Saturday, July 31, 2010

True Life: I am an English teacher.

English was always my best subject in school. Now, please don’t judge this statement off of my blog posts. This things are chalked full of grammatical errors, run on sentences, there is no real structure to my paragraphs, and I will randomly CAPITALIZE everything. So, there you go. But, I promise I loved English and always got A’s.

Let’s take it back a few years as to why English was always my strong suit. I have a mother whose degree is in journalism. Do you know what that does to a kid? Most 6 year olds who throw a fit at a restaurant get taken to the public bathroom for a “spanking”. Most 8 year olds who talk back to their parents get sent to their room with no television. Don’t eat your dinner? Standard punishment would be no desert. Pretty common disciplines. NOT at my house. If I didn’t share my toys, I would have to write an essay about it. Got a note home from my teacher saying I wasn’t “playing well at recess”? Wrote an essay about it. I’m talking this was our MAJOR form disciplining.

I am sure you are thinking, “If it was always your punishment, how could you end up loving it?” Ya, I don’t really know the answer to that question. And honestly, I don’t think my mom even looked at it as punishment. It just went along with her “hippie” style parenting methods. Most mothers were teaching table manners, my mom was letting us finger paint at the dinner table while eating our chicken fingers. Other girls were learning how to braid their own hair and match clothes… I was still wearing my Spice Girls Halloween costumes to school. I don’t even know if she would justify it to the other moms; I think she just wanted to raise me different. So, away with the spankings, and hello to “expressing your feelings on paper.”
Now, as I got older, the essays didn’t stop. The actually came with criteria and she would even grade them. The best was when she got the brilliant idea of sharing them at the dinner table. This would help us work on our public speaking. So, one at a time, my brothers and I would stand up and read our “assignments” aloud. The topics would vary:

Owen’s assignment: Why is it important to NOT lock your sister in the bathroom while she is getting ready for school.
Zac’s topic: Why is it NOT a good idea to zip Owen in a sleeping bag and shove him down the stairs.
Kellye: Do you really think it’s appropriate to wake your brothers up at 5:00 am by belting out the opening number of Les Miserables at the side of their bed?

Whatever the topic was, there was always a main theme to these fun little assignments: “What have you learned from this situation?” And of course, “How will you make sure it doesn’t happen again”

Now, as we got older the public speaking part of the program became much more entertaining. My older brother Zac and I would have a running competition on who could incorporate the BIGGEST vocab words. Our goal was to have it chalked full of huge words so that our parents could literally not understand the speech. I am not sure why. We would spend an extra 30 minutes looking through the thesaurus just to try to win. I looked through the box of papers from our childhood and our papers wouldn’t even make sense. But, I remember feeling so accomplished knowing that my “gaffe” beat his “error of judgment” at the end of the speech. Weird kids. Don’t judge us.

I must admit, this method of parenting really worked. By the end of dinner, we were hugging it out and sometimes shed a few tears. We learned how to communicate effectively and became pretty good at confrontation. And most importantly, learned how necessary a thesaurus is in every day life. ☺

Anyhow, I never had the desire to study English in college, or follow in the footsteps of my mom and become a journalist. I honestly thought all it was good for was journaling and blogging. And I would maybe pass down the discipline to my kids. But I never saw myself using it on a daily basis. Then, I came to Cambodia.
I know I have mentioned that I teach English here. I knew it would be a part of my summer, but I envisioned teaching little kids words like “sun”, “dog”, “and cat”. Maybe using some picture cards and some fun songs. Instead of little kids, I got University students. Instead of words like “cat” and “dog”, I got Level 8 English students whose lessons are on “Irregular Past Participles Ending in –En”.

So, thanks mom. I knew our dinners would come in handy one day ☺


I know it has been years since I have blogged. I will go ahead and plead my case as a disclaimer. Get my excuses out of the way….

