What does bias mean?

I am in the office at the center.  The kids are here: the office doors are open, and so they’ve come to hang out. They’re unobtrusive, usually, and they always listen when I say I’m busy with other work.  But they do love to talk, and it’s difficult to turn them away.  Last night five girls came to ask me how long I was staying, when I was going back to my country, what I did there.  One asked questions about economics: bank accounts, the strength of the dollar, international business, whether they use dollars and riel in the United States the same way they use riel and dollars here.  I explained that in the United States you only use American money, but I don’t think I acquitted myself well otherwise.  Like most Americans, I only have the vaguest idea of how the Federal Reserve fixes our currency at its strength.  A New Zealander is here to teach them all about personal finance: budgeting, saving, household expense: she might have a more straightforward way of explaining dollars here and there.  The ex-director’s husband teaches a current-events class that wanders down any number of tangents (“What does bias mean?  Oh.  Well, say you own a newspaper, and one of your friends–say Srey Neat owns a newspaper and Chamorn is her friend, and Chamorn does something bad….”)

I am overjoyed to be here.  I have a set of capsule lives now, and it seems I can open them up by returning to the right place: if I can’t step into the same river, I can walk in the same stretch of riverbank.  Cambodia is the place I remember.  But the year I remember was unhappy: I was exhausted to the point of anhedonia.  After a few months, I started conking out at sunset, wherever I was.  Once I nodded off at a drag show, even though our table pushed up against the bar where the dancers twisted.  I contracted headlice a few weeks after I arrived, and wasn’t able to shed them until I returned home.  For the first several months of my stint, I couldn’t even control them: my sharpest memory of the year is of myself lying awake, my scalp burning from insecticides and the fine comb, while lice swam fitfully through my hair.  I could call myself a competent teacher by the time I left, but my first quarter performance was dismal.

Now I’m here on vacation.  I know I can go home in two months.  I have only one job while I’m here.  I can afford an apartment instead of a series of failed housesits.  I have strategies in place for thwarting the lice, and less hair to scrape them out of.  I can be calm and happy the whole time.

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