In August, BOOKBRIDGE co-founder Richard took a trip across Mongolia and Cambodia to visit our learning centers. In this post, he describes his impressions of Cambodia.
There has some time passed since I have been to Cambodia in August and it still feels like a dream. Cambodia is different from Vietnam, different from China and very different from Mongolia – these are the three countries I visited during our little world trip.
Yet the border crossing from Vietnam to Cambodia was a clear cut. Is it because we enter a kingdom? On the bus we see the life on the countryside being replaced only by the fast coming dawn in busy Phnom Penh. Our tastefully furnished accommodation is located in front of one the biggest monasteries in Cambodia. Construction work is going on and we feel some of the spiritual organization of the monks.
The next day is Sunday and on the plaza of Vietnamese-Cambodian friendship there are many young people and families with kids – yes, Cambodia is very young and yet very old. It is impressively venerable when Sokhan tells us Cambodias history during a tour in Angkor Wat a few days later showing the countless reliefs on the buildings walls. Even in ancient times, there was a library in almost every building demonstrating the importance that education always has had for the Khmer. Today, this is being reflected by the craving for education of many young Khmer and the numerous schools in the cities (even if their main group are people with enough money for expensive educational offerings).
Like a ray of hope the rooms of the BOOKBRIDGE learning centers in Takeo and Siem Reap located in neglected seeming public schools. Sokoeurn and his team welcome us in Takeo with open arms. Although we have arrived in the vacation time, we see many children coming to read and appreciate English learning games. The manager participants of the Capability Program and US american fellows have arranged the rooms in a meaningful way and given them a friendly atmosphere. This helps the visiting kids and youth feeling comfortable in the center. There is even a young Buddhist monk coming in the afternoon to participate in an English movie event.
Mr. Lucky, a young Khmer and team member, chooses a movie watching it with 20 teenagers and afterwards discussing it with them – in English. You can feel his commitment and enthusiasm about being active for BOOKBRIDGE to help his country.
BOOKBRIDGEs ambition to help people where they are in need clearly shows later when Sokhan chairs a reunion with the districts representatives in Champangson. People ask for practial aid for maintaining the many mopeds, manuals and guidelines for rice cultivation or livestock breeding. For BOOKBRIDGE, this is the next step after the learning center: the community center. BOOKBRIDGE is on the right path and I would like to form a part of it.