Back At Friendship Village

Well, I wound up back at the village, and have been here for 3 days. It is a funny sort of trip. There are only a few people here who speak a little English, and they are all women with very soft voices, so with my hearing, you can imagine how that is working out. I seldom have more than a rough idea what's going on, but I just try to go with the flow, and so far it's working pretty well.

It's not clear that I'm doing much good as a tutor. The computer class is teaching how to do glitzy stuff in Word & PowerPoint, the kind of stuff I've never been much interested in. The teacher is very good, and some of the students are very sharp, and know how to do that stuff better than me. The teachers for embroidery, sewing, and flower-making must be good also, because their students make beautiful products, though sometimes painfully laboriously.

In the classrooms for lower-functioning children, it seems like a different story. The children are pretty much left to themselves, to play with Legos or blocks, or just sit there. I've spent some useful time with them, playing catch with beanbags, etc. Today I bought a CD player to see if we can get a little dancing going. Anyway, the children seem to appreciate a little attention and caressing. Their need for affection is very touching.

The school is supported by an international consortium, but apparently not very well, because when I offered to buy the CD player, soccer ball, etc, thay said that would be very nice, but would I also buy some paper and pens!

The veterans and I have great rapport, despite our almost total inability to communicate concrete information. So far I think they understand that I am married and have 4 sons. Of course it didn't hurt that I bought beer for dinner the other night. They are really fine men (and a couple women). This is supposed to be R & R for them for a couple months, but there is really nothing for them to do except drink tea, smoke from their bong (tobacco), and watch TV. Hence the soccer ball. I think they are interested in me as a curious distraction.

I haven't said anything about what may be a burning question for some of you: how is the beer. I'm happy to say that it's pretty good - seems there has been a Czeck influence. And I have no trouble ordering: the word is "bi'a", pronounced "bee-ah".

Back in less than a week,