My dad has already written about this. Or at least written an email. The school is in partnership with an NGO called Green Umbrella. It is run by a Buddhist monk named Sokrath. He is very caring. On a walk through the village, he stopped and bought little cracker snacks for the children.
The first day we dropped our stuff at the boarding house we were staying at, then went to the school. As soon as we got out of the car, we heard
We looked up to see all the kids on their way back to their classrooms after lunch, for a nap time. They all looked so cute in their little green and black uniforms, smiling, and waving. After a quick tour of all the buildings (kindergarten and English in one, then 2nd, 3rd, and library in the other. There was a football (soccer) pitch, and a playground. For the 4th graders, they had an outdoor classroom because they were only there for the morning. After that they went to the public school.), we had lunch with the other staff members. It was really wonderful to arrive at this school not sure what to expect, then get such a warm welcome from the students, sit down to a beautiful lunch, then go and play with the kids.
Every day was just about the same. We got up early, and had a tuk-tuk ride to breakfast. The same place we had dinner, and just about the same foods too. Not exactly my cup of tea. Which is kind of a weird saying for me, because I don’t really like tea either. Anyways, I don’t like savory breakfast, so I brought some strawberry biscuits that we had bought before we came. The family lived right by the restauraunt, which is more like some tables, plastic chairs, and a big kitchen and home behind. It is true that grandmas around the world are the same. This one was worried I wasn’t eating enough, so she went inside and got me a loaf of bread. It was very kind. She didn’t speak any English, but every day she came by and either got me more bread, or just smiled and hugged my head.
When we got to the school I would head immediately to the kindergarteners who had English first thing, dad would go to the 4th grade science class, and mom and Porter went back and forth. On our first day, I learned how to count with the kinders. I can count all the way to 29 in Cambodian language. I love Khmer. It’s such a beautiful language. It is very throaty and guttural, which means it is hard to learn. For instance, the word for beautiful is sart, pronounced saa. Wait, there’s more. You need to say it thinking about the correct spelling, otherwise you say it wrong. If you say it incorrect, it means turtle farts. Just kidding. It is not a very beautiful word, on the other hand, the Indonesian beautiful, cantik, is.
During recess Porter raced the boys to the footballs, then out onto the field. On the playground, I taught some girls, kinders and 1st grade, clapping games. Another day mom and I started a game of duck, duck, goose. It was so great watching the squeals, and the smiles, and the laughing, as they called out dok, dok, dok, goo!!! Then they would race around the circle, laughing, and yelling. The last day we were there, I came up with the idea to lift and swing the kinders off the slide onto the ground with a whoop. They absolutely loved it. Soon they were lining up on the slide for their turn. Later, my arms were so sore I could barely move them.
I probably shouldn’t have favorites, but I had 7. I don’t know all their names, so there are only 4 real ones.
- Mesa. She was my absolute favorite. She had curly hair and the cutest smile. She made the class laugh a lot. This is when I wish I could understand Khmer.
- Sokchan. He is mom’s favorite. He has the chubbiest cheeks, and a cuter smile even than Mesa.
- Efor. She was more quiet, but I loved her. She kept saying my name to get my attention. AAAHHHHH!
- Piscey. She was the smallest, and an equal smile to Sokchan on the cuteness scale.
- Piggy. I only call her that because she wore pigtails a lot. She loved my hand clap games.
- Damion. He looks like a Damion to me. He was the “bad boy” didn’t smile a lot, made some jokes, and I could tell that when he got older he would be very handsome.
- Thomas. On our first day, he was wearing a Thomas the train outfit instead of the uniform. He was just really cute.
Mesa reminded me most of myself. She was really stubborn, and kind of wanted me all to herself. All the kids were excited about visiters, and liked having us there. I don’t think that we made much of an impact on them, but they did on us. This school will stay forever in my memory, and my heart.
I miss Cambodia. I miss the way the girls fought to hold my hands at the school, I miss the language, and I miss the people. They were all so kind, loving, and giving. Everyone should be like that. Next time when you are complaining to your parents about how slow your iPhone 4 is, or when you don’t want to go to school or work in the morning, think about Sokrath. Think about how he started a school from scratch, how he buys the village children treats, and think about all those people, all those kids, who don’t have a job, who don’t go to school. Who later on will not have job because of no or little education. Think about that.
I am not supposed to put pictures of the kids on here, so if you want more pictures, send me an email and I’ll send you more. firstname.lastname@example.org
7 thoughts on “Green Umbrella School”
Great post Mia. You are blessed with your dads writing skills and sense of humor.
These skills will benefit you forever. Love Grandpa.
It looks like you all are having a big variety of experiences in a personal way with the people you are meeting. I guess if everyone could do that, we wouldn’t have wars.
Hi Honey, you are soooooo fabo, you make grandma cry ( of course!) You and Porter can just stay there and teach those wonderful children and Mom and Dad will send you food now and again. good Plan. Miss you Love you. Gma
Mia – that post just warms my heart!! What an incredible experience. I expect life will never quite look the same, do you think?? And that grandma looks wonderful.. would thank her if I could! Love ya lots, G. Helen
Great post Mia! Your writing is wonderful. I’m not surprised the kids loved you! I so wish other kids/people could have the experience your having. We have so much here while others have so little.
Mia: you are a wonderful writer! Thank you for sharing your experiences and memories with us. I’m humbled by your and your family’s generosity and outgoing nature.
What a magica experience Mia! And wow-your writing is really “Sart” as they say in Cambodia. Love you lots!