Andrea is BOOKBRIDGE fellow in our learning center in Tonloab, Cambodia. In this post, she describes her last weeks as a fellow.
Two months are over and I will fly back to Germany in a few days. Even if it was just a short time I spend here in Tonloab I made so many experiences and learned a lot.
Vannak Pen, Head of the Learning Center found a family that was willing to host me for the time of my stay. Their 10-years-old daughter studies English at the Learning Center. In our free time she taught me some simple sentences in Khmer and also we practiced her English. They gave me much insight into the family structures in Cambodia and were always caring about me. Three generations of the family are running the restaurant together and are cooking so good that I gained some weight during my stay.
My biggest fear was that the students or teachers wouldn’t accept me because I had no teaching experience and had never worked with children before. I quickly learned that this fear was baseless. The team at the Learning Center is very young and motivated to help me integrate and the students have been friendly from the first second. Unlike in Germany, where students often try to offend their teachers, the relationship between teachers and students in Cambodia is much better.
I even received many early Christmas presents from the students because I will be celebrating Christmas in Germany.We often spend the breaks with playing outside or reading books together. In this time I taught them some basic phrases and I hope they will remember them.
In the last two months I tried to implement some warm up and calm down activities in the class. It wasn’t always easy to convey what I wanted them to do to the students because I don’t speak Khmer and they are just beginning to learn English.
I also produced some learning cards with the vocabularies according to the English books. I tried to do as much of the work as possible together with the students. It probably took much longer than when I would have done them by myself but I think they also learned a lot and also had fun. I showed them the basic skills on computer and it was stunning how quick they learned.
Vannak asked me to create some quizzes to the vocabularies on PowerPoint. We watched the tutorial together because we both didn’t know how to do it. After a while it was no problem anymore and it’s great to see how much fun the students have with them.
We started a reading competition with a texts about Christmas. I wrote easier texts for the lower levels and a more difficult one with gaps to fill out for the higher levels. The five best students in every class got a certificate signed by Vannak and me.
My free time and the weekends I spent with my host family or traveling around. In company of two students I got the chance to visit the Angkor Wat in Siem Reap as I said in my previous report and saw the “Bon Um Tuk” the Cambodian Water festival. We were also hiking to the temple on top of the Bayong mountain it was a long way but absolutely worth it. On another weekend Vannak took me to the weddings of his nephew, there were so many people and so much food to try it was really impressing.
What I am very grateful for is that I was always supported and never had to overcome difficulties alone. I am sure I can benefit from this experience for my future and will think about these days a lot. I hope I get the chance to come back soon!