21 February 2012


As soon as I found out I was able to fly back to New Mexico to be with my dad as he recovers from his knee replacement surgery, I knew there was one thing I had to buy: a computer. This computer is not for me, though. It's for my host family. For the first time ever via a video chat on Skype, I connected them to their daughter and her children who permanently live in Cambodia (then later connected 5 generations). They spoke on the phone every once in awhile, but never over video. Now both my host parents and their daughter ask to Skype all the time. I don't blame them. It's a wonderful tool to see loved ones who are far away (trust me... I use it all the time!). We should be getting fast internet installed in the village soon (yes, we were promised it would be installed last October, but, you know... it's a lot of work) so the connection should be much better... and so I figured this would be a great way to say thank you for everything they've done for me over these past (almost) 2 years. However, my host dad isn't big on receiving gifts so I wasn't sure how to go about telling them I was getting them a computer and they couldn't say no... except for by the element of surprise. But just my luck, my host mom mentioned that my host dad was going to buy a computer! This is good news because I know they'll appreciate it, but bad news because I didn't want to bring one back and find out they already bought one (and overpaid, at that, because electronics are ridiculously expensive here!!). I decided I had to tell them... but now. I tried to convince their daughter to bring it up first, but she didn't want it to sound like she had asked me to buy it for them (which she didn't). So then I tried to tell my host mom, hoping she would say OK! and then, while I was gone, try to convince my host dad to wait until he buys one... and then I show up with it. But... she said, "No. Absolutely not." Well, shit. Now what? No clue. It was then time for their Skype session with their daughter and my host dad brought up the computer purchase topic to her just as the battery was about to die on my laptop and I was nervous so I ended up not saying anything. Then as we closed the session, somehow the topic continued and I tried to beat around the bush saying "what if I got you one" while half joking with him and him half being serious and half joking back so I had no idea what the final decision was! But then, about a minute later into our conversation, the problem was solved: they'll let me bring them back a laptop.

Now, you see, my host dad knows a little bit about computers. He was somehow assigned to be the computer teacher a few years ago and he had absolutely not idea how to use a computer (and obviously didn't have one at home) so he learned how to use the computer as he taught the kids. So he knows a little bit. But my host mom is absolutely clueless because until I came around, she'd never had a reason to see or even use a computer. But now she's ready to learn- and just in time if you ask me! So this evening she came into my room and picked up my iPod touch and asked me how to turn it on. And then how to take a picture. And then how to look through the pictures. She's learning!

Here is her first self portrait:

I am so thankful I have been able to connect my host family with their daughter and her family abroad... and now that I'll be able to help them continue the visual communication (with her and hopefully me, too!) even after I leave.

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