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Cambodia Summer Program.

Jack of the week

My first real interaction with Jack Sun was nearly twenty feet above the dusty grounds of a farm, with trails of ants and flocks of ducks scampering beneath us, and packs of wild dogs howling into the thick Mekong night sky. Dead moths cluttered en masse within the casing of fluorescent lights that provided the illumination we needed to watch the integrity each other’s reps. Fan was off; it would have caused a horrible, seizure-inducing flicker simply not fit for our makeshift workout room. We feverishly did pushups on the wooden floor of our one-room stilted home, stoically alternating the position our rust-red stained hands to build upon what we considered to be our incompetent amounts of muscle mass. Greased in ample perspiration, we left only the sweat shadows of our bodies in the shack to go wash off with our first bucket shower.

Already, on the first day, “The boys are clicking” I thought.

After bussing ourselves to an ancient corner of Cambodia, The Oudong Monastery, we dressed into proper robes, and took a walking tour of the otherworldly area we would occupy for the next couple days. After taking our vows of silence post-dinner as a group, Jack and I quietly settled into our meditation retreat dorm at the end of the small host building. In compound with the agreement of no speaking for our time at the Monastery, the sheer beauty and religious energy I had witnessed upon entry was enough to shut my mouth for once. My mind was preoccupied with the image of the actual bone material of the Buddha in its golden shrine we had all been honored to see upon arrival, framed by four massive elephant tusks, and countless decorative offerings of gems, flowers, incense, and marble stone statues of the man. Tussling through our bags and throwing on our preferred sleeping attire, we came down from the mental overload of entering what could be compared to as a Shangri-La on Earth.

Having silence with Jack to return to, after a day of complex teachings and meditation allowed me to process the lessons in my own way, and at times, observe my own thoughts without any emotion shrouding my perspective. In taking after each other, we learned to be mindful and have deeper self reflection without any verbal communication, and held ourselves to this discipline. We collaboratively overcame this challenge in the most thoughtful way we could have, and it’s further strengthened the friendship we have, that’s now definitely a baseline for my time in Cambodia.