Friday, March 11, 2011

Amor ASB and America! Thank for Everything!

As you can see in my title, I will share you all the best trip that really impacts my life and my personality, and by saying "best" I really mean it is the best I have ever had so far.
The lifetime trip I was talking about is called Alternative Spring Break. After gone through the application, I was selected to join 43 other American students to a one full week environmental community service trip. I have never expected anything from this trip beside doing community service like any services I have done. However, many unexpected amazing things happened to me. This trip gave me much more than I can ask for. This trip marked my first time for many things.
No offense but honestly speaking, this is the time when I most appreciate the opportunity that I come to America. This is the first time I know how it actually feels to be an American adolescence (simply because I have always hanged out with international students since I came to USA.) This is the first time I really know how people really love, care and appreciate for who I really am and not judging me from my outside look. This trip has changed my personality from being a shy and reserved person into a bubbly and outgoing people. This trip has provided me many close American friends that I would never ever dream I will ever be able to make. This trip gives me the confident and support to express myself more, so that my personality can shine through those stereotype and hatespeech.
Here are the detail of what I have done for the whole week.
On Satursday evening, I had done my packing, but my mind was mixed up. I was a bit regret since my requirement to do community service is just 10 hours. I felt very uncomfortable going with American students since I have never talked to any Americans about personal things more than 5 minutes before. I was so freaking out the first time I saw them and I knew I need to spend a week with them. I almost decided not to go, but I felt so bad about the money 200$ I have paid for the community service trip. Now I know I did the right decision and this trip worth way more than that money.
Nothing significant was going on on Sunday. I was on the bus feeling so uncomfortable having to sit alone on the bus. The ride took 13 hours to reach Hendersonville, North Carolina. We arrived in Tekao Camp where we need to sleep during this week. I share a room with four other American guys, which made me feel even worse. But then I started to move to my comfort zone by visiting the girls' room. Nevertheless, by sharing a room with that many American guys, I got to know how they interact, which was a bit surprising to me at first. They used so many so-called bad words. Sometimes I was laughing so hard by the way they talk, and I started to feel jealous. I am from a conservative country, so I never use all those words to talk to people, but after I got used to it, I want to use them too :"> What is really funny about them (a bit gross) is that farting is so normal to them. They farted to each other. I would just commit suicide if I am caught farting back in Cambodia. It was fun and new to listen to those creepy things once in a while.
Okay, let's stop talking about dirty things by now. The place I stayed is so beautiful, so we started to walk around the mountain along the trail.
When we came back we played a card game called " Spoon" and a group game called " evolution." Well, I had to write down some instruction of those fun games. Mostly Cambodian people use card just for gambling. It is great to use a positive fun side of card to play somethings fun beside betting for money. Evolution is just a simple rock, paper, scissors game, but Kyle, the lovely and funny team leader, made it fun by using his cute gesture. The evolutions are egg, chicken, dinosaur, human, elephant and shark. (Well yeah not a quite legit evolution, but it was fun after all seeing those people evolve.)
In the evening, we have a little orientation of what we are going to do for the service. At the end of the day, I played a little vocabulary game, and I knew I had disadvantages since you know why. (In case you don't know why, they are AMERICANS.)
The first day of the trip came. Monday was not the most enjoyable day. People were divided into group, and I was selected to join the group repairing the trail on the mountain in the camp so that people can bike or hike on the mountain and explore the beauty of nature. Not so fun, but rewarding indeed. We have to walk approximately a mile to build the trail. It was my first time professionally holding a shovel. During lunch time, we walked back another mile and then go back another miles to the same place. (Wouldn't it be smarter just to carry the lunch box with us? Duh!!) So literally speaking, I walked 4 miles that day holding a heavy shovel and made the trail. However, what has inspired me the most was when I heard the guy who built this trail alone thanked us and told us he had to spent months building the amount of trail we had just done for 8 hours. It was that thankfulness that gave me power to continue on doing good things. In the evening, the group decided to set up camp fire. It was my first time technically being in a camp fire, and Diana, my group's advisor, had taught me how to make marsh mallow, chocolate and graham cracker out of that fire. I really enjoyed those food, and we had great time talking. I looked at the sky, and I saw thousands of little twinkle little stars. Usually, it is my habit to wish whenever I see star. I always believe one star would grant me one wish. With that many stars, I have no idea what to wish for, so I just felt at peace.
