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Published: March 25th 2010
We got up early this morning to travel to the first school that Kids Building Hope helped to build - the school we dedicated 2 years ago. The trip from our hotel to the school was 7 miles ... it took us easily 2 hours by bus -- some of it pretty rough. (I would ask Helen her opinion on the road conditions but she was asleep for most of it -- due to her affinity for car sickness -- she slept with a barf bag in her lap). Sadly, the sites along this road were not to be missed -- so she'll have to read about it and see the pictures just like you!!
What kind of things did you see drying on the side of the road? Jake: rice (lots of rice), fish, fruit Tracy: raw meat in the hot sun always stuns me - not sure if they were drying it or just selling it. Will: people's clothes.
So ... after the 2 hour adventure we rounded the bend and were greeted by the 5th grade morning session students lining the pathway into the school. (I never found out why they were the chosen ones). We
Drying Rice lining the Road
Stays out in the sun for 3 days before moving on for more processing.
high-fived, waved, and smiled our way into the school yard. There was a short presentation - with kids performing and teachers thanking Kids Building Hope -- but everyone was just bursting at the seems to play!! So Carly said a few words (our tour guide translated) -- and she presented the school with a great new keyboard to help with their music program. We quickly passed out the candy we had brought for the kids -- and then the soccer balls, bubbles and jump ropes started flying!! Kids were swarming everywhere... lots of miming, smiling, "Hello"-ing and picture-taking helped us to connect with the kids who were eager to interact. After a couple feverish (in more ways than one) hours -- we were drenched and exhausted. I really think the kids from the school could have kept up at this pace for much longer -- but there wasn't enough coconut milk in the world to keep us from melting on the spot. It was time for us to go...
What was different about your experience at the school this time? Carly: It was less formal with less ceremony -- and we got to spend more time with the kids.
Taking a break from working the rice field
Will: You could see the school had some wear and tear from use. Tracy: I thought that more of the kids were attempting to speak English than before.
What was the best part of today? Jake: playing soccer with the kids. Carly: it just seemed like the kids didn't want us to leave - they followed us to our bus - and just kept saying good-bye. Abby: I loved seeing the kids wear the backpacks we had brought them 2 years ago. Some of them were pretty beat up and patched up -- but they were still using them. I was worried we wouldn't see any of them. Helen: Having a little girl give me a tour of her classroom.
What felt particularly good today? Carly: giving the keyboard to the school. Abby: giving out candy and watching the kids be happy. Kris: seeing that procession of kids greet us. Will: Jumping in the pool when we got back to the hotel.
Any kids stand out to you? Carly: I found my favorite little girl from 2 years ago. I gave her a copy of the picture I had taken during our last visit. She smiled and
Woman on Motorbike
Can you imagine driving like this?
was shy - but so sweet. Will: I couldn't see my friend Qui -- because, I was informed, he moved on to secondary school which is good for him. They took the picture I had of us from our last visit and my address - I hope I hear from him. Kris: There was a boy named Linn who was 12 the last time we visited - and he was so charismatic. I was sad to find out that he is no longer in school, but works in the rice fields. This was hard to hear. Abby: There was one little girl who followed me everywhere. When she got her candy from us -- she wanted to share hers with me. I just can't believe that. When it was time for us to go - she cried. She was just so sweet.
So we pulled out of the school and took the long journey back into Chau Doc -- our little ambassadors became regular kids in the back of the bus as they belted out many a song that makes a parent say, "I never knew those were the words to that song" with a startled kind of disgusted
Crossing the Bridge on foot
We unloaded the bus before crossing the bridge -- just in case!! Didn't want to end up in a canal.
look on her face. Anyway...
We toured some other areas in Chau Doc -- but the real highlight of today was getting to be with those kids at the school again. It's hard to explain the electricity of kids wanting to know other kids when they can't use words to make that connection. The smile, the hand hold, the eye contact, the willingness to look a little bit silly miming what you want to say... It makes a person fill with hope for our future. You would have been very proud of your friends/cousins/grandchildren/students today -- I know that we were.
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