I think volunteering has made me fall in love with Cambodia. The people I have met, the projects that we have done and the places we have been to have really brought out many aspects of Cambodia that I would not have discovered if I didn’t go on this program. A memorable moment would definitely be getting my pre-intermediate students to speed date. The aim of it wasn’t only to learn English, but it was also to integrate the class a bit more. When Nate and I first started teaching that class, we noticed that all the boys sat on the left side of the room, while all the girls sat on the right side of the room. With a boy girl seating plan, the speed dating really changed things up. Some students even said that they were compatible with someone else in the room! Hopefully next week, the students are more integrated. I also absolutely love the attitude these students have towards learning. School is not a chore for them, instead they go out of their way to come to School to improve their language skills. The poverty in rural Cambodia means that a lot of these students also have to work, yet they still turn up to class full of energy, voluntarily and without complaint. Although I’m their teacher, I have learnt a lot from them. I wish more students in Australia would have the same attitude towards school as these students do.
I really enjoyed sitting down with the students one on one and teaching them how to read and pronounce words. I remember sitting down with one girl who wanted to read the Australian story book ‘Bib and Bub.’ She could not pronounce the sounds ‘ch’, ‘tr’, ‘x’ and ‘sh’. We practiced these sounds over and over again and when she could pronounce them we both had such big smiles on our faces! We also acted out new words, which made everyone laugh. Seeing such a big improvement in the students really makes this trip seem even more worthwhile than it already is! The students are just fantastic and it’s funny how although we have a language barrier, communication can still be achieved through expressions and actions.
Overall, the volunteering experience has been fantastic. This coupled with the global leadership program, and the cultural immersion activities has really made my first week in Cambodia exceptional. There’s nothing more I can ask for.0