Monday, June 22, 2009

The Highlight of the Trip!

These are reflections and represent our thoughts on this day representing why we are here - a collective post. Check out all of the images and video here - we will add a ton more!

We started today at the ACIS school, greeted by appreciative students and teachers that were expecting us, and glad to see us. They were asked to line up in straight rows, and they did it, outside on the school grounds. We spent time in classrooms either playing games or, in my case, Chuck and I taught an origami and math lesson. Imagine, even though history rules, today Chuck helped me with a math lesson. We folded paper, counted cubes, found some number patterns. There were 50 kids in each classroom. The temperature was really hot, as has been the case all during this trip. But, students listened and participated and smiled and made us feel like we were “gods.” After two class periods of about an hour each, with teachers (us) switching classrooms, we passed out the gifts we brought. Each student got a book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer Stone, a USM pencil, a small packet of paper and other school supplies, and some candy. I did get a video of a young boy chewing on a tootsie roll. He was thoroughly engaged in the act of chewing.

(Becky) Dolores and I played games with two classes: Simon Says, Charades, Hangman, and “I Spy with My Little Eye”. The students were shy, at first, then quickly got involved with the playfulness of the game – whispering, giggling, and readily volunteering answers to the questions and participating in the games. All were anxious to learn and very engaged. When we gave them their gifts, each student thanked us, and many began experimenting with the scratch “magic” paper before we exited the room.(…one student scratched, “ I love you) Our small gifts were so appreciated. The children once again were the teachers, and we were reminded that when we serve others, both sides benefit.

We had the opportunity to visit the ACIS school, the orphanage for children of parents with HIV and the Bright Future Children Center. At all sites, the children were respectful, yet smiley . The teachers were paired up to present lessons to students in class sizes of 30. Given little time to prepare, we played games including 7-Up, Simon Says, and“Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”. Even though some of the students at ACIS were 17 years old, they were delighted to learn the American games. It was hotter than blazes and the teachers were rehydrated with water. After students sang their appreciation with the Cambodian National Anthem, we gave then simple gifts of books and candy.

We ate at a floating restaurant and took another ride in a boat on the Mekong. I wondered what the chances were that we could get stranded on the Mekong again, but we did have to turn back after a thunder storm approached us.

The afternoon proved to be more heart wrenching. Kids, again, stole the show. We visited the Bright Future Children Center. First we saw kids who have lost one or both parents through HIV. All of us would agree, our hearts were tugged by these kids. I will let others explain more in detail. We played games-duck duck goose, hocky pokey, simon says, heads shoulders knees and toes, and Paul did a juggling demonstration. The kids were very appreciative and fast learners. They learned the games and were great sports. After that we visited students who were selected for attendance at a high level of instruction, the brightest of the bright. We gave gifts again and again, even though they were older students (teenagers) they were appreciative and made us feel like kings. It is difficult to put it into words, but we all left with strong feeling about how special and valuable these children are and how they moved us in ways that we will never forget.

Connections were made with the staff and students at the school. By the time I (Becky) got to the hotel, one of the high school students had already sent me an email! Life – long friends and correspondences are two of the things I look forward to this coming year. Thoughts abound as to whether it would be possible to return to visit this group of promising young adults and children.

(Joe) This is my reflection: Why did we come to Southeast Asia? We found the answer today in the kids we met. They were priceless. Among all the beautiful temples and buildings, and the tragic history of the people in Vietnam and Cambodia, today showed me what is truly the most valuable resource that any culture has, its children. Hopefully, although it will be difficult, the video will partially explain the where the strong feelings come from. But, we all left with those strong feelings about the value of the young people here, and anywhere.

(Chuck) We are waiting for our plane to Siem Riep to see Angkor Wat, so we will need to post more later if we have time. Bottom line - our visits to the school were the highlight of the trip for all of us. We have already received emails from some of the students, and we plan to continue a relatinship with the ACIS school, the orphanage, and the Bright Future Children Center. There is so much we can do together, even halfway across the globe.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful blogging, guys! This sounds like a life-changing experience for you all. I really appreciate the photos, video and your daily reflections. Thanks for sharing. If it's any consolation, it's in the 90's here too today. Safe travels!