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Thursday, January 5

Thursday, January 5
I don’t think I wrote about our English class on Wednesday evening. We teach English on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings from 7:30-8:45. We have broken up the classes into two groups. Darcy has taken the larger group who are pre-intermediate in their English skills and I have about 5-6 students who are more advanced in their English skills.

We have only the curriculum for the pre-intermediate course and I have to borrow a student’s book when I teach class. In my Wednesday class we worked on a writing assignment. They were practicing writing a paragraph and creating a topic sentence and then using examples and extended examples to support their topic sentence. When English isn’t your first language, this can be challenging. Our second exercise was to write a paragraph explaining a proverb or common saying in their country to someone who doesn’t understand or is just learning the language. I explained what it means when someone says “don’t count your chickens before they hatch” and “people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones”. I learned one of theirs. It is “the filling of the barrel begins with one palm leaf” or something to that effect. I’m pretty sure it is equivalent to “a journey of a thousand steps begins with the first one”.

In a regular week we will also lead a daily discussion of an article from one of daily papers on Thursday and Friday evenings. Tonight, however, everyone is busily cleaning every nook and cranny as Alan Lightman is arriving tomorrow. We will have the discussion class on Friday evening from 730-830. Two students are responsible for choosing one article to read and present to the class. They talk about the writing of the article and whether the reporter was biased. If so, did the reporter include facts to back up the premise? Did the reporter speculate or include opinions without facts? And finally what is the impact to Cambodia. This should be a very interesting class and I look forward to getting these going.

Thursday found us spending the whole day at the dorm, only this time I was awake all day and spent much of the day interacting with as many girls as possible. We washed clothes first thing in the morning; yes, hand washed clothes. Unlike at home where I have the luxury of waiting until I’m threatened with the image of having to dig out those grannie panties hidden in the back of my underwear drawer, here, I am the washing machine and I didn’t bring any grannie panties because, well, face it. No one wants to see that.

Mealtime is an event from the planning, the market, the preparation, and finally, the actual consumption. The activities of this event spans the entire day as Darcy and I discovered. We spent 2.5 hours in the kitchen on a mat peeling away the skin of coarse stalky vegetables. I would tell you the name of the vegetable but I’m still trying to figure out what it is. Are you wondering why it took 2.5 hours? Remember we were prepping enough food to feed about 50 people and we had to peel the hard skin of the long stalky vegetable for they use every part of a vegetable if possible. The stalk reminded me of a brussel sprout stalk after you pick off the brussel sprouts. I used the knife to peel the hard outer skin to uncover the soft inside. This would later be sliced and added to the dish. The green leafy vegetable looked similar to kale without the curly edge to the leaf. We slice the green leaf off the stalk and peeled the outer skin from the stalk and added it to the other ingredients. This effort went into making a tasty meal of very thin rice noodles, sautéed green leaves and the slice stalky vegetables.

We arranged with Len (pronounced Line) to walk to the market with her on Friday morning to shop for the next three meals. Each student in the dorm has rotating chores. One shops, another prepares the food, another sweeps the floors, and so on… it supports the building of a family and team community. The girls do not know one another before being accepted to live in the Harpswell Foundation dormitory. They apply and are selected based on their capacity and potential for truly being the next women leaders of Cambodia. They are smart, ambitious, kind and all are between the ages of 17-22.

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