“The key to change... is to let go of fear.” Rosanne Cash
1. Profesional: Let's face it. Having pursued a Master's degree doesn't make you fearless about teaching. Being a student is so "easy". Being a teacher, is a completely different thing.
My role has completely changed; from being a student my whole life, now I am a teacher. From being a follower, now I am a leader. Now there are students who look up to me, who admire me and who believe what I say and notice the little acts that I do.
From being a full time student, to a full time teacher. But the EXTRA-ordinary thing is that I am not a teacher in my typical surrounding: I am a teacher in a foreign country!(topic no.2).
I teach from Pre-K to 12th graders. How much fun it is!! If they would know how much do they teach me! What I enjoy the most, is the opportunity of sharing with all kinds of ages. All of them challenge me in different ways. I love them, and I know they love me. There is no more fear.
2.Cultural/Social: Moving to US was a little scary, but it was "America", Western Culture... But...the other side of the world?Asia? SouthAsia?Cambodia?? No way...it was a little scary...may be a lot!!
The culture that surrounds me is so different. Riels, instead of dollars. Khmer instead of Spanish, Khmers (cambodians) instead of latinos and/or Americans,Tuks tuks instead of taxis, bycicle instead of a car. Unexpected things like an elephant walking down the street while walking home are a plus!!
Going to the market is still an adventure. Annie and I ride our bycicles, since we can't help our obvious physical differences, glances and "Hellos" are part of our everyday trips. There is NO khmer that does not stare at us and say "hello" everytime we pass by. But getting to the market don't make things better. Taking pictures make them laugh, and my "curly-voluminous" hair make them wonder if my hair is "real". So far, Annie and I can understand the numbers and can pay without overpaying(as long as we believe). Going to the market also makes me very happy that I am a vegetarian :P
In the other hand, in my regular daily life there is no Spanish anymore: English has become my first communication language and Khmer has become "the language to learn". So far my Khmer vocabulary has increased by almost 20 words, which I write in my personal "Spanish-spelling". My favorites are: soksabai (how are you?), chomrrriang(music), akuncharai, (thank you very much), borisom (Holy), preJesu (Jesus), prochiechon (people). Learning a new language has made me wonder how did I learned a second language and it reminded me how hard it is!
Furthermore knowing about their history and getting to know the people, help me to understand and feel more empathy with them. Stories from past king rulers and great civilizations, a horrible genocide, a different religious background, help me to understand better this new culture that I'm living in.
In the other hand, there are some things thet remind me so much of home. The extremeley hot weather and humidity, the kindness of people and of course, eating rice every day!!
I can't really separate my spiritual life from all the other areas. My spiritual life is influenced by the others and vice-versa. I know that no matter where I am, God always want to teach me something and take me a step further. For this stage, he chose Cambodia. Two years ago I was in Andrews, which meant I was in a completely "SDA-Christian surrounding" environment. I was surrendered by great and varied Adventist churches, Vesper programs, and most of all by a bunch of amazing friends which love God the same way as I do. Now, I am surrounded by a Buddhist culture, with little altars with incense everywhere, Buddhist monks walking in the streets and pagodas everywhere.
Here there is a big Adventist church, and many other groups that meet in home-churches. Having the service in Khmer with a translation of the sermon in English, along with the hot weather, makes it a little hard to focus, but I'm still thrilled by the fact of being part of their worship. The big church is exciting cause I get to see must of my students, from which I get a lot of "Happy Sabbath tee-cha!".
The home-churches are always exciting. We go to a different one every Sabbath. These are all in Khmer and if we take part in it, someone translates for us. Also, I like the fact that we have to take off our shoes, as to show respect.