Here it comes the Tuesday's service. On the bus, we played a little game called "Speed Dating," so that we can get to know everyone faster. I got to know more cool awesome people and told them about myself and my country. My group was assigned to work in a natural center. I cleaned the fall leaves on the ground and made a good habitat for foxes' cage (and FYI, foxes were not in the cage.) It was awesome working and chatting with more American people. It was a bit creepy seeing some worms and spiders on the land and listening to all those wolves howling. I just pretended that I was watching Twilight to comfort myself to those scary things (Possibly just imagine that I am Bella :">).
After another hardworking and rewarding day, we headed back to the camp. The first game we played was "Ride the Pony." It was a very fun dancing game, which I felt a bit awkward at first but danced so hard at last. What really marked my Tuesday was reflection. In that talk, we were asked to confess the hurtful insight story of ourselves that we never share to random people. It was so great because I had always seen those people with their cheerfulness, and it tied our friendship stronger when we see each other's true and weak side. We all shared our past painful experience, and I was so thankful for that opportunity because I was able to tell people the secret of my feeling of how painful I felt when I had been bullied since I was young. It made me feel so delightful when I got encouragement from them. We all ended up crying so hard, and promised that our mouth would be sealed.
The next day was a greater day since we were not divided into group anymore. We all headed to Millspring Agricultural Development Center, Polk Soil and Water Conservation District. It was again my first time officially doing the painting. I painted the door green so that the center can physically look more environmental.
During the break, we played a little not-so-fun game called "Penguin finds Mama." (No offense to those who initiate the game, but it was a bit lame). In the evening, we went to a lecture on tree conservation. I could barely open my eyes due to tiredness and lack of sleep. I thought I was going to pass out during the reflection. Yet, it turned out to be that we would be doing a little debating on environmental issue, so I was more awake. Then we did a little name cheer so that we could show other group how awesome we were. The last fun thing of the day, we did a lot of crazy group posts like sexy beast, prompt pose, and animal post.
I was completely awake by then that I would be down for any games. We played "Sign," "Picture Telephone" and "Celebrity." Again those game were awesome, and I need to write down the instruction. (Little known fact: My sign was Spirit fingers and Kyle, the cute leader, couldn't do my sign well. Only those who know would know what I mean LOL)
Thursday was the last day of our service. We all was shocked to see how fast the days went. We all again went to Millspring. The director of Millspring did really appreciate our help that we all have our name printed at the center to thank for what we have done.
Our last evening, we did reflection with all participants. It was a very emotional and unforgettable evening. We did an amazing activities called secret evaluation where we all had to close our eyes, and each time five participants were selected. Team leaders read the statement, and the five participants had to tab someone's shoulder when they think the statement was true to that person. This activities have provided me confident and happiness since I got tapped so many times. I never knew I am "inspiring", "great personality" and "funny." I was tapped the most when the leader read a statement saying "Tap someone who you hope should speak out more." From that time on, I knew I had to get rid of my shyness and speak out more so that I can make my personality shines and people would know who I really am. Now I know that many people really care and love me for who I am. Every physical feeling they gave me made me feel so warm and touched. After that we all cried and hugged each other. Maybe I needed to do more than others since I am the only one who will never see them again. (Little interesting fact: I was hugged by a guy I really like for more than 20 seconds :"> I was so blash)

Finally, we partied and danced. It was funny, but I told my friends I felt like I was an American too. It was a great indescribable kind of feeling. Indeed, I know I can fit to another society.
On our free day, Friday, we headed to South Carolina to visit a zoo. After that we walked to a town called Greenville. I was so amazed by the European type of design of the little town.

Before taking a bus going back to Illinois, we played "Ride the Pony"again in the public, and it was insane since many people looked at us and took pictures of us. I know it always feels so good to be the center of attention.

To recap, this trip is the best experience of my life. I have understood a lot about myself, and the only thing I am regret is that I wish I met those people earlier, not that until I almost go home. Now I have a very good reason to miss the US of America :)


  1. Yeah sounds good. That's long reading article Mesa!

  2. aw..... and u still read it :) Thank you so much