Happy Thanksgiving (again)!

22 11 2012

Time for our third annual Thanksgiving Day post from abroad! Just like the last two years, this year each of us has prepared a list of things we are grateful for.


At the risk of sounding cheesy, I must confess that when I fully allow myself to think about my life and all the reasons I have to be thankful, it’s overwhelming. The truth of the matter is that my life is so good I don’t even know where to start.

Being in Cambodia is such a privilege in and of itself. It’s been an unbelievable experience that I am so grateful for. Learning a new language, meeting new people, working on new projects, and basically shifting my entire reality has helped me grow in countless ways I couldn’t have otherwise.

Throughout our time here, we’ve even been able to share our experiences with several friends and family members who’ve come to visit. Although I’m thankful for all those visits, today I am especially thankful for my parents and their willingness to travel across the globe to see us. Their trip is certainly a highlight of my time here that I will not soon forget. But those who haven’t come to visit have still shown their support in the forms of emails, letters, packages, text messages and phone calls. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I’m grateful not only for the people who have expressed their support, but also for the ways that technology and infrastructure help keep me connected to those I love, even when I’m 8,000 miles away.

I’m grateful for folks back home, but I am equally grateful for those inspiring individuals who I interact with regularly here – both Cambodians and foreigners. There are countless people who have challenged my beliefs, taught me life lessons and set an example for me to follow. Lucky for me, my husband is included on that list. Tim continues to impress and inspire me with his daily choices, always putting others first and genuinely striving to help those around him. I am so thankful that I can feel at home with him in any place around the world.

Living here serves as a constant reminder of all I have to be thankful for: the ability to be globally mobile, clean water, shelter, access to education and information, a steady source of income, my health, and so much more. It’s a humbling and motivating existence that I’m so thankful to have. I feel so fortunate, and I hope this Thanksgiving you all do too!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


I’ll admit it. This year, Thanksgiving completely sneaked up on me. It wasn’t until I was lesson planning for my private class on Wednesday night that I realized that we were hours away from the best holiday of the year. I guess the lack of fall smells of cinnamon, cloves, and pumpkin combined with some ridiculously hot weather to continue what seems like my 16th July in a row. Without a little advanced notice, the usual Thanksgiving questions all hit me at the same time: what am I thankful for? How much turkey should I buy? Is gravy sold by the gallon?

I guess you could say we’re doing a sort of minimalistic Thanksgiving this year, so the final two questions will have to wait. There’s not much turkey to be had and no time off, so we’re planning on a making something special on Saturday and celebrating then. But, all tradition is not lost, as we mark our third thanksgiving abroad in a row, the blog of thankfulness continues!

Since this entire thankfulness blog cycle has been spent in Cambodia, some of the usual cast members this year have largely been reduced to tiny voices on my cell phone. Nevertheless, I have a lot to appreciate about these faceless people on the other end of the line (can we still say line?). Mom and Dad continue to try to understand our lives here as difficult as it is to do. Mom saying the name of our town over and over until she gets it right or Dad miraculously following Cambodia in the news without touching a computer both mean a lot. The tiny voices I hear are nothing but loving, supportive, and eager to learn. They spend exorbitant amounts of money to send packages halfway around the world, powerlessly hoping the beef jerky doesn’t get mistakenly sent to Colombia, Cameroon, or, inexplicably, Indonesia. Mom still writes letters that never arrive because one or two have made it eventually. All of these things and more add up to a bounty of support and love felt from a very long way away.

I’m thankful for Katie’s parents who, despite a mountain of reasons not to, came to visit us in Cambodia last week. Not many people would fly 10,000 miles to a completely foreign place just to see their daughter and her husband for ten days. The trip was a blast and so very much appreciated.


I’m thankful for everyone at home that has helped financially with projects or just spread the word about Cambodia. Your generosity was both impressive and lightning-fast.

I’m grateful to have never had a dull day here. This experience has lent me a thousand stories and tens of thousands of reflective moments. Being able to come here has been incredibly enriching in all aspects. I’m so thankful for the privilege to do what I am doing where I’m doing it.

I’m thankful to have some wonderful students who continue to amaze me. Waking up at 4 am and studying from 6 am to 7 pm every day is an inspiration. Despite the fact that their class with me is their 12th straight hour of class, they are full of smiles, meaningful questions, and enthusiasm.

I’m thankful to have some excellent coteachers, counterparts, deputy school directors, host family members, random market ladies, and hilarious neighbor kids in Kampong Kdei. We have had nothing but wonderful interactions here. I have been completely lucky to be able to work with teachers that enjoy teaching with me and who are generally just fun to be around. They have helped us in countless ways over the past year or so.

I’m thankful for fellow PCVs who are absolutely hilarious to be around, who make me think differently about the world, and who make me proud to be a volunteer. We have a truly remarkable group of volunteers and staff in Cambodia.

Lastly, but certainly not leastly, I am thankful for Katie. An eater of my food, a fixer of my grammar, a kicker of my pants, she has obviously had a profound impact on who I am today. We’ve had another wonderful year together and I’m certain next year will be even better (a flushing toilet may help that fact). I’m thankful for the past and looking forward to what the future brings.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!




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