If you have never heard “same, same” before it is phrase people here use a lot to compare two things. Guess it’s easier than saying “similar” or “like” or “is the same as”. There are t-shirts sold to tourists that say “SAME, SAME” on the front and “BUT DIFFERENT” on the back. The girls have been saying, “John same, same Jesus” and pointing to his beard since day one. But on this last day they added an extra compliment, “John same, same Jesus; same, same monkey.” This, of course, was followed by hysterical laughter and then they kept repeating it. John took it as a compliment ;-). It’s not every day you get called a monkey (or Jesus–although John had another period of life in which he was often referred to as red headed Jesus).
Today was our last day of teaching and the girls were in no mood to learn. It was kind of like the last day of school before summer–they have a holiday this weekend that many are going home to celebrate and they wanted to play not be taught. It also doesn’t help that when we arrive they are just getting up from an afternoon nap so they stagger downstairs with grumpy faces and attitudes in tow. Usually we get them warmed up and they are fine, but it was definitely a struggle today. We made a deal with them that we would only inflict them with the pain of learning for an hour, which mostly consisted of games to reinforce what we have taught the past week or so. They reluctantly agreed. It was great to see how much they had learned in just over a week of teaching and we felt our time had been well spent.
The rest of the afternoon was filled with playing games, John teaching them guitar (well, letting them strum anyway), giving piggy back rides, receiving gifts the girls kept trying to give to us (we made out with two necklaces, a bracelet, a ton of origami, five rocks, and a lot of kisses and hugs), answering to the constant, “John, John, John, John!” or “Erin, Erin, Erin, Erin!”, exclaiming over pictures drawn of us on the white board (which always said “I love you”), and finally sharing an amazing meal of curry soup, french bread, and the best spring rolls ever. We capped off the night by eating cake to celebrate our time with the girls. Then the goodbyes… you would think by the way they clung to us that we had been there six months rather than two weeks. They followed us out the door and to our tuk tuk, continuing to give hugs, kisses, and high fives. They even tried to jump on the tuk tuk. After several more rounds we pulled away waving our last goodbyes and sending our last blown kisses their way.
Tomorrow we wrap up a few things in Phnom Penh and we are on our way to Siem Reap on Saturday. It is hard to believe three weeks have gone by already. We are very glad for the time we were able to spend here. Not only was working a good experience, we learned a ton, we got to have a “home” for awhile, and made some new friends. We look forward to sharing more about our time here and the work of the organization when we return home.