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Cambodia Summer Program.

Day 9

6:09am: I’m woken up by my nine year old host brother speaking Khmer words that I don’t understand. When I roll over, I see him standing on the other side of my baby pink mosquito net with an accomplished smile on his face. He giggles and yells, “Kampuchea!”, waving a mini flag from yesterday’s parade. Even if Reesa hadn’t woken me up, I would have inevitably gotten up minutes later. Ever since arriving at the homestay, I’ve found it nearly impossible to stay asleep past 6:30am, and this is coming from someone who genuinely struggles to get out of bed before 12pm at home. Here it’s completely different. My host family sleeps when the sun goes down and wakes up when it rises. When I wake up, I hear roosters trumpeting their regular cock-a-doodle-doos, sounding like a recording from a cartoon. I hear my family’s many dogs fighting, barking, and crying, waiting for their breakfast rice. I hear my host grandmother and sister shuffling around the kitchen with the occasional collision of pans sounding like a gong. I hear my host grandfather meditating and mumbling Khmer words to himself while he does this. I hear birds chirping, singing their usual morning song. When I first arrived at this house, I felt like an intruder. I was uncomfortable with the unfamiliarity of the lifestyle, the food, the language, and the people that were supposedly my new family members. After a few days, I’ve realized my minimal language skills will not dramatically change overnight and the food here is actually exceptionally good. Most importantly, I’ve realized that my host family wants to share their house with me and treat me like a family member and not a guest. So, when I woke up this morning and saw Reesa in his matching red and gold pajamas flashing me an adorable smile, I didn’t feel uncomfortable. I felt at home much more than I ever thought I could while completely across the world from my real house and family.