Thursday, February 24, 2011

02/21/2011 the heat and the kids

Well hot season has started. I'm not sure i'm ready to call it dry season though. In the mornings it feels pretty humid still, but no one can deny that the dust and sand is out of control. It pretty much hasn't rained in the last 3 months, probably more but I didn't keep track. Instead of sinking into the mud I sink into the sand. No longer do I need to avoid puddles and splashes from passing trucks, but I do need to hold my breath and close my eyes to avoid being suffocated and blinded. The ants have gone insane too. I'm not entirely sure why because it's not like any rains are driving them nuts. Maybe overpopulation...Anyway they're all over my room. There was a time where I wouldn't mind this because usually they got what they wanted and would leave. But now it's war and I'm probably gonna lose. Now, they just want to live here. There's no food in my room. I have strict rules. Any food is in a ziploc bag which has been a time tested repulsant of ants. I've cleaned and even flooded them with hand sanitizer. I think sometimes the ants get drunk off the ethanol or at least knocked out. But its all just temporary. Today I stepped on a fire ant hill. That was painful. I literally was only on it for a second, but they are vicious and I didn't have any water around. So I pretty much just jumped around and threw off my shoes. Then jumped around some more. It's funny because I was with a 12 year old and a 6 year old and they were both unfazed by the ants.

Progress report on my biking skills: there is clear improvement. I am not bad at biking standing up now though I still only do it when I'm alone. I'm scared of falling and knocking other people over. I can bike over 30k and my butt doesn't hurt like crazy anymore. After biking a while, my arms are more tired than my legs. I think using a super huge city bike for 2 months and all that practice using a squat toilet has really improved my leg strength. Even doing the laundry isn't such a workout now. I puposefully use laundry time to practice my squat instead of sitting on a small seat.

I've started playing volleyball with  some kids this past week. The first time it was almost all girls and most of them had never learned how to play before. I did some basic drills with bumps, but for some reason everyone wanted to set. Except, they didn't know how to do it. So I tried to teach them, but the concept of fingertips was hard to get across. In Kmai the word for hand and arm are the same.

Today I played with almost all boys. Deja vu. The girls/boys dynamics in sports is definitely the same way it is in America. Girls are easily intimidated and don't assert themselves when boys are around. Boys are exclusionary even though, skills wise, they are equal to the girls. Boys can hit hard and hit far, but they have no idea how to direct their hits. Girls learn technique faster because they can't rely on hitting hard to muddle through, but as a consequence they look worse playing the game since their hits are timid. These are purely my observations of these two groups playing, but it's exactly the same thing I experienced in high school. The frustrating thing is that these girls are good, but will probably never get to be better. Since they aren't amazing off the bat they get excluded. Being excluded means no practice time. No practice time means they will always be stuck at the playing level that they're currently at. This is exactly how it worked in my high school. The only way girls get better is if they can challenge the boys and kick their asses or if they get individual playing time.

Case in point, As I was playing with the boys today a tenth grade girl I knew came over. I invited her a few times to play but she declined. She kept telling me she didn't know how to play which in Cambodian can also mean she just doesn't like to play. Instead she joined the younger kids that I brought with me who also felt excluded. When the boys left for class I got my volleyball back and I taught her to bump. She already knew how to set pretty well. We played for maybe half an hour and she was late for class because she didn't want to stop. Out of all the kids I'd played with she definitely had the best control of the ball. She could direct it properly and knew how much force was needed. It was, by far, the best practice I'd had with the kids in my village. But without me spending extra time with her she would have just been stuck watching on the sidelines.