The dedicated Harry Potter fans out there might remember the bemusing Gilderoy Lockart, author of a series of books about the exploits unsuspecting adventurers that he attributed to his own prowess. One of these books was titled Travels with Trolls and that’s the inspiration for the title of today’s post.
No, I am not traveling with trolls. No, I have not had children since my last post. No, I am not offering advice on how to travel with children because I have no experience in such things.
I am, however, getting ready for a week-long trip to Cambodia with the grade ten class at my school. There are about 90 of us on this trip, and 12 of them are exclusively my responsibility. I have to admit, that’s rather terrifying.
In addition to regular teaching, the grade 10 advisory team has spent the last three weeks collecting medical forms, health insurance forms, trip waiver forms, passport copies, and passport photos. We’ve spent hours sorting out who will be in which room at the hotels and on which flights. Just when we thought we had it all figured out, about 15 new kids joined the school and about half of those want to go on the trip. And the process repeats.
The past two days after school I have gone to the money changer to change literally more money than I have ever held into small US bills so we can pay the $35 per person visa fees at the airport in Cambodia. Note to people who are unfamiliar with visas-on-arrival: Airports require USD in exact change or in very close to exact change. They will happily take your $50 and send you on your way if that’s all you’ve brought with you (and if the airport isn’t busy enough for you to hope for change).
All that aside, I’m really looking forward to the trip. Once we land in Cambodia, a very cool educational tour group is partnering with us and they are responsible for everything related to the itinerary, programming, and experience that the kids will have. Awesome job, right? We’ll be working with social enterprises and NGOs, participating in circus school, taking a cooking class, biking through town to visit local businesses, hiking to a temple, and learning what social activism means. Had I known one could have a job facilitating such experiences, I might have rethought my career!
Dealing with discipline and disruption in the middle of the night, on the other hand? Less fun. Equally necessary. Unsurprisingly, that’s on us teachers. As I’ve told my advisory kids, who have never seen me angry, I am neither happy nor patient in the middle of the night and they’re better off not testing me on that.
Fortunately, after being with kids and on call 24 hours a day for a week, we have two days off for Chinese New Year. I’m spending two nights at home to recuperate and then flying to Bali for two more nights to relax in some peace and quiet. I am also looking forward to that! There are going to be some changes to my career and living situation in 2016 and I’m trying to do as much as I can before that happens.
If you happen to be at the airport here in Singapore on Saturday and you see 90 people in red shirts . . . congratulations, you’ve found us.
Look out for travel photos coming mid-February!