11:11, Make a Wish

There’s a line in Alice in Wonderland that goes, “Sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” That line is running through my head now, for a few reasons.

First: Yesterday I ate two inedible things before sundown. Not like, “This food is so weird I can’t eat it.” No, as in “Oh, you’re not supposed to eat that part?” Lychee have pits. Bone fish have, well, about a bajillion bones.

And more importantly: I am at an amazing place full of smart, sincere, energy-filled women who are working at lightning speed to not only earn their college degrees in things like economics, human rights law, international relations and other fancy subjects, but they’re also learning to be fluent in English. Ok, how can I describe this. I’ve met at least 15 of the 35 girls in the dorm. Here’s what I know so far. They wake up at 5:30am and study for the day’s lessons, go to school for at least five-six hours, come home around 5, have more classes at night in the dorm, study until midnight and then wake up and do it all over again.

Brief snippets of interactions so far:

-Kunthea cracks up if you pronounce her name wrong because you’re mistakenly calling her “baby duck”. She wants to work in international human rights law in order to help children and families. -A few of the girls could not believe I was 30 years old. As in, super-wide eyes, dropped jaws. Several exclaimed: “But you’re so YOUNG! You’re younger than US!”
-Yesterday Marady pointed to a big bouquet of bright tropical flowers, with a sweet scent. She asked, “What do you say for the smell of flowers? It’s not a delicious smell… that’s for food.” And I realized I had no idea if there was a special word for a good-smelling flower. It’s not delicious, it’s… it’s…
-I held up my cell phone to a girl, pointed to the time and said, “It’s 11:11, make a wish!” (Yes, I realize this is extremely dorky.) And she looked confused, so I explained the expression and she got SO excited, she said “Oh yes, make a wish!”; jumped back about 12 inches, squinched her eyes shut, clutched her notebook to her chest and wished for like 15 seconds.

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