caring for cambodia


This thanksgiving, I had the unique opportunity to volunteer through Caring for Cambodia in Siem Reap with a group of teachers from my school. We went as a team to train the local teachers in Cambodia. Thankfully we had amazing translators that worked with us, so we could present different lessons and teaching methods to the Cambodian teachers.

CFC and the teachers wanted us to focus on science this year for the professional development. We were divided up into grade level teams and given a specific content to teach lessons on. I was teamed up with a fellow colleague, and we worked with a group of fourth grade teachers from various schools in Siem Reap. We taught them about the different parts of plant and the plant life cycle. We prepared these four different lessons, made a whole bunch of resources (laminated charts, photos, etc…) and brought as much as we could.

One of the experiments we did with them was putting celery in water, that has food coloring in it. As we had them do the experiment themselves, the teachers told us how this was new for them. They didn’t really do experiments with their students. Some of the teachers told us that celery was too expensive for them to buy in the market and use for their experiment. Luckily, we had some extra celery that we bought that one of the teachers could use for his model lesson the next day.

One of the most rewarding parts of this experience was the last day, where we got to visit a few of the teachers at their schools. We went to four different schools in Siem Reap. We saw them teach one of the four lessons that we modeled for them. It was so incredible to see them taking what they learned from us and making it work for their kids and classrooms. Some teachers had classrooms of 60 students in a classroom much smaller than mine back in Singapore.

Even though they didn’t really have any science resources, except their black and white science textbooks, they were creative and resourceful. We saw them use the different posters and charts we used. We saw them incorporate the ice breakers we modeled. We saw them get their kids excited for science. After each lesson, we gave the teacher feedback. We made sure to let them know that their students were quite lucky to have teachers like them in their classrooms.

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The 5 Month Journey


During the last week of school in June, I decided on a whim to sign up for a half-marathon. I was gently encouraged to sign up from a few colleagues of mine before hand, who were planning on the running the race in Cambodia during Thanksgiving weekend. I fully blame it on the end of the year craziness I was going through, which meant I wasn’t thinking very logically or clearly.  After signing up online, and realizing what this meant, I started to feel the anxiety. In the following few months, there were multiple times where I convinced myself that I could always back out and not run in the race. I mean I would loose the money, but it’s ok, save the humiliation and trouble.

Fast forward many months, I’m down to less than a week until the half-marathon. It’s been quite the journey, training, and pushing myself to run more than I’ve ever run. Also, training in Singapore has proven to have it’s own set of challenges, like finding a good time, which usually is early morning or late at night to run outside in the tropical climate.  I’m not really sure how I’ve made it up to this point, since running is still not something I really enjoy doing.

This past Sunday morning, I had my last long run. We ran  19.3 km (12 miles) at East Coast Park. When we got there, it was still dark at 6am. The first few kilometers are always difficult for me. This time, as I started running, I wondered why I was doing this to myself. Around 6km, I had my chocolate gu (energy gel) and things seemed to get better. As I slowly reached the halfway point, I felt a glimmer of hope that I could make it.  I started to mentally count down the number of kilometers left, and I started to think about the end and what delicious foods I would eat afterwards…


Then, I was at about 16 kilometers, and I just felt like I couldn’t run anymore. My knee was bothering me, the hot Singapore sun was finally up, and I didn’t know how I could possibly run anymore. I kept drinking water and the second Gu I ate didn’t seem to help at all. I knew my friend I was running with was probably almost done and I had to finish. So I started to make smaller goals for myself. Run to at least to one more song, then walk, then run again until the end. I honestly wanted to cry or stop, but I knew the end was so close. That last two kilometers took all of my mental will power to keep going. As I started seeing the palm trees that lined the path towards the car park where we started, I kept running. I finally managed to finish my longest run ever, and felt ready for the half-marathon. So please keep me in your prayers as I run this coming Sunday morning in Cambodia!

Here are some photos from my early morning runs at East Coast Park. It’s definitely my favorite place to run in Singapore.


