Siem Reap Volunteer teaching...
We were at a restaurant doen a side street, when we were approached by a boy who looked 16/17 years old. He was selling t-shirts for the orphanage/school called SOID. But we insisted we didn't want to buy the t-shirt but instead we wanted to volunteer our own flesh and blood.
Two days later we had our guesthouse Tuk Tuk driver take us to the school, which was a few kilometres out of the city. We had paid for the Tuk Tuk to stay with us all day, taking us back to the guesthouse for a 3 hour lunch break in between morning and afternoon teaching which cost $15 (US). The journey was a change from the city, the modern concrete roads soon changed to a huge red, dusty track that led all the way to the school. We arrived at this small courtyard of children playing. Around the tiny courtyard was red bamboo walls with thatched roofs with added plastic for rain support.
We arrived to a swarm of children and trying to distinguish staff from elder child was very hard. Suddenly one of the eldest children started lining up the playing children in the courtyard. Shouting orders in Khmer at them, this sounded more like army camp than school. Then an adult dressed in a shirt came out, gave us 2 chairs and told us to listen to the children sing the national anthem. The national anthems we were familiar with just entail standing and sheepishly singing. However, the shouting passion on the faces with added footsteps were like marching movements, this country was different in every way.
Being shown by a teacher the 2 classrooms next to each other he exclaimed, "Would you like to stay together? or split up?"We answered, "We don't mind", so obviously we were split up to stretch the English intelligence. The he asked, "Which class room would you like to teach in?"This time Daniel poked his head around the classroom behind me and quickly answered, "Fay can have that one!"Frowning I then poked my head round to 22 smiling faces shining up at me! Turning on my heel to protest Daniel was already being introduced to his 4 students!! Grrrrr!
Level 2 - Fays Class
So... like I mentioned, 22 students aged 7-12. My first lesson concluded of the teacher writing an entire excercise out of the book onto the board which took 20mins. The students then took time to copy it and fill in the blanks for 40mins, then I get 22 books piled on my lap accompanied with a red marker pen for 50mins!! The only 2 things I realised... No 1: How much I hated school and No 2: How diversely intelligent/not so intelligent the class was.
Level 3 - Daniel's Class
Daniel's class was different to mine because they were older and they were more experienced in speaking English. They went through an English book for beginners about 'friends and family going to the seaside'. Again, similar to my class the diversity of knowledge was huge. For example 1 or 2 could read perfectly, whereas the rest had to be consistently corrected on every other word. Daniel took time to sit and observe, he has previously been asked to take the class but not knowing the real level of these students and how much they knew, he wasn't ready.
This tiny 3-4 year old cambodian that looked like a mini Vinnie Jones was walking along with what looked like a toy on a string. Coming closer we realised it must have been a dead frog as its legs were dangling and as it was being dragged through the sand it was still. However, when the little boy stopped and looked at us white aliens, what we thought was a dead frog happened to be very alive. Just as we were coming to terms with this reality, he bagan to walk away to level 0 - Khmer class, with the frog helplessly attached by leg on the string as it was half bouncing half tumbling not far behind the boy. We then realised our idea of 'toys' is v.different to theres.
Day 2 in the poor Cambodian School.
We had stayed the whole day yesterday but because the morning and afternoon lessons are the same, just rotated students we decided to only attend the afternoon.
Level 2 - Fays Class
I had been given a step up from yesterdays class. My teacher admitted that the reason the students cannot speak any English is because she does not know how to pronounce any of the words. So that was my task to give them 20 words ranging from 'Brazil - Dictionary' and get them to repeat my pronunciation. It took 1 and a half hours and still not a lot actually got through to the children.
Level 3 - Daniel's Class
Daniel's class had moved onto looking at adjectives, nouns, verbs and adverbs. After the children had copied what was on the board from the mornings lesson, Dan had the pure joy of making sure the children understood what they had written by going through in further detail the meanings of these types of words. Finding ways to simplify these meanings and explain to them at their level was a great challenege. As he felt as though he was repeating over and over the same thing, he had to check constantly with the teacher. The children of Daniels class were exremelely well behaved except one boy who had captured a giant grasshopper and stuck the end of its pen through its body and kept it there for the whole lesson.
The teahcers wanted us to stay longer but we had already made plans to travel to Phnom Penh, otherwise we would have gladly stayed. We appreciated how well the school was run and the fact that it was a Cambodia run organisation. They were very poor and really did need our help. As well as helping them by giving our language we also bought a t-shirt from them with their school and orphanage info on it for $5 each. We hope that one day when we have more money we can send them much needed supplies like books to read, stationary and equipment for computers as they have been donated a couple of laptops to hold computer classes.