My volunteer time has come to an end at SSD. It was a really tough last few days, knowing that I won’t get to be a regular part of their lives anymore. However, we did do some really fun things this past week with the kids!
On Tuesday, myself and some other people I know who have worked at SSD brought the ingredients to cook spaghetti and taught the kids how to make the dish. They were awesome: slicing and dicing all the vegetables for the sauce and salad, actually cooking the pasta and sauce, making garlic bread and setting the table. Then we had them sit down and we served them big plates of the food they had cooked. The smiles on their faces were heartwarming and they were so grateful, like they are for anything and everything that you do for them.
Saturday was the first ever Cambodian Cuisine Festival and my friend Danny and I had the brilliant idea to get tickets for the kids and escort them to the stadium for the event. When I told them about it on Thursday they couldn’t believe it. And on Friday it was all they talked about. “Who will be there?” “How many people?” “What kinds of food?” Of course I couldn’t answer any of the questions because I just didn’t know. I don’t know if that built their anticipation or not but when they arrived at the hotel on Saturday afternoon, they were all excited.
We piled into a truck true Cambodian style which means approximately 25 people into a normal sized pick-up truck. Danny met us the gate to hand out tickets and then we entered. We got to the festival as soon as it opened which meant that it was kind of slow at the beginning, but that was good because we all got a feel for how the event was laid out. Then we broke up into groups, depending on what people wanted to eat and do. Of course, the kids wanted to play the games. Although there were so many things different about this festival versus the ones that I have been to in the States, the games were the same: darts, ring toss, breaking things, fishing, stilts and the three person skis. The kids had a ball with everything.
The food at the festival was cool too. We had stuffed frog, crab, squid, shrimp, noodles and lime-grilled duck. There was music and dancing all night long as well as a fashion show and a choreographed swordfight, which was pretty wonderful. The festival ended up drawing a huge crowd, close to twenty thousand people attended. Although I did not get to indulge in the ridiculously cheap beer, it was totally worth it to hang out with the kids outside of a classroom and just have a good time. It was difficult at the end of the night, saying goodbye and telling them I wouldn’t be back next week. Thankfully, all of my friends are on the same page in that we want to stay connected to the kids so we are going to make the dinners at SSD a monthly event hopefully, and introduce them to new foods. Next up are fajitas!
‘Til next time, chon muy!