|Photo by Faith Ihongbe|
|Photo by Michael Hollin|
When lunch was over, we passed out Shenandoah University-themed trinkets to the family. For the grandmother, we presented her with an umbrella with an automatic opening button to shade her from the intense sun (after all Cambodia is close to the equator). She blessed us repeatedly in Khmer, and I couldn’t believe that such a gift (what I considered insignificant and boring) could result in so much praise and thanks. I’m not even sure, at that point, if she knew what we had given her, but she nevertheless expressed abundant gratitude.
We gave lanyards to the two children. I struggled with the selection of these gifts the most because I couldn’t imagine what they would use them for or why they even would want them. It’s not like they had keys or ID cards to attach to the lanyards. Still, I was compelled to find something useful about these lanyards for the children. I placed the lanyard over the little girl’s head, and remembering that the little boy had been chewing on a can pop tab, I broke off the nearest can pop tab and clipped it to the lanyard. I also removed the price tag card from the clip and set it on the table, thinking how rude of me it was to leave the price tag attached. She looked down at her lanyard and gave me a half smile. I thought to myself, “Success! She now sees that she can use this as a necklace. I have given it a use and now she will like it!” The little girl bowed her head and put her hands in a lotus pose at her lips to say, “Thank you.” She stood up from the table to follow her grandmother but reached back to snatch the price tag I had removed from her lanyard earlier. I will forever recall this as my most memorable moment in Cambodia. Whereas I felt it rude (and completely unnecessary) to leave the price tag attached, the little girl perceived the price tag as part of the gift and equally important to cherish.