The adventures of Jo!

April 20, 2007, 12:56 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Hello! So I am back teaching! Yesterday it was the first day of school again! This was a bit weird after two weeks holidays but also very nice! My trip to

DAY 1: Arrival in
Bangkok and immediately to Khorat where I met my uncle, his Thai girlfriend and her family. We went to her home, in Phimai, a village close to Khorat. It was very nice to meet her family!
DAY 2: The family of Nut showed me around the neighbourhood. A museum, Thai temple, Khmer temple (looks a bit like
Angkor wat but then the small sister. The Cambodians had a lot of power years ago!),… interesting day, to visit these things together with a Thai family.
DAY 3: to
Bangkok, together with Benny and Nut.
DAY 4: sightseeing in bangkok. Very nice things.. The palace, some temples,... some temples are different then the temples in
Cambodia, more colors, more special Buddha statues,…
DAY 5:to museum in
Bangkok and some shopping.
DAY 6: Bus to Sukhothai. I arrived in a very nice guesthouse, Guesthouse TR. Nice owner, nice family… they pick you up free from the station and bring you back too. and free internet too. I can recommend it!DAY 7: with the bicycle to the historical park in Sukhothai. Ruins, temples,and a very nice park… really nice to visit. Especially with the bike because the weather was fine and I liked it to go around…DAY 8: with the bus to chiang mai! I arrived and I got wet immediately… because there was the Thai New year festival and it is celebrated by throwing water on everything that moves. I personally like the idea but they are a bit toooo excited in this stuff. Throwing water on everyone who is driving looks a bit dangerous for me. Drinking a lot and driving then too, especially if you find out that 300 people died during these days. Anyway, the water throwing was very very fun to see, the city had gone CRAZY. Really crazy. Really cool to look. But after two days it was also enough, because you are all the time sooo wet and cold (because they throw ice too)DAY 9: Together with Yam and her family (evelien, a Belgian friend, lived in this family for three months) showed me around. We visited the royal gardens, a beautiful temple and then we went around with the car to throw water! DAY 10: on a one day trek with my guesthouse (eagle house 1. very simple and very cheap. But I had everything that I wanted and it was clean, and I only need simple, so that was great! The staff could be more friendly though). Beautiful nature. Chiang mai is surrounded by mountains, really nice. We did some bamboorafting (beautiful. But wet), elephant riding (very funny), walking, visiting of hilltribes, waterfall. DAY 11: a bit of walking around the town with my raincoat on ;-). I saw some beautiful temples, where the people also celebrated the festival but more quiet, more serene. Really nice to see. Then I went to this really nice Spa and treated myself on a two hours massage. MmmmmmmmmDAY 12: cooking course on Thai cookery farm ( ) really nice cooking course, I can advice too! It is in a farm outside chiang mai, just the road to it is worth it! Beautiful and quiet... The staff was so friendly, small group and the food soooooooooooo yummie and easy to make. DAY 13: In the morning I did a cycling tour with an organisation of a Belgian man ( Also small group and a very nice guide who told me some things I didn’t know yet about
Thailand, Buddhism… nice nature, some temples,… also something I can recommend if you are in chiang mai!
In the afternoon I walked a bit around in town and in the evening I had my flight back. So that was it! Really nice holiday, very interesting because I did and saw things I never had seen or done before. Also travelling alone was nice, I am happy that I have done this. I met also a lot of people, really nice. Also the Thai people were very friendly to me. It was also good for me to see another country in south
East Asia. Although there are some things the same as in
Cambodia, like the religion, some habits, norms,… the country is more developed. It made me realise how poor
Cambodia is. For me it was weird to see that there was electricity and water in a village in
Thailand, and that the people had things like a fridge… in Cambodian villages they don’t have. It was also weird for me to find this surprising because normally it should be normal for me, electricity and stuff.

