very well, she always makes sure I am with her and that everyone knows I am her daughter.  She hooks her arm with mine. She holds my hand. She makes sure I am ok.

She watches me cook so she can cook my favorite foods.

She buys my favorite foods.

She lets me sit in the front of the car when it is really hot so I can have the AC right on me.

She is slowly learning bits of English.

She asks about my friends and remembers their names.  She wants to know how they are and invites them over.

She takes an interest in my life.

She loves me. And I love her.  She will forever be my second mother. She doesn’t replace my mom back home. She is in a category all her own.  Because she doesn’t have to love me.  She chose to.


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