Marco and Susann are BOOKBRIDGE fellows at the learning center in Takeo, Cambodia. In this post, they write about their impressions made during the last 15 weeks at the center.
Now it has been 15 weeks that we, Marco and Susann, are in Takeo. We have helped to revive the learning center there with painting the walls with a map of the world, a map of Cambodia and a map of Takeo as well as with offering daily activities. In the meantime, the children have started to trust us. Everyday, they pass by the center excitedly and cannot wait to see which activities we will do with them today. Every day, we hear them shout “Teacher, game, game!” or “„Paper and coloured pencils!“. The time has long passed when the children have come to “merely” read books.
One could almost say that the BOOKBRIDGE learning center has become more than just a learning center with a library. We have become sort of a community center: everybody can come between 7am and 5pm and choose between games, Khmer and English books, handcraft workshops, crossword puzzles, little English lessons, coloring activities, puzzles and so on. Thanks to our German friends who have visited the center and brought several gifts our pool of games and puzzles has almost doubled. Also, there were lots of donations from our families and friends in Germany to support our activities and the learning center at the same time – enabling us to buy color pens, paint brushes, water colors, paper, drawing templates and games as well as for the older ones as for the younger ones. We even managed to buy some toy cars and airplanes.
Representative for all children and youth who visit the center everyday, we would like to present you six of them:
Lee is five years old and one of the youngest children visiting us everyday. Sometimes he unpatiently waits for us in front of the center until we turn around the corner. He welcomes us cheerfully and oftentimes doesn´t want to go home in the afternoon. Lee loves to ride the carrier on Marco bike when Marco takes him home to his mother at night. Lee is very open-minded, speaks English very well with respect to his age and wants to learn new words everyday. Holding English books in his hands he unpatiently stands in front of us, takes our fingers and points to the paragraph he wants to be read by us. Without any accent, he parrots everything. He also loves to spell English words and writes them on the whiteboard. When we don´t have a lot of time for him, he paints little artworks like his home, Marco and him sitting on a bike, and the learning center. Receiving a piece of candy at the end makes it a perfect day for him.
Pich, A-Ny and Vanna are nine and ten years old and, like Lee, bring life to the learning center. They are friends and love to pass by after school or in the school breaks. All three of them love to color, their prefered themes are Winnie Pooh and wild animals. Since knowing that Susann is a fan of Winnie Pooh and especially elephants as well, she gets new artworks every week. Oftentimes they say below „I love Susann and Marco“ on the bottom line. Discovering their paintings on the weekly updated pin board makes them very proud.
Sokaen is seven years old. Recently, his mother told us that already in the morning he expresses his will to visit the learning center. She takes him there every day. Having arrived at the gate, he immediately jumps from her scooter, runs into the center barely managing it to take off his shoes and greets us enthusiastically. Sometimes he can not decide which game to play because he finds everything so exciting. He loves it when both of us take part in the game.
Sok Sam Nang is 17 years old and visits the center almost every day. He loves to read English books, at the moment he prefers Harry Potter. Oftentimes, Marco practices reading comprehension with him. Sometimes he brings some friends to do Popcorn Reading: Everyone reads to phrases until a chapter has been completely read. This helps to improve attention and pronounciation. Sok Sam Nang is a very helpful person and reads books also to younger children. Besides, he attends our Intermediate English Course. In the very beginning, he told us that his name means “Mr. Lucky” in Khmer. When seeing his shining eyes, you know he has the right name.
Like the children described above every child has its own story and enjoys the centers offerings in its own way, no matter how old they are. It is great to see how they enthusiastically play, read and learn. It is only them who bring the learning center to life. With our assistance and Western ideas we only provide a frame for their activities. The rest comes by itself.