June 21, 2016
I have been here for three weeks now and I’m getting very used to the barang, or foreigner, lifestyle. I have picked up a few words of Khmer so when my students start talking about me I can give them a pointed look. It is really fun to haggle when I know a bit of their language—nothing makes a tuk tuk driver do a double take more than a white girl saying “mouy dollar ba-an te?” (How about one dollar?). I’m really finding the beauty in things that repulsed me when I first arrived, like the smell of jackfruit on the streets and the shouts of children getting ready for school in the morning.
Today we went to Chub Smack again to measure the BMI of the children on the feeding program. The five other girls and I were assigned jobs. I was in charge of getting the height measurement, others were charged with weight, arm width, and data entry. Then we calculated the BMI to see how the child is progressing. This is really interesting to me because I am considering pre-med and this will give me a taste of what life as a doctor might be like. Also, I really like looking at trends with health. We had thirty kids to measure today, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you have to set up a file for each child, it can take a while.
There are kids from the age of 1 to the age of 16 on the feeding program, so we worked with kids of all ages. The older kids didn’t have problems because they understood what was happening, but the younger kids saw the red bag and assumed we were giving vaccines. The babies cried because they wanted their moms and hated being measured on the mat. By the end of the day I had held down at least ten babies to get their measurements and I had heard so much crying it didn’t even bother me anymore. I was amazing. After today, I know that is what I want to do with my life. I loved the hands-on part of working at this NGO and I loved seeing the people affected by our actions at the NGO.
Once again, I was struck by how children are the same everywhere. Babies will cry when their mom isn’t holding them, children will not stand up straight unless you ask them, and stickers solve everything. Today was enlightening because I also realized where my passion truly lies: in helping people all over. It feels like I should yell “Eureka!” because I finally found something that makes me feel refreshed. Hopefully the rest of my trip will feel the same!