Into TGL: Pol Village – A Love Letter

June 18, 2016

Daniela Ramos

Dear Pol Village in Samraong,

You got me. Unbiasedly and whole-heartedly.

Your dirt roads, your crumbling houses, the wires that seemed to grow everywhere like ivy, the cows moo-ing their way through the village at sunrise, the peacefulness of walking out – of going anywhere and being struck by simple yet dazzlingly beautiful landscapes all around us.

The feeling you give us of not wanting to wake up during those hot spring mornings  – “Five more minutes, it’s just too hot to step outside and ride the bicycles to the school under the sun”, I’d grumble.

Then we’d get up anyway. We’d get up to be reminded one of the many reasons we are there – the children running out from their houses just to shout and wave “hello!” at us. As if we were some kind of superstars.

“HELLO, TEACHER!!!”, they’d shout.

After six months in Thailand, I was used to being called “farang” (foreigner) by the locals. But here, in this tiny village, we are the “teachers”. We are seen as heroes. I will never forget their singsong voices as they excitedly ran out from their doorsteps to high-five us as we passed by.

Greenway School was built from scratch by teachers, after all. What at the beginning of 2013 was an abandoned piece of land that no one cared to look at twice is now not just a free English school for the poorest children in the village, but a Wonderland to them (and us). A brightly-colored, zealous and fun-filled Wonderland that now provides free education to 370 children.

It was the little things about you, really.

The way the girls gathered up during lunch break to do my hair, utilizing flowers and plants to add the final touches.

It was swimming in the pond with the kids after school and running barefooted through wilderness.

It was the way some of the children shyly asked to hop on the back of our bikes to get a ride home (as if they even had to ask, as if we didn’t love every second of it).

It was the way the kids built their toys from garbage and entertained themselves with them for hours on end.

It was the way they would climb up a tree to knock mangoes down to share with everyone (us included).

It was how, when it rained, they got ahold of the opportunity to wade in the newly-created pools of mud.

It was how I didn’t care a bit about being drenched in sweat and having a face covered up by a million + 1 pimples. I was simply too busy having the time of my life to even think twice about these banal things that would normally bother me at home.

It was meeting like-minded people and realizing I wasn’t the only one who wished they could stay. I met Tim, for example, who after being a teacher for a few weeks and then going back home, had decided to return and settle here for four years to finish teaching his class.

It was the every-day smiles that never ceased greeting us.

And lastly, it was the way you made me realize how simple life should be.

We go there to teach these children English. In return, they teach us lifelong lessons – to appreciate what is around us. To be happy with whatever it is we have, no matter how little it might be. To get in touch with nature again. To stop worrying about things that in the end don’t matter and just enjoy ourselves while we are alive.

My time here was short-lived but the lessons are for keeps. I am ever-thankful for everything you gave me.

Pol Village, you stole my heart and quite frankly, I don’t mind if you keep it.

Daniela Ramos

Full time traveller. I left home at 18 to study photography in NYC & journalism in London. Have been in Asia, Africa, the Americas and Europe. Now, I am globetrotting the world visiting all the Green Lion programs to tell you my experiences first-handedly.

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