Also the roads were much better.. and so many cars and so less motos! And it was clean for me. And modern, and organised… and there were ATMmachines and Thai people used these machines! And supermarkets! And all these things… It was also funny because I heard other people talk about how dirty and not organised
Thailand was for them, how chaotic it looked for them. For me, it was different because I lived already six months in Cambodia, which is more chaotic, dirty,… to be honest, I even missed the chaotic and dirty and smelly Cambodian markets for example. I don’t know why. Anyway, it made me think about a lot of things, about poverty, development, also about how I see some things now,… very interesting!
Thailand was very nice. Very beautiful country and of course very different than
Europe too
J nice culture, nice temples, nice food… beautiful nature. And much more comfortable to travel in than
 So anyway, I am happy that I did this holiday! Now back to work!  

ByebyeBig kissJoxxxPs pictures on site! 


And already march!
March 26, 2007, 2:10 pm
Filed under: my life in cambodia

It’s already the end of March… wow, times goes fast…….. Anyway, I am still fine! March was a very calm month but also a nice month… We didn’t go very far, just in
Phnom Penh but I did some interesting things though! Maybe tomorrow I will put some pictures online from the next activities:
I went one day with the first year’s students to a kind of garden. They were all so excited we wanted to come with them and they were very happy. I also went to visit a house of a girl, also first years. Very friendly family, nice neighbourhood, only too much food!! And more student related activities: yesterday I went to a party of a girl from the second year. It was a party for her new born niece so I could buy cute clothes! Jeuj!Oh, and one day I also went again with the CCH (see February) to do some activities in a poor neighbourhood in
Phnom Penh. It was weird, a completely different part of the city where you normally come as a tourist… no cars, very small streets, and a lot of garbage/dust…. But it was nice.
So I think it was a month in which I saw again a bit more of
Cambodia’s life.

It is also getting hotter… but last week it rained so that was so nice… the smell and the sound of the rain… 

Ohohohoh and good news! Two of my evening class students (=staff) are going to marry next month!!!!!! I am so happy for them, they are two lovely students!!! It went very quickly, because they are not so long boy and girlfriend… they wanted to wait a little bit but their family decided also a little bit. But they look very happy!! And maybe I will go to the party too!  


This week we have exams and then holidays! I will go to
Thailand but I will tell you more about it when I come back…..


March 6, 2007, 2:28 pm
Filed under: my life in cambodia, projects, sponsoring!, travelling in cambodia

Oops I am sorry for my absence… but… I am back! And apparently you still want to read because there are still people visiting my site, even if I didn’t write for such a long time. Probably I didn’t write because I have” my personal diary” and I type everything in emails and not on this site. Anyway, I am fine! Still teaching (which is sometimes very nice, a lot of fun and also rewarding. And sometimes frustrating) and visiting the country and enjoying and getting brown (well, “Jo brown” which means white with a little brown color in it)  

But…February… If I think about last month I think about….: 

*The Garbage dump. In February I “visited” two times the dump. If you think about all the garbage the capital in your country and you put it all just on the ground, and you imagine high temperature, no rain (for the moment) ,: you can imagine how it looks. And how it smells. A big mountain, smoke, bad bad smell. And people working on it. And (naked) children. Little children. If you see toddlers running around barefoot, as if it is normal (well, I guess for them it is normal. But that makes it even worse), like in a garden, you ask yourself questions. They shouldn’t be there. But they have to work, pick the garbage. For almost no money. They live in a house next to the garbage. The “a room with a view” gets a new meaning here! Anyway, I visited the first time with a lot of children of the CCH (see links on this page! On your left side I think). They are children who used to work on this dump. Now they are in the centre. Sometimes they come back: they give the children who are on the dump bread, they play with them, they read stories, they dance, they learn them to wash their hands… very very beautiful to see, an experience I will never forget. I visited the CCH and the dump the second time with my mother (see later). It was nice to see them all again, very nice children and staff, they gave you anytime a warm welcome. Of course it is good, they take care of the children who should not be on this dump. It is even very good. And it is also good if you support them (about supporting: a part of your sponsormoney went also to the CCH!) but still I think other things there should be done. Why do the people have to do this kind of job? Why is there this awful smelly mountain in the first place? But apparently nobody here, who is important enough to change things, is asking these questions.  

