Determination to Learn

Interviewed by the police (again)

Last week, I said the interview with the police was quick and easy. It turned out that it wasn’t the end of the story.  I was ‘summoned’ by the police again. They asked me to present my visa and passport again to them. When I arrived at the police station, I presented my passport to them immediately.  I thought they only needed to have a look at it.  In the end, they asked me for a photocopy of the passport and a visa so that they could keep them as a record and I explained to them they had already got all the copies. Well, with their broken English and my very limited knowledge of Khmer, we couldn’t understand each other.  Hence, I called up my host who passed them my documents the week before to talk to them.  After the call, the police jotted down a few of my details in a registration book, took a few photos of me on their mobile phone and said, ‘already.’ (In many places in Cambodia, the word ‘already’ means ‘all done / finished’. It is not Khmer. It is English to them, not to me or to any other English speakers though).

After I left the police station, I had a look at the stores in the little town.  I stopped in front of one of the stores.  The mother said to the kid, ‘say “hello!”.  The kid was very shy and he didn’t say anything. I then said to the kid, ‘jomlipsu!’ which means ‘Hello’ in Khmer (want to learn more Khmer words? Check out my blog here). The kid was so surprised that his eyes and mouth were widely opened!  Lol.  He then greeted me in Khmer.  🙂 I know, it’s so cute!

I was looking for some tea lights for my essential oil which was given to me by a visitor from Hong Kong a few weeks ago.  None of the stores in the village sell them.  They only have candles engraved with the Chinese character ‘marriage’.  It is actually very interesting. They love the Chinese ‘marriage’ ‘design’ a lot and you can see the ‘design’ (if there is any design at all) everywhere, like bed sheets, candles, cloths, buckets etc. I wonder if they know the meaning of that Chinese character.

Speaking of design, people in the villages (in town also) love to wear their pyjamas in the streets. You can see the villagers wearing them on their motorbikes, in churches, in my classes. The thing is they have no idea that they are pyjamas. They even use the top of their long-sleeve pyjamas as a ‘coat’. In contrary, say in Shanghai in China, the Chinese are aware that they are wearing pyjamas walking around in parks and they will proudly tell you ‘yes, we like to wear pyjamas in the streets. This is our culture.’

Determination to learn

The rainy season has begun.  When it rains heavily, there won’t be any electricity or internet in the village. Sometimes, there is power cut even in the city too but it hasn’t affected my internet connection on my mobile phone, yet. (Touch wood)

When I was having a lesson the other day, all of a sudden, there was power cut and then the rainstorm came.  The classroom was very dark. The kids said to me, ‘teacher, it’s too dark. We can’t see!’ Then they all sped to the desks in the middle of the classroom where there was more light.  I really admired their attitude and their eagerness to learn.

‘Teacher, it’s too dark. We can’t see!’
All of their bicycles fell on the ground during the rainstorm. One of the boys was so worried about it that he kept checking his bike.

That’s not the end of the story.

The next day, the rainstorm came at about the same time again.  We were supposed to start at 5pm but the rain was so heavy that even I myself could not leave my house which is within the ‘campus’ (check out my video on Instagram or Facebook). I was looking at the rain worrying about my students.  They usually ride their bicycles, scooters or motorbikes to the school.  At one stage, I was hoping that they wouldn’t come because it’d be too dangerous for them to ride on the road in the storm. When the rain stopped momentarily, I walked out to the school ground.  All I could see was flood.  Having worked in change management for some years, I couldn’t help myself from thinking, ‘this can be improved’. All the management needs to do is to raise the level of the ground by putting some more mud and on top of the mud, small pebbles or stones.  Am I too naïve?  Is this solution too simple?  I am a firm believer that simple solutions can solve complex problems. 

While I was hanging around in the open kitchen (it’s really open), the cook looked at me, signaling that someone was coming for me.  I turned around.  It was like some corny TV drama where the main character saw his/her long lost friend.  Guess who I saw? My students!  I couldn’t stop myself from thanking them over and over again.  After they parked their bicycles, the rainstorm started again.  I shouted to them, ‘quick, quick, quick, run to the classroom!’ I couldn’t stop myself from admiring them for having the determination to learn. Riding a bike in the rain like this for kids below the age of 10 is not easy!  I have so much to learn from them!

Determination plays a crucial part in all of the success stories. My dear students, I wish you all a successful life.  

A real open kitchen on the left 😛
The playground after the rainstorm. You can see that it was still drizzling.

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