It’s been three days now that we have been here at Koh Preah and although the physical labor is beginning to be strenuous and the work is feeling more like work on our blistered hands and sore backs, the energy of the group remains undeniably positive as we continue to make remarkable progress both on the fence and at the school yard. Everyone here works extremely well together, and I think it’s safe to say that the more time we have spent with one another, the more like a family we have become. We have our inside jokes, uncontrollable rants, and tough moments we work through as a group. We discuss our emotions as we would with our closest friends and share details of our lives that even those back at home may not realize. Not only so, but we are beginning to develop an unspoken friendship with the members of the village that makes being here on the island as comforting to me as being back home. Even though our lives vary from theirs in the materialistic sense, and many may say we are “more fortunate” than them or that we “live better” than they do, after being here I must say I disagree with that statement which I once held true.
As Kirsten had said in our group discussion yesterday evening, what the people lack here in possessions they make up for in gratitude. We begin on the opposite end of the spectrum, may have more materialistic things, but we are often much less appreciative and grateful than they are. They are not lacking. We all lack in certain areas, and although the areas in which we lack may be different than theirs, it does not mean that our lives are any better. That is what has struck me most about being here. Despite the heat, labor, or anything else around me, no one has complained a single second. This island is a place of peace and serenity to me and has been my favorite thing about being in Cambodia thus far. I hope I apply everything that I have learned here to my life following the course because I cannot imagine not sharing what I have gained here with those around me and having it play a great deal in the rest of my life. I have a lot of love for this little place.