How integrated are you and what have you learned in the process of integrating into your community?
I am basing my integration level on my interactions at my school site, within my host family and my immediate commune. I make this distinction because I believe that integration at the provincial town level looks very different than that at the small district town/village level.
At my school, men who didn't seem to know how to approach me a year ago, seek me out to say hello, share a joke. I have ongoing funny jokes/stories with several teachers that are not my specific counterparts. They invite me to play chess or boll with them, even though I have no clue how and I'd be the only woman. When they do, I politely laugh, say I don't know how, and then stay to watch for twenty minutes, to express my appreciation that they even invited me.
In our immediate commune, we are known. We are no longer the random foreigners at our small market nearby- they know us, know our story as a married couple. When they found out we were going home in four months, there was genuine sadness, and excitement for our expressing our desire to return in five years. When we bike home after work, we are waved to not just by excited kids screaming hello, but by adults who know us too.
What I've learned, and I've said it before, is that language is the easiest and biggest thing a PCV can do to integrate. A simple conversation at the market, on the street corner, at school, goes a long way. It has helped me build a congenial relationship with the men at my school that I can't interact with outside of school (I wish to preserve my respect for the boundaries between men/women in Khmer society, and I do not wish to get drunk with these men in any case.)
My language learning has not progressed immensely, though this is mainly my fault. Because I can read fairly well, I relied on myself to learn from a dictionary, and I find this infinitely more challenging to find motivation to do. Also, because I possess the daily language needed for nearly everything I do, and the technical language to do my work as a trainer, I am not overly motivated to seek out even more learning. I do still have a language book with terms I still want to learn/double check, and this is a priority in my final months here.
At the end of the day though, integration is living. Making friends, finding regular sports to eat, play, work. I've learned that integration is about opening your heart to the people around you, without judgment and with a smile and a 'yes' on your lips.