After waiting over six months, here I am! I’m in the United States of America! I can immediately cross one BIG thing off my bucket list. With my mentors and SHE-CAN staff waiting at the airport, I felt so welcomed. Cameras flashed on me from all angles making me feel like a rock star.
My first stop was San Francisco, one of the cities in the world with pretty views and diverse food. My mentors took me to Soul Cycle, and I loved it. I had a lot of fun while I burned some calories.
After one week, it was move-in day at Bucknell University. We went shopping at Walmart and Target, huge malls with everything you could possibly look for. Two more places were crossed off my list.
After mid-term exams, I started to countdown for Thanksgiving Break. I heard that it is not a religious festival, but a celebration of feeling thankful. I could not wait because I have always wanted to experience new cultures and learn its different festivities. I was glad that I got to spend my one week break in New Jersey. One more state was crossed off my list. Jesse Yallof, who is a good friend of my mentor, Cindy, who also works at Mercer, and his family were nice to welcome me into their family. Before Thanksgiving, he took me to South Philadelphia, and we had Cambodian food in a small Cambodian community. Instead of crossing off anything from my list, New Phnom Penh Restaurant was added. I was extremely happy to have that moment to myself, after not having Cambodian cuisine for over three months.
Then came the Thanksgiving Day. I was so thrilled to try turkey because it is not a common meat in Cambodia. I planned to go for the leg, but it was so big! I ate so much that day including turkey, cranberry sauce, squash soup, lasagna, fresh fruits, and most importantly, dessert! Along with eating, I talked to Jesse’s parents, siblings, and relatives. It was a really nice way to get to know and catch up with people. I found out that Jesse’s father was interested in Buddhism, so we talked about it for hours. He explained how he came to believe in Buddhism, and although I am not an expert, I helped to explain any of his confusions. Thanksgiving Day ended with me saying “see you later” not “goodbye” to everyone in Jesse’s family.
|Melissa Printon, who is one of my mentors’ sister, then took me to her house. The next morning, we had a tour at the Profeta Farms, where she currently works. It was eye-opening to see the local and organic the farm produce. The way they raised cows, pigs, and chickens is very humane. The size of the chicken house was built for twice the numbers of chickens raised. They were fed with natural feeds that were processed on the farm, to reduce animal cruelty and carbon emission while transporting the chickens back and forth. This farm was the opposite of an industrial farm. All cows are grass-fed, and relocated to different fields to enrich the nutrients of the ground for planting crops.
This really shows that the mission of the farm is not just to make money, but to provide clean, organic, and humanely-raised foods for its people while being environmentally friendly.
Piggy Smalls is Profeta Farm’s ambassador! When Katie Ellis first had him, he had rash all over his skin. However, with care from Katie, organic food, and a large comfortable room to himself, his rashes are all gone. He is now a very healthy pig.
At the Profeta Farms, visitors are free to come and look at the pigs rooting around in the woods outside their barn, see the chickens scratching around outside their coop, watch the cows grazing on the organic grass, and check out the barn and ask questions. Visitors will not find any pesticides or chemical fertilizers. With a passion for conserving the environment as well as feeding people high quality, fresh, organic food, this farm shines light on my dream, and inspires me to propel despite hardships from some poor government regulations.
I ended my break shopping at Asian market and cooked Lok Luk, Cambodian dish for Melissa. Once again, it was a great break because I wasn’t just relaxing, I was learning and having new experiences that were in line with my interests in conserving the environment as well as feeding people high quality, fresh, organic food.
Last, I want to thank all of the families that hosted me and made me feel warm on my first American Thanksgiving!