December 24, 2009

Visiting Students’ Cambodian Host Families

Sreyhem and Keith spent much of the week visiting host families for the SST group, seeing 20 homes and talking with a 21st family over the course of the last several days. We are awaiting a firm response from two families, and a couple of the families that we had hoped would work out were altered when we saw the distance they were outside of the main part of the city. Right now we have 19 interested families that we are talking with. All but one of those homes or families are depicted here.

A few of the families are Christian, though the majority are Buddhist, as is true in Cambodia overall. One family includes a Catholic father and Buddhist mother, and a family or two have Buddhist parents and Christian children. Some of the adolescent and young adult children of the household speak some (or much) English, and in some cases there is no English at all spoken in the home.

As you can see from the photos, most Phnom Penh host families have tile floors, though some have wooden floors (as will be generally true for countryside host families). Often host family homes are in the p’teah l’veng style, with a lower-area living room and then bedroom in a mezzanine area overlooking the living room. In the evenings families often park their cars, trucks, or motos in the lower levels of their homes.

Some students will have their own rooms, but more will sleep in a room with a host sister or brother. Some will sleep on straw mats in the living room; some will sleep on the wooden platforms pictured in many of the photos; and some may sleep in beds with thin mattresses. Some women will sleep in the same bed as their host sisters, and some men may sleep with their host brothers.

We have not yet assigned particular students to specific families, but hope to do that early next week after a couple of loose ends fall into place. Once we know which families students will be living with, we’ll post a list on Moodle so students can see the general contours of their families (how many siblings, location in the city) before they arrive in Cambodia.

We’re hoping you all have a Merry Christmas back in the U.S. Students will land in Phnom Penh two weeks from tomorrow (Thursday)!

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