*the visit of The Mother. Mothers are weird creatures, no? They say they are scared of flying and that they are not interested in countries which are so far away. And still, one day they are standing in front of your nose. And with a lot of chocolate, “Den Humo” and Jenever (but keep this quiet for the sisters). Very nice to show someone at home how my life is here. And to have some decent conversations, in Dutch! We visited some things in the country, some projects too,… and we stayed here in the centre, my mother was in my class sometimes (good student!), she learned to dance,…. Yes, very nice. You can admire our faces on the pictures page 

*One year!February was also the month of realising that time goes fast (when you are in love). 

“That’s all, teacher!” (The way my students end something when they speak or write)  



a mirror in a box…
January 28, 2007, 1:17 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized


I would like to share a story with you…

Every morning there is goodmorning talk to the girls. so or the sisters or the teachers speak about something. last tuesday it was my turn. the subject was about sharing your m ission or vocation.

anyway,  I started by saying you can have different “missions”in life and that for me it is just something you really want to do, you really feel it inside and then you try to do… or something like that, i dont know anymore.. but i said something about my past (studies..) and maybe my future (work, marriage or not,…) and then i said, but you all know what my last “mission”or “vocation”or whatever you want to call it, is.

That is coming to cambodia ofcourse. I told them a lot of people dont really understand. THey ask me, why do you go so far? and why for so long?And you must be crazy to work without money. and what about your family and your friends and boyfriend?

“So i thought about this question. And the answer is in this little box ( people who did CMcamps might know it, i had the idea from there). In the box there is something really important for me, it is the reason why i am here, and it is also very very beautiful. “ofcourse, all the students wanted to know what was inside.. but i said i was too shy to show them.. but after a while i said “ok, i will show you but one by one because i am too shy in front of a group to show this”

what was inside, well, it is in the title of this topic. (and first i want to say i really mean this because i realised that i am here for them and that is why i like it.. ofcourse there are other reasons too, but this is the main one. i only realised it when I was here already). but this is not the thing i wanted to share.

i didnt know what i expected how the girls would react when they saw the mirror but it was very strange for me. they started to laugh and laugh or shout “oooo teacher”and sometimes I asked them do you understand? and they came back to have another look and looked very confused, if they didnt understand. nobody else said something about it. So i didnt know if they understand so i felt weird.

but then, friday in my class… There was a girl holding a diary of Kunthea, another girl. she was trying to get it open (it was with a lock). Kunthea said to me, teacher teacher, do you want to see my diary? and i said no, it is your diary, i dont want to know.. and i told once my brother read my diary when i was a kid and i was very angry.. and by the way, it is in Khmer no? and she said she wrote in english… (she is one of the best students english, also really motivated)

anyway, five minutes later, she opened her diary and said, teacher, you really have to read this…

so i read (i am also still a human being who is curious!)

‘today i was very happy because teacher jo told us about her vocation and about coming to cambodia”and then the explanation that i had a box etc.. “i was one of the last ones. i heard the reaction of the other students and i soooo wanted to know what was inside the box. when it was my turn and i opened the box, I saw myself. because there was a mirror in the box. but the meaning of this mirror is much bigger, you cannot explain in words”

I thought this was beautiful.

so now you know too why i am here working for free and far away 😉

Back in time? (or: “to believe or not” number two!)
January 16, 2007, 3:20 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

