The Kindness of Strangers Means So Much

#sol21- April 13, 2021

I was surprised when the phone rang. My phone almost never rings- the last time was a random call from Lithuania (surely a scam call). I glanced at the number- it was local and I was pretty sure I had seen the number before, sooo…

“Hello,” I said.

“Hello, ma’aam, DHL. I’m here, are you home?”

I was confused- I knew that there were two deliveries from Amazon due today (I know, I would much rather not get books via Amazon, but they do manage to get me most of the books I want at double the cost, here is Phnom Penh), but the delivery address was my school.

“I am not at school, but you can leave it with the guards,” I said.

“No, no- are you at home?” he asked.

“I am, but the address you have is my work address and you can leave the packages there,” I insisted.

He went on for a bit longer, but I was convinced that I had been clear and he would leave the packages with the guards at school, as it has happened this way in the past.

It is Khmer New Year break and we are teaching online anyway, so I knew I would get the books eventually.

Not too long later I got a message.

“Hi,

This is XXXX at the Secondary Office and a DHL delivery man asked me for a favor to contact you regarding your package from overseas. As security guard didn’t accept the package on behalf of you, the DHL man will hold it until after Khmer New Year. But he can deliver it to your house if you request the DHL office and provide them with your current address.”

Whaaa??? I may have cried a little- this super kind delivery man and the way he reached out to a contact who could in turn reach out to me- I do not know either of these people, wow!

A few messages later to the person in the secondary office at my school (who I do not know, who is on break) and I had the number for the DHL office and the waybill numbers of the deliveries.

I HATE to make phone calls- especially when I am pretty sure I will not be clearly understood, so I immediately took the plunge.

I dialed and the woman who answered spoke in a mixture of Khmer and English, so I forged ahead in English and explained my dilemma. She asked a few questions and took down the information.

“It can’t be delivered until tomorrow, sister,” she said. (Sister is a polite term here.)

“Thank you so much! Thank you for all of your help and thank you for speaking English. You have been so very kind and patient.”

When I got off the phone I cried a bit more. How could these people be so kind, to me, this stranger?!

I immediately texted the phone number of the delivery man who had called me to express my thanks.

Later I looked up which books will be arriving and I know that having them here will enrich my break.

I am constantly overwhelmed by the kindness of strangers, especially during this weird pandemic time. When I have moments like this I am reminded of the kind of person I want to be- kinder than necessary, for sure!

(As a bonus, I am totally confident that the packages will arrive).

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When Your Teacher Brain Is on Overdrive

I finally stepped away from the computer, the siren call of approving “just one more” Seesaw post echoing in my brain. I grabbed my lunch from the oven (pupusas, yum!) and gratefully pulled my book open (Halfway to Harmony- if you teach grades 3-6 I heartily recommend it!). I was determined to have a 15 minute break from the screen!

The crispy outside demanded my full concentration so that lunch would end up on the floor, when what, to my horror, should happen…my school brain fired up…

Fractions, of course, it is that time of year in third grade! Do you have that happen too? Once you are teaching something you see it EVERYWHERE!?

This afternoon I was trying to explain the problem to my third graders. I said, “I was all settled down for a relaxing lunch, when I had a problem!”

I showed picture 1. “It looks yummy,” A called out.

“Yes, it was! But before I tasted it I did this…” and I showed the second picture.

“Fractions!”

” You made fractions!”

“You ate fractions!”One after another they saw my problem- fractions are taking over our lives.

“Who else ran into fractions today?” I asked and a few students described their encounters.

“Are we reading a book today?” A asked (we always do in our afternoon Zoom).

“Of course, ” I replied, ” back to our regularly scheduled programming.”

Wouldn’t you know it, but we managed to find a way to talk about fractions even in the book we read. At least I know they will encounter fractions in their life outside school. I see this all as a sign that I am ready for a brea- my teacher brain needs a rest (3 more days, not that I am counting… ).