1. I don’t have internet
2. Number 1 is a slight lie… I have internet on Saturdays
3. By the time I get online on Saturday and check my Gmail, my endless Facebook notifications, millions of tweets, and hours of skyping family members that have been neglected all week, I am just so worn out that I forget to blog.
So there you go. Mom, go ahead and rebuke me. Dad, I can hear you speaking your infamous “Excuses are like butt holes” quote after reading this disclaimer. Go ahead people, speak it out.

So, there we go. I am in Cambodia. What’s it like? There are so many emotions that are stirred up when I think about explaining what being in this nation is like. Honestly, sometimes it is too much to handle, so I just bust out in a song and dance from the Jungle Book. It’s the strangest thing knowing I am in the middle of the jungle a million miles from home. But, there is no amount of homesickness that a rendition of “Bear Necessities” can’t fix.
I spent 6 hours skyping my family this Saturday. It was fun answering all of their questions about being here. I will give you a run down of my favorite answers to their questions:

1. Why yes, it is hard to not have hot showers.
2. Air conditioning? What is that?
3. No, the toilets DON’T look like the ones in America.
4. No, Dad. They don’t have any “cool old cars” and “no, I rarely see a 1963 Chevy”.
5. Washers and Dryers? OH, you mean buckets and a clothesline. I must have heard you wrong.
6. Yes, it is quite hot here. I sweat through about 2-3 shirts a day. Normal.
7. My favorite dish has definitely been the fried grasshoppers. Or even the chicken heart I found in my soup today.
8. If I could get a care package of ANYTHING, it would be about 100 more bottles of bug spray. Rainy Season in Cambodia=Kellye gets attacked by 1,000 mosquitoes a day.

My comforts have definitely been stripped. I don’t have the things of home that I usually cling to. The basics: My big comfy bed, my room full candles (that smell WAY better than my room of sweat I am living in now), my cell phone, instant access to the internet, a dishwasher, and maybe some homemade strawberry jello that my grandma makes me every week. Just some BASICS, people, THE BASICS. Other comforts: seeing my amazing family everyday, having my grandma fix me every meal, watching TV shows at night with my grandpa, going to my brother’s baseball games, spending the weekends with my dad at the lake, and going to the farm to visit my mom. I never even recognized these things as comforts. It has taken me being here to distinguish what I clung to when I was feeling sad, or needed comfort.

At first, the comforts of daily things being stripped created homesickness, which is funny because I never got homesick as a kid. It was actually the opposite. I would get restless in the summer if I wasn’t attending at LEAST 3 camps. I loved traveling and getting away, and looked forward to spending time away from home. But, being in Cambodia is definitely not like High School Camp in Florida. I don’t have a pretty beach to lie out on, I don’t have food that I recognize, I don’t have my mom there as the “camp photographer”. But know that I have been in a 3rd world country for the beginning of my summer; I can see how the mixture of culture shock, and no comforts can create homesickness.

Okay, hold the phone. Stop feeling sorry for me. What I am trying to get to is the moral of the story, but I see everyone rolling their eyes while I am trying to dramatize how “rough” it is here. So, I’ll move to the moral.
Being here, stripped of comforts, not being able to lean on ANYTHING I am used to when I am feeling emotional has made me lean fully on Jesus. When I am feeling homesick, there is no comfort to fix it, just Jesus. When I am feeling hungry, and I don’t like the bowl of Ramen noodles I am giving for breakfast (it’s Asia people), there is no other comfort, just Jesus. When I am feeling sick because my digestive system has pretty much hated me for the past 4 weeks (I won’t give gruesome details) there is no comfort of a doctor, just Jesus. When I am feeling tired, and just want to go home and crawl into bed, there is not my normal comfort, just Jesus. When I just really want the normalcy of home, I literally CANNOT have it.

My relationship with the Lord changed drastically in Kona. But, I really think I will never be the same after leaving Cambodia. I have realized how blessed I am, how thankful I am for EVERYTHING I own, and how grateful I am for my relationship with the Lord. I have definitely learned a lot more than that just being here, and I will totally include those things in the next post… But I really feel like this is a season of realization for me.