As we were studying statistics for democracy and development around the world, we discovered that the students weren’t very familiar with geography. We had trouble knowing what countries were in what continents, including their nearly-a-neighbor Cambodia and perhaps-it-should-be-obvious South Africa. This led to a few days of games and competitions identifying countries and some basic geography facts.
We were talking about freedoms in class, one of them being the freedom of expression. We discussed speech, writing, art, and symbolism. I explained symbolism by drawing a cross, a swastika, and a peace sign on the board, and then I asked them what they mean and how they know this. We also discussed the peace sign with two fingers. Yim held up her hands with a peace sign to her cheek, just like all the students do in all their photos, and asked what it means. They guessed “handsome” or “style.”
What?! Every Asian I know gives the peace sign in every photo! And these students didn’t even know it meant peace?!
I could hardly believe it. Not one student knew that this meant peace. What is this continent coming to?
We taught them, and by the end of our course they were all walking around, giving peace signs accompanied with “peace” in Karen!
Another snake. This was during a break from class, when I heard a scream and saw the snake crawling at the back of our classroom. Some of the boys quickly killed it, and of course had to pick it up for a few poses. It was pretty good size and poisonous. It could kill you if left untreated, but they assured there is an herbal remedy that can fix you up pretty quickly.
I also learned that the one Stephen had spotted the day before was over three times as thick as this one. So thankful I didn’t have to see that one!
And did you know that after a snake is dead, it still moves? It wrapped its tail around the student’s arm, and he seemed surprised, too!
The area we were in is very near to Yim’s fiancé, so they were able to see each other for a few days! They asked Stephen to take a few engagement photos, and he did a great job. They were pretty adorable.
And then we headed back to a small town. We had to hike about two hours after days of rain, supposedly as a result of the cyclones in the region. Most of the hike was through rivers, now swollen from all the rain fall, and the rest was down very, very slippery mountainside. We arrived late in the evening on a holiday weekend, and after a dinner of snacks from 7/11, we couldn’t find a guesthouse. Despite the “over 200 hotels” that Yim kept telling us about, we ended up spending another night in the same mistake of a guesthouse. I tried to argue that it could be worse, to which Stephen replied, “Yeah, it could be. The last time we stayed here.”
We relocated the next night, and found a little gem of a place situated on a little lake. It was clean and had a soft bed. As a bonus, it had cheetah print sheets. It’s not every day you get to sleep on cheetah print.