I originally wanted to call this blog things I will miss and things I will not miss. After considering this I realized even things I would put in the “not miss” category I will probably miss. Whether directly or indirectly. So, I will call this, “Things I will Miss and Things I will be Grateful for”
KSDC has really become my home in the past few months. I have routines, friends, I am not surprised by the smells, cold showers, or new food dishes anymore. I know that when I wake up at 7 there will be people singing and yelling. I know the ladies who work in the market and I smile at the guys who work in the motorbike repair shop as we drive by. It is interesting becoming apart of this small community. I will really miss community. I will miss sharing snacks with the students and talking around a table. I will miss their good humor and I will miss hearing their stories. Some of them tell me the most heartbreaking stories and finish with a beautiful smile on their face. I know it is going it will be really hard to return home and listen to people complain about their lives. These students fled an unsafe country, have families living in active warzones and still take care of themselves and each other with only positivity and hopefulness for the future. I have really realized that complaining comes from a place of privilege. When I return home I will be more grateful for my mobility rights, my home, and safe neighborhood.
I will miss the beautiful scenery that grows around the school and village. I have never seen so much green. As I write this, I can see coconut trees, papaya trees, jackfruit trees, and tamarind trees. All out of one window and it is so beautiful. The nature is so peaceful, returning to the city will be a big change. When I return to Victoria, I will be even more grateful for our beautiful forests, beaches, and the ocean. I could say I will not miss the mosquitos or the ants, that I will not miss the sound of the roosters as dawn breaks every morning but I think that I will. I will because all of those things are such an important part of the environment at KSDC.
When I arrive back in Victoria, I will be grateful for the simple things. Always having running water and safe drinking water from the tap. There have been many times here at KSDC where I have been unable to take a shower, wash my hands, or drink water because there is no water. At home I will be grateful for a drying machine. Here if it rains for days on end everything gets wet and eventually molds. Mold flourishes in this humid climate and when it rains nonstop, there is nothing you can do but wait for sun. I will be able to appreciate these things so much more after living without them and not only view these things as basic requirements. I could say I will not miss packing my laundry and driving to the laundry mat but this is part of my weekly routine. We usually drop off our laundry and get a cold drink. On sunny days everyone is doing laundry and this means walking around the school in search of a place on a drying line. As grateful as I will be to simply throw my clothes in the wash and dryer I will miss laundry days out here.
I will be grateful to be able to read and understand the textbooks at UVIC. At KSDC, textbooks for many classes are available only in English. This means students with elementary English skills at best are trying to read Law, Social Science, and Community Management textbooks in English. Unfortunately, Burmese (Which is already some students second language) and English translations are not very accurate and this leaves students really confused even using online translations. It is heartbreaking watching students who care so much about their education and put so much effort into learning not be able to have learning resources in their language. Every student does homework from 6 – 9:30 every night, I have never known anyone who cares this much about their education. In high school in Victoria nobody wanted to do their homework. Here the students are so motivated and want to learn as much as they can about law, history, and human rights so they can better the situation of their people. When community is such a vital part of their lives, everyone wants to be a strong, contributing, and helpful community member so they all work extremely hard. We are really lacking a sense of community in the West.
I am going to miss the food. I thought that maybe I would get sick of rice after eating it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for 6 months but no. I still love rice and have an even greater love for vegetables. I am excited to cook food like this when I get home. I will however be more grateful for good cooking oil and raw vegetables. I will really miss the local veggies and miss the fresh fruit.
As much as I am going to be grateful to take a nice relaxing bath, I will miss the cold bucket showers so much. I love the refreshing cold showers after a long sweaty day. Even when we go to stay in a hotel, I can’t bring myself to take a hot shower. I’ve grown accustomed to the cold shock. I’m sure that after coming home and it being winter time, I will welcome a hot shower. I am really looking forward to feeling cold. I miss the feeling of cold feet and icy cheeks. I wonder how long it will take me to wish for this hot and humid climate. Probably not long.
I am really glad I was able to reflect before writing this and realize that I cannot say I won’t miss these things. Even things that have been a struggle, a challenge, or an annoyance have shaped this experience and helped me grow. I am so grateful I have allowed myself to grow and not let the discomfort constrain me. There is so much beauty at KSDC, despite it being rundown and old. Despite the lack of utilities and amenities it is so rich with life and community.