Why we like living and working in the ‘Kingdom of Wonder’.
Without the breadth of choice, which could be viewed as a frustration, there also comes a sense of contentment and satisfaction.
Circumstances force us to live simply and prioritise those things that are most important to us.
Cambodians are caring and friendly people. While I still have to use the phrase ‘mun jul dtee’(I don’t understand) all too often, locals will patiently push on, using their little English, and lots of gesturing and body language to work to a solution.
Our work is very rewarding. Sadly, at home, many young people take their education for granted. Although working with expat children, they understand that their parents have made a significant sacrifice to provide them with an education and middle and high school students don’t need to look too far to see that they have access to something that many local children do not. This means that they express gratitude.Their parents do also. Only this morning one of the dads stopped and just said ‘thank you for what you do’. Staff also share a common calling and fully support the vision of the school. They are not here for a job, but to offer a service that supports expat workers to do their good work here in Cambodia.
Community is core. We enjoy a diverse range of connections and friendships. As I looked around at church, westerners are clearly in the minority. Our social life is much more diverse as we spend time with people from many nations and age groups and I am sure we are much richer for it. We get to share in the lives of Cambodian people as we work alongside them.
We are presented with new challenges. We work with limited resources to provide an excellent education for the young people here. In life we daily navigate chaotic traffic, new foods, draining weather conditions, challenges to the senses and ‘tales of the unexpected’. Challenges build creativity, tenacity, resilience, persistence and a ‘get up, dress up, and show up’ can do approach, something we may not have always had to draw on in the comfort of Adelaide.
Our communication with friends and loved ones becomes very intentional. Having your nearest and dearest close by is wonderful (and much missed), but may lead us to become complacent in our contact. We now need to think of time differences and plan when we can speak. While we miss all that ‘by the by’ communication, we treasure hearing updates from home.
We only need a wardrobe for one season. While there are temperature variations, most of the year has ranged from 26 degrees upwards and daytime temps are low 30’s upwards – mostly upwards. Therefore, for us, it’s a summer wardrobe all year around. Side note: we are heading into cool season here which is a lovely respite. Amazing when 30 degrees and a small breeze becomes such a blessing.
Mostly it is because we have a clear sense that we are making a contribution and can offer skills that are needed by the school. So for now, Cambodia will continue to be our home.
Secondary School Principal – HOPE School