I like to look at silver linings where I can. Making the best of a bad situation is a fantastic coping strategy here in Cambodia. We recently were inundated with rainwater, and it has made life more difficult for some – downright miserable for others. I wanted to get students writing about their perspectives on the whole ordeal. Yet, I wanted to do so with a twist.

Yesterday evening they were told to write about it in their journals. But they needed to be thinking about some vocabulary words they were given this week. The words are as follows: infamous, catastrophe, and embellish. Here is one student’s embellished perspective:

Wow! This flood made everybody hard to arrive. It was infamous. Every moto stopped because of so much water. Some of the cars had been stopped too, and people were pushing them. Dirty water made all the germs get on peoples bodies causing disease. Everybody hated it and the next day it was still flooded. It came up to my neck. So I had to swim to school with smelly water.

When I got back at school all my pants and shirt were like somebody threw up on it. The same with my friends. But when I got to class I saw Mr. Bridell with a nice shirt and nice pants. I was thinking, why aren’t his clothes wet? and when I asked him he said that he took an airplane and flew. It was SHOCKING because how come he had money to ride an airplane to school. When school ended, I swam back to my house.

Nice writing job. But, of course, you know me – I just can’t resist writing some comments of my own. Here’s my counter-embellishment to answer the question of how I was able to fly to school, thus keeping my clothes dry:

The day of the flood, my car had gotten trapped in the stinky, rising water. It carried the ’91 Camry all the way down to the airport. There, the vehicle came to its resting place in front of a Red Cross relief plane. They had empathy for me and said that I could ride in their plane to wherever I needed to go.

As the small aircraft approached the school, the captain said, “Out you go!” I was expecting them to land on the soccer field, but they told me it would be far too dangerous. Instead, they pushed me out the door as we flew over the school. Fortunately, I landed on the top of that coconut tree which grows just outside the cafeteria next to the infamous room 305. I bounced off the fronds and into the waiting (here’s personification, boys and girls) arms of the cafeteria. Just another typical day in Cambodia.