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no more excuses


After much going back and forth in my mind, I walked out onto my balcony and it felt cooler than the normal 90 degree weather, so I made a decision. I decided to to run outside.  I looked up on my google maps, how far the distance was to MacRitchie reservoir and I realized that it wasn’t too far. I could run to the reservoir and back, and I remembered that the route I took on the bus seemed pretty easy.

Once I got outside of my apartment building, I quickly felt like i was running in my own video game, dodging people walking on the sidewalks, waiting at stoplights to cross the big streets, passing by people eating outside, and making sure I didn’t trip over any uneven sidewalks, like I did in Chicago.  I found that running on the busy night streets of Singapore was more exciting then expected. Besides making sure I didn’t get run over by any taxis, and the humid weather, I found it bearable tonight.

As I continued my run, at one point, I saw an Asian guy waiting at the crosswalk in front of me. I thought, oh great, I don’t want to be stuck running behind someone, because that’s always kind of awkward. So as soon as the light turned green, I sprinted ahead of him so there would hopefully be a distance. Then, there was a big set of stairs in front of me as I was reaching closer I saw from the corner of my eye the same guy running ahead of me and up the stairs, I kept going straight on the path and felt a sense of relief.

A little while later, the same guy zoomed ahead of me. I must have been running really slow, considering how he caught up to me while going up and down a big flight of stairs. Other than that moment of personal embarrassment, I continued to run back to my apartment and I started to feel a glimpse of hope.

I decided that running needs to be a priority for these next two months as I train for my first half-marathon. Despite the huge amounts of anxiety I get when I think about how much I actually have to run on race day, I decided that I can’t give up yet. I will continue my small steps in training and pray real hard that my training plan will prepare me for race day.  So join me on my running journey. And don’t let me have any more excuses.

Some of the bright and lovely sights on my run tonight!

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the surprise


It’s official, I’m no longer a plant killer. After multiple attempts over the years to grow and keep plants in my apartment, I was never too successful.  Last year, I bought an orchid plant from the wet market near by and it did well for the first month of so. But quickly, I saw it’s downfall as it lost all of it’s flowers and all that was left were it’s green leaves. However, instead of throwing it out, I decided to keep it. I still continued to water it as it stayed out on my balcony through the unchanging Singapore season.

After a long summer back in the States, I came back, and to my surprise, I saw some new buds growing. I honestly couldn’t really believe that the plant was still alive. A week later, the flowers started to bloom one by one. Now, it looked like a brand new orchid; stronger, full of life, and still growing.

I was talking to a co-worker about a student who was quite difficult in her class two years ago, but now this student was doing much better as a fifth grader. She joked how all that hard work she put into that kid was finally paying off.  Just like that orchid plant that I continued to water and take care of, sometimes you might not see any visible changes immediately with the children you work with.

As an international school teacher, we are in a very transient community and it’s hard to see how your students have grown when many of them move to different countries or schools after the school year. I wonder how my students that I taught in Korea are doing now that I’ve lost touch with many of them.  However, that doesn’t mean you made any less of an impact.

Every time I look at my orchid plant, in full bloom, I am still in awe. I touch it’s flowers and make sure it’s really still alive and healthy. So let’s continue to have a bit more patience. Let’s continue to hope when there seems to be no signs of growth. And let’s continue to breathe life into the lives of our students.

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a southern {love} story


The first stop on my summer travels was Memphis, Tennessee. This was my second time visiting Memphis. Last year I had visited, and my brother was starting his first year of residency, settling into a new place and single. It’s funny how quickly things can change within a year. Here I was back in Memphis after one year, and this time to witness and be part of my brother’s wedding. He met her last fall at the hospital and now they were getting married less than a year after starting dating.

Yes it happened all so quickly, yet it worked. Even in the short time that I’ve seen them together, I could see how they humbly seek after God together. I was so blessed by the entire time, through the wedding ceremony, and spending time with all of the family and friends gathered. The worship time during the wedding was so powerful. As we were singing  a song, One Thirst, I was so moved. I was overwhelmed by God’s love and His presence there. I know that there are greater things in store for the both of them as a married couple!

