It’s 3am, I woke to the sounds of misquotes and crickets. It’s completely dark. There’s no moonlight but the sky is lit up with stars. Under the Cambodian night sky, surrounded by darkness, my spirit drifts.

Teacher Sophan and I visited a student to drop off a bike. Her parents greet us as her 4 younger siblings curiously surround me. “Teacher, teacher come” as she indulges me to look into a bucket full of snakes. I really dislike snakes. Sophan and I grasp as she fearlessly reaches in and pulls one out. As the snake coils around her tiny hands, she stretches her arm toward me. Mesmerized in her fearlessness I obliged and reach out my palm. I didn’t gasp, didn’t flinch. I felt nothing as the snake laid in my hand. In that moment, hypnotized by her fearlessness, I spiritually saw fear for what it was, an illusion.

Later that evening, Teacher Dahvid Ear and I had dinner with another student’s family. Her father and I talked about the war as well as his concerns and hopes for his family.

Cambodia is a land of contrast. Within extreme poverty, extreme wealth; extreme hardships and struggles, there is hope and resilience. I came as a teacher, I leave as humble student.

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