The last weeks I had sometimes the feeling that I was 50 years back in time. First of all, I want to say I am not talking about
cambodia itself, but about some values and ways of thinking from the sisters here. And I don’t mean it bad, I mean that I don’t think we are so much better or that they will have to think the same as us. What I do mean is that some things the sisters say here, do remind me of the time in
Belgium years ago…
To give examples, I guess you will be thinking”oooo”and “aaaa”and “oh god, so oldfashioned” or why not “jo, what are you doing there” when you are reading these!-girls who wear bikini are bad girls. They don’t have any respect for their body. (Imagine: I heard this when the sister was telling this to the girls. Some months ago I showed my bikini to these girls, telling about that this is what we wear on the beach… I don’t know what the girls think now!!)-confession!!! (last time, I hide myself… I feel like a teenager)-puritiy and chastity! (for the dutch speaking: kuisheid dus!) -prostitutes don’t have values. They want to have easy money. They treat themselves as objects. (I never talked to a prostitute but I know people who did and I read articles too. I don’t agree… I think the sisters should go and talk with them too)-women who choose for abortion don’t have values. They don’t have respect for life. (oh, I wished one of the sisters could experience pregnancy. I don’t really believe any woman is very happy with this decision but there are some situations where I think it is the best choice)-our god is more powerfull than every other god. (and now I don’t tell about some citations about the islam but you can use your imagination) -be a good woman! Clean well and work hard in the house! If you husband sees this, he will love you and respect you and he will not beat you! (Note to David, if you are planning to only love me if I clean well, I think I will beat you!! Hihi 😉 ) 

anyway, I will stop now with the citations. I think you know what I mean.But if you think about it, it is not sooo long ago that also people in
belgium thought about this. I think there are still some people who think like this.
But now I think you also have certain sentences in your mind about the sisters here. I know because I thought the same. BUT then we are doing the same as they do… We judge. I don’t really know where I want to go with this, but what I want to tell. I live here in this situation where people around me judge differently about what is good, what is bad. If they would know more about me, my history, my thoughts, I don’t know what, they would consider me maybe as bad (or maybe not, but I think they would pray for me a lot). But I don’t really believe that I am bad. But I also see that these women are not bad. The sisters work hard, they really want the best with their students, their children, they have their dreams to help these people who are poor and they want to offer them good education. They work themselves into the hospital (really, some weeks ago there was a sister who had to rest a week in another country because she didn’t sleep enough here). And you can also admire their belief in some way, although you don’t have to agree. What they think or belief, is just a consequence of their own education, their formation, their culture, and their way of living. They don’t really come in contact with certain people or with the real world. And being afraid of others, of the thing you don’t know.. well.. it is not only typical for the sisters no? I can give examples from in
belgium too. (I think I don’t need to give them but a lot of you think about the same things that happened last year, or about a certain very “friendly”political party).
So I live here with them. I see that they are not bad, but I also sometimes feel like screaming to them that they should open their eyes and don’t judge people (and also not me!). So I have to find a way to deal with it, no? well, in the beginning I was still thinking, I will be honest and if they ask me a question about something, I will answer honestly and try to explain them. Well, although I still think this would be maybe a good thing to do, I don’t do this. Because I don’t think they would really try to listen or try to understand. Maybe that is the only thing where I have problems with. I don’t really care about the things they say. But I don’t like it that they don’t try to listen and to change. But I know they will not really listen, anyway, not to me at least. The change or openess should come from someone inside them, and I am not planning to become a sister… So what I do now, is listen, say yes, and just avoid some subjects while I am talking with them and think my own thing. And try to understand why they say it, but also still know what I am thinking is not bad either. I was thinking if someone not sure of herself was here, maybe she would be more confused of it. But on the other hand, in my lessons, in my contact with the girls… I will tell them things about myself and about my country. I want them to see that I am not bad because I have a boyfriend or whatever…. I also noticed the girls know very well how to handle the sisters. A lot of the girls are buddhists, so for them it is also sometimes not easy. But yesterday, the sister asked what they want in the future. Ofcourse the sister was delighted when the group said “I want to live with good values”. But I saw the faces of the girls too, which was very funny, they know the sister would be very happy with that answer. But wait a second, ofcourse these girls want to live with good values, I really believed that they mean it. But I don’t believe this is the first thing a 20 years old girl says when you ask her what she wants in the future. I think people answer normally more concrete things on this question. 