I know how at times when their siblings get married you can feel like  you are “loosing” them to another person, but I’ve already witnessed how I’m gaining so much from the two of them together. They are truly a beautiful couple on the inside and outside. Thank you for your continued love and support.

Lyrics from One Thirst by Bethel Live

You say to us seek Your face
Our hearts reply, Your face we seek
And come teach us Lord, reveal Your ways
Anoint us for the greater things.

We have gathered with one thirst and hunger
We’re here to drink of glory and wonder,
Here to cry out
Come and fill this place
Come and fill this place

And our single wish, our sole desire
To gaze upon Your beauty God
We will not rest, nor will we cease
Till with our eyes, Your face we see.

Pictures from my iphone using pudding camera! 🙂

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Stay tuned for more posts on my summer travels in the States!

Vietnam Part 2: The Food


Yes, this might be the important of my posts on my trip to Vietnam. This is all about the food I experienced there. I always loved Vietnamese food that I ate in the States. However, I quickly found out that the food that I liked to eat from Saigon Grill and other Pho places were different from the actual food in Vietnam. I’m assuming that they change the food a bit to fit our western palates a bit.

There were certain dishes I was expecting and I didn’t find them to be quite the same in Vietnam. Our first night, we asked the hotel front desk for a recommendation for a good dinner place. They pointed us to a street and said this was where the locals eat. So our first night there, we had our map in our hand and attempted to navigate through the confusing and busy streets in the old quarter. We luckily managed to weave our way through endless scooters and dark streets to find the street. We didn’t realize that it wasn’t really a restaurant inside, but there were multiple food stalls outside on the sidewalk with small stools and tables (very close to the street) that we would sit on.

We randomly chose one of the places, and sat down. They asked us what we wanted  and pointed to the menu, which listed 4 items which we couldn’t read. Then we said we wanted the chicken dish. They asked if we wanted rice or noodles. We said noodles and hoped for the best. After a few minutes, we were given two large bowls of pho with chicken. It was delicious. There was a clear and refreshing broth filled with thicker flat white noodles and pieces of chicken breast. It didn’t taste like any of the pho I had back at home and it only cost about 2 US dollars.

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The next day, we participated in a cooking class. Again, we weren’t really sure what to expect. It cost $30 per person and it would be in a restaurant near us. My friend Laura and I got picked up and taken to the restaurante, blue butterfly. We arrived and our instructor greeted us. We were the only 2 in the class! He had a lot of the ingredients set up already like the meet and some vegetables. However, he took us on a walk to the market to buy the rest of the ingredients. The market place in itself was an adventure. We saw all sorts of things, which I’m assuming were meant to be eaten, like turtles, eels, squid, frogs and even some kittens. I’m hoping the kittens were for pets?

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After our walk to the market place, we picked up noodles, sliced green papayas and a few other vegetables. We started cooking. We made spring rolls, green papaya salad and lemon grass chicken with chillis. It was fun being able to participate in cooking some authentic Vietnamese food. Our chef created some fun designs with the fruits and veggies to decorate our plates as well. We followed a recipe for 5 servings and in the end it was only my friend and I that ate the food. We ended up having way too much food! Hopefully, I’ll be able to cook up some of these dishes on my own now.

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A Life on Water


Slice of Life Challenge Day #31

After a week in Vietnam, there were many eye opening moments and memories. One of the lasting things from the trip, besides crossing the scooter filled streets everyday, was seeing the fishing villages in Halong Bay. Halong bay in itself was a beautiful natural wonder. I had no idea that it would be so big and that there were so many boats there filled with tourists.

On the first day of our boat cruise, we got to go kayaking around one of the fishing villages. We kayaked around and through their village and  I felt like I was intruding. They were probably used to all these tourists kayaking through their village every day. Yet, I felt like I got a small peek of their life. Their houses which were floating on top of the water with boats parked next to them I saw dogs outside, kids playing, women cooking food and people just sitting in their homes.

