By Carolyn Canetti
250 words cannot describe how life is in Siem Reap, Cambodia. But here goes.
The first month was a dream. The second month was hard. The third month was a flood. The fourth month I began to understand my students, colleagues, Khmer culture and start projects. The fifth month were holidays. The sixth month—this is home.
Cambodia is a beautiful country. At first, I thought it was really flat. Now, I see the hills. The stars are bright. I see Jupiter and Saturn every evening. It’s balmy and breezy and perpetually July. In Siem Reap, people are constantly coming and going—tourists, expats, volunteers. There is always something being built— just on my street I’ve seen buildings go down and go up in a matter of weeks. There is prostitution and corruption, but there’s also hope.
I work at a school with 24 of the brightest, most energetic students. They are the reason I call Cambodia home. They live off dollars per week, in shacks with 10 other people and come from families of divorce and some of abuse.
These “former street-working kids” come to school looking beautiful, with endless laughter and smiles. They live with nothing and they still offer me snacks and hair bows.
I’m here for less than a year, what they learn from me I can’t say.
But what I learn from them I will keep forever, and that is to be generous and to live every day with a smile.