Another thing I try to remember is that I can be very angry with people in
belgium too because they don’t think about other people or they don’t try to understand other people experiences. It is something that I sometimes don’t really understand, it is not so difficult. The world would be more beautiful if people try to understand and listen to eachother and try to accept the differences and not to have their own right everywhere. I can have big discussions here with the sisters about abortion, but what will be the consequence? I am not changing my opinion and they will not too, the only thing is that we will have a bad feeling after and maybe don’t like eachother. so it is better to try to respect and understand eachother
Some discussions or wars are quiet useless. We are different. So what? Ofcourse it is difficult to make no judgements at all, everybody does it, sometimes very small ones. But I think you should try to discover them and be conscious about it. If I would make my religion, this would be important for me. Stay open, look around, listen to other people, don’t be afraid of them, try to imagine how it is living in their situation and try to do nothing that will really hurt them and do only things you feel good about and if you do things with other people, they should feel good about it too.  

Anyway, more concrete things. I am still fine! Exams finished, they were quiet good. have met some parents, very nice. The teaching is starting again and I like it although patience is still necessary! With bernadeth is everything ok. And last Sunday I met two belgian doctor students doing their workexperience here, which was nice! And in one month my mother is here! So, time is flying again…I hope you are well! 


happy new year!
January 3, 2007, 3:18 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Another year passed by! 2006 was -if i look back- a really strange year, a lot of things happened! my last year at uni, the struggle with thesis, the feeling of I have enough from studies and certain professors, operation of my  mother, homesick to dublin, more living independently in Ghent, the decision to come to cambodia and all the organisation and thinking and doubts involved with it, and ofcourse David (I wanted to write a really nice sentence about it, but I can not really write what I think/feel, but i guess writing this is nice too no? 🙂 )

whoops if I am reading this, it looks like I am growing up!

And then, for 2007… I dont really make resolutions.. and i dont want to look forward that much, it is like the first time that I dont really know what will come this year! other years you know, oh yeah, next year I am still studying.. but now it is dark. but so many possibilities and chances. it is great!

anyway, here in cambodia everything is fine for the moment. christmas was nice, although there were also not very nice things (ilaria left to italy due to problems with kidney and eyes… me and berna were a little bit sick at that time so it was very confusing/weird to say goodbye like that) .

new years eve was nice too. me, berna and caroline (english volunteer from another school) dived into the nightlife of Phnom Penh which is quiet interesting to observe. Ofcourse this involves sextourism too, which everybody knows if you see programs on television about thailand, cambodia,…

anyway, i am tired from correcting exams (yes, examtime here! boring for a teacher… ) so I am going to end it here.

i wish everyone of you a fantastic 2007, and i wish you challenges and dreams, an open and non-judgmental look (okay, i know this is wrong english but who cares? dont judge me! hehe..) into the world and a lot of love

Jo x

Merry christmas!
December 23, 2006, 10:29 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Dear people,

THe last weeks I had an overdosis christmas but for the moment I am still enjoying it (because it is not christmas yet!)

We didnt had a lot of english classes and if we had it was not our normal class or with more students… so they were strange weeks but fun.

last weekend our girls had to sell at two markets. so the week before: a lot of baking! saturday they sold cookies, cakes,… at the international church. oooo so good that these things were. njammieeeeeeeeeee. on sunday there was a christmas bazaar in the other don bosco centre were they sold a lot of food.

This week was all the time preparing for yesterday… so yesterday… in the morning they were free, a lot of playing, dancing, music… super! in the afternoon we had the christmas play. I was first christmas tree in the dance rocking around the christmas tree.. and than one of the three kings. oh it was very nice…. in the evening we went again to the other centre for the Khmer Christmas Carol (based on Dickens). nicenice! today we had party with the staff and the teachers. here i participated in the fashion show… and we had food and a lot of ice cream!

and the real celebrations still have to come!!!

 but although busy and tiring days (this morning they woke the girls up with loud christmas music.. at 5.30!!! auw) it was nice… and all the people were so happy and it was a lot of fun. I really  love these people…

 anyway, I am putting some pictures online from all these activities! go and have a look! also have a look at this website: 

oh yeah, and have a nice christmas!