Afterwards, I had so many questions racing through my mind. What would it be like to be grow up pretty much living on water instead of land? How often did they get a chance to go on land? Did they interact often with other fishing villages? Did they go swimming often in the water? Where did they go to the bathroom?  How close of a community were the people in the fishing village? How did the kids go to school? How did they feel about all these tourists kayaking through their village every day?

I just couldn’t imagine growing up in a fishing village and living on the water. I did a bit more research and found an informative article on the history of these fishing villages here. I also found out that they are trying to get the people in these villages to move onto the mainland. I still find it incredibly fascinating that these people have been living on the water for many generations, making a living off the fishing that they do.


More photos to come on my trip to Vietnam! Stay tuned… 

the art of crossing


Slice of Life Challenge Day #30

The Art of Crossing

In NYC, you cross the street by looking both ways and if the street is clear of cars, buses, taxis or buses, you cross. A true New Yorker doesn’t pay much attention to weather the pedestrian crossing sign is red or green. New Yorkers are always busy and have some place to go.

In Seoul, you cross the street  by looking at the pedestrian crossing sign. Jaywalking is not as common as people will usually wait to cross.

In Singapore, you cross the street by looking to your left first, then to your right, since they drive on the left side of the road. I definitely had a few close encounters of looking at the wrong side when I first arrived. People tend to wait for the crosswalk sign to turn green. Singapore is pretty strict with their laws here! 🙂

In Hanoi, you look to check there are no cars coming right away then you just cross the street, not paying too much attention to the hundreds of scooters (motor bikes) coming your way. Our tour guide told us that there are about 1-3 scooters per person. When there are more than 6 million people in Hanoi,  that is a a lot of scooters on the narrow streets.

We quickly learned the art of crossing the street here after a week. You would very rarely see pedestrian crossing signs on the streets in the old quarter. Our technique worked quite well. You crossed quickly and looked straight ahead, without making eye contact with the mass of scooters and cars coming your way. It was easier for the scooters to weave around you as you walk then you stopping and waiting for the scooters to cease. The fact was, the scooters coming down the street were endless. You would be waiting all day to cross the street.

We were able to cross efficiently and safely using our method, even though most times inside I felt incredibly terrified that I would get hit.  Hanoi was definitely the only city I’ve been to where all the rules to crossing the street were completely opposite than what I was used to.

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Arrival in Vietnam


Slice of Life Challenge Day #25

After a comfortable 3 hour flight from Singapore to Vietnam, we arrived at the airport in Hanoi. We had gotten our visa forms filled out electronically before leaving. It wasn’t the actual visa, but we would pick up our visa upon arrival at the airport.

My friend and I saw the sign for the place to pick up visa’s upon arrival. There was a line that was already formed and very slowly moving. As we got closer to the front, we realized that people were picking up their passport from the man in the front. Yet, the sign said visas upon arrival so we thought this was the right line. We finally got to the front of the line and he told us with a few hand gestures to go to the other booth on the inside. This was where we had to drop off our passport first. Feeling a bit frustrated that we waited for no reason,we went to the other side. There was no line on the other side. We tried to ask a few questions, but the guy just took our visas and our papers. No explanation.

We went back to the other side and waited by the front of the booth this time. There was a long line, but actually no point in waiting in the line, since the one guy working at the booth would just hold up the passports and call out names from behind the glass. You had to be paying close attention or near the front. So we waited by the front,  with a group of foreigners feeling frustrated by this unclear process. We waited and our names got called pretty quickly. We picked up our passports with the visa inside.

We paid the $45 and handed in our passport photo as well. Then, we had to wait on the immigration line and figure out where our luggage was. It made me miss the quick and efficient airport service I was used to in Singapore and Korea. Luckily our driver was waiting for us outside the gate and we arrived to our hotel safely! Stay tuned for more adventures from Vietnam…