Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Week of Small Successes

          In the Peace Corps, your job is your life, and your life is your job. It's a 24/7 gig. So when you are constantly hitting road-blocks in your job it can really take a toll on your happiness.
          As cliche as it sounds, it is so important to focus on the small successes from day to day. It would be just as easy, actually even EASIER, to make a blog post titled "A Week of Big Failures," but that's not helpful to anyone. Instead, I kept track for a week of all my small successes. There was even a big success thrown in there! It was difficult at times. For example, on Monday I had to change the way I would normally think about the situation. Instead of saying "almost half the class didn't do the homework," I instead said that "more than half the class did their homework."
          We come here to change lives. To make a difference. Do I make a difference every day? NO. very week? nuh uh. Every month? hardly. But add up all these tiny successes over the course of 2 year, and I can say that yes, I am successful in this career.
          I've been having a hard time of it the last few weeks. Teachers don't want to work with me. Students have given up and are disruptive to the rest. I got really frustrated and started feeling really down about my job. After moping for like 2 weeks, I finally took charge. I changed my schedule. I'm now leaving alone the teachers who would rather have nothing to do with me. I've made myself more available to students who do want to learn from me. I wrote this blog post. And, to top it all off, my bible verse of the weeks is "Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you" from Luke 8:39. This not only goes for when I return home to America in 8 months, but also as I return home from work or teaching every day. Stop declaring and whining about what didn't happen that was supposed to happen according to your idea of success. Instead think about what God made possible in your situation.
           And here is the list of successes.

  • I noticed a 10th grader who came to the library all alone a few times every week. She would read through the books for about a half hour, choose one to take home, and then bring it back to exchange for a new book just a day or two later. I asked her if she would be interested in volunteering at the library in her freetime. She agreed, and I trained her right then and there.
  • I learned Happy Together on guitar

  • I learned big words in Khmer, like scholarship, and went class to class making the announcement about tomorrow’s workshop, successfully collecting 60 students’ names on the sign-up sheet.
  • I feel confident that the 2 Korean kids that I tutor understand questions with “do you have” and “how many.” Also, they now say “why I oughtta” when they get angry with each other. It's highly entertaining.

  • 40 students came to an AMAZING workshop about university, and most of them learned for the first time the plethora of fields of study to choose from. They made plans and goals for their near and distant futures. They learned about how to become a competitive applicant and where to look for scholarships. They left visibly excited and inspired. This was a BIG success.
  • I watched my students- many of whom used to be too shy to even say hello- lead discussions and volunteer to speak publicly during the workshop.

  • More than half of my Grade 10 class completed and submitted the homework assignment I gave them. A huge increase from the previous 0% submission.
  • A new counterpart pronounced “are” correctly during his teaching.

  • A sweet student went to the beach over the weekend, and brought me back a souvenir- a shell necklace
  • I actually got my chorus students to sing in 2 parts! 
  • 6 boys auditioned for 3 solos. 3 of them were even capable of singing in tune!

  • 2 students were sitting in the library reading a book about the history of chocolate together. One would read a paragraph in English, and the other would translate. Independent studying ftw!
  • I had lunch with my school director. Conversation was fun and easy, and he even treated me.
  • I finally had a long chat with my coffee ladies, who up to this point I think have been afraid to talk to me. We even happened to touch on the subject of womens’ rights.
  • Both grants were approved for the Create Cambodia Arts Festival coming up this March. A local organization has donated $2000, and we can officially start fundraising for the rest of it. Please consider donating to the project!
Me and my host dad

Me and my older sister

My mom, me, my little sister, and my older sister

Marady, Titi, Diana, and Ma at the Wat

Inside the Wat

Being silly

But she thought it was cute so she copied.


The stupa (grave) of a grandparent at the Wat

The extended family at the stupa

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