sweet, sweet life

It's spring! Sakura are blooming and the dismal temperature range has shot up into the realm of lovely. I took the blanket off of my kotatsu yesterday, people have stopped reacting to me wearing short sleeves, and the windows in the staff room are open. The only disadvantage is that the sun rises so early! Well, I guess I actually would like that if I was running still. For the time being I'm taking a break and letting my body rest a bit. I'll be hitting the pavement again next week or so.

So I'm back from Cambodia! Wow, what an awesome trip. Seeing Mindy after such a long absence was, of course, wonderful. But getting to put faces to names, and to see in person her situation. We didn't really do very many touristy things, so the are still large parts of Phnom Penh that deserve exploring - not to mention things like Angkor Wat.

I also did a little job investigating while I was there, and had interviews with a couple of schools. But that actually is probably a story worth telling...

Going to Cambodia, I had sent an email to one school that looked promising. At this point, I just sort of wanted to see what they were about. So, I sent an informational interview request and met with their elementary school principal. It was good, she was really nice and it was cool to see their operation. It was a private Christian school, K-12. Unfortunately, it really didn't look like there was going to be any opportunities for me there, which was a bit sad.

The day before, while getting ice cream, we randomly bumped into a teacher at another Christian K-12 school. I got the e-mail address of their principal, but didn't really see much time to meet them in Mindy and my schedule. I thought I might send an e-mail late in the week, or maybe even when I got back to Japan. After all, I had only a couple of days left in Phnom Penh before Mindy and I were to head off to a relaxing couple of days at the beaches in Sihanoukville before I headed home. Flash forward to Wednesday, the day before we leave Phnom Penh. It was afternoon, and Mindy was showering so I was bored. I decided I may as well send the email then. But in it I didn't really give too much indication that I was in Cambodia, or that I had any time to meet, or for that matter any contact details. I was quite surprised when a couple of hours and a very strange phone chain later, Mindy was on the phone with the school principal and organizing my interview... for that evening.

It all worked out just right. We went over to the school, met with the principal and vice principal and it all went really well. I really liked them, the vision of the school and the job on the table. It's exactly the sort of job I've been praying for: Christian, Cambodians (don't want to be in a barang bubble), teaching, computers. I'd be sort of half net admin half computer teacher. The papers aren't signed yet, but things are looking very positive.

It was really one of those crazy "God's perfect timing" moments, of which there were several during the course of the week.

The whole week really just whet my appetite for Cambodia. I have to admit I was a bit jealous of Mindy! It's so exciting; learning Khmer language and culture, seeing, eating, smelling and discovering a new place. Phnom Penh really had elements of disparate familiarity. There were things that felt Japanese there were things that felt Beninese - all in a combination that was completely unique to itself. I'm sure Mindy quickly tired of hearing about Benin, because I felt like all I did was compare Cambodia to it. But no matter what, it was really awesome to tread familiar feeling but wholly different paths. I'm really looking forward to moving over there and discovering what I can for myself.

Oh, and the food was AWESOME! So good! Oh, and there was a Dairy Queen in the airport. What the heck? We don't even have Dairy Queen in Southern California! At least I know if I'm ever hankering for a Blizzard, my hunger need not go unsatisfied.

In the mean time though, I'm concentrating on loving Japan and where I am now. Not that that is hard to do, especially in light of all of the newness. My new first year students are at school, and have the bright-eyed-full-of-hope-while-still-wide-eyed scaredness that only first years can have. I'm happy that I get to be the connecting point too. I'm the only teacher that they really know here. (since I taught them in elementary as well) It's pretty fun to see them all together. We have a whole new staff as well (basically). We had 8 teachers change schools this year, so that's roughly half of our staff. It feels like a great start to a good ending. I'm really looking forward to all that's coming next.

I'm continuing my busy life of visitors with Shane and friends. They're currently visiting Kansai, but will be coming back up towards me this weekend. It's strange having such a constant flow of people in and out of my house. Fun, and occasionally tiring but, it's cool to have segments like this. Once they leave, it'll just be a matter of days before I'm back in California for a few days for my brother's wedding. (!) Then, returning from that, just a matter of about two months before I'm back in Cambodia. Wow.