Thursday, August 25, 2011

First day of teaching in the KKEV village

This morning at 8. a.m I moved in the KKEV village (around 30 km away from Phnom Penh). This is a German NGO established in Cambodia in October 2006. They are fostering one hundred children until the age of 18 (21 for the ones that choose so). The children have different backgrounds: HIV parents, victims of violence, homeless and abandoned children. There are 45 girls and 55 boys, and the average age is 9-12 years, but there are also two found babies.  

The children go everyday to a public school with a KKEV bus and have English, art and computer classes in the village. Also children from outside are coming for English lessons.

It is hard to describe the atmosphere here..when I first arrived to visit the village two days ago all the small children from the Kinder-garden jumped on me and tried to take me to their house in the village. During lunch everyone eats together (children, volunteers and staff) and afterwards everyone cleans and puts the tables back. The meals are very basic: always rice with vegetables and a piece of chicken or fish. On some days we get also dessert (today we were lucky;). 

The English class is very small with wood benches and some colored vocabulary posters. The English teacher , Mister Mai tries to compensate by his good will and I have to say I was surprised to see to what level he brought the older children from the school only in three years.  

Today I had three classes of two hours: 10 years old, 15 and 16-18. It was quite challenging because I never taught before and besides that I know very little about the Khmer culture and language. I felt like every gesture counted and I tried to teach them as much as I could, make it fun and involve them in the dialogue. Conclusion of the day: I have to learn how to draw better, get used to stand and talk all day long and smile every time I don't understand something. 
There are many things  I want to do here besides the English classes. First I would like to get some working computers because there are only two old Pentium left for one hundred brains. As I noticed it is very complicated to receive donations in computers because the governmental restrictions. The only solution I could foresee for now is to get donations in money and buy the computers here. For now we are also using my computer for projecting DVDs but it is crucial to ensure some continuity. For that the English teacher would need a decent laptop as well. 

I am also going to organize some workshops with the staff on computer use and media literacy. I believe they could pass on the knowledge and that's important. How about you? What would be the first thing you would teach to one hundred children and why?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Arrival in Phnom Penh

After 1.30 h flight from Bangkok + 15 min delay I arrived in Phnom Penh. First impression from the plane was that we are arriving to a flooded country. There was water everywhere and we all wondered if that´s normal or not. Later on I discovered that recent flood of Philippines affected a little bit Cambodia as well but nothing serious.

De Phmom penh
I was very worried about the visa process after experimenting quite some adventures in Thailand but the process went along smoothly and the real adventure started when you got on the street.

A member of the CWS staff was waiting for me and we took a Tuk-Tuk (local moto-taxi) towards the school where all the other volunteers were having a farewell party. 

You could get a feeling of the Phnom-penhian traffic from the next video, as from my side I have to admit I admire a lot their chaos order. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Why Cambodia?

After volunteering in many educational programs in Romania and Peru I really wanted to see how the system works in an Asian country and I choose Cambodia because it´s a country where everything needs to be build. With a strong NGO network, a literacy fraction of 74% in a population of 15.1 million inhabitants, Cambodia has the best economic records in Asia, with economic growth of 6.0% for the last 10 years. 

One Dollar, Sir!

I was curious to see how eager to learn people can be after decades of civil war in a country where half of the education is done in private schools. How can the open education and the open educational resources can help the people that can´t access the private education? How do we organize our teaching strategies in a country that made the gap to mobile internet and where 50% of the population is younger than 22 years old. 

With all these questions in mind and many ideas for projects I arrived in Cambodia in order to see what is that people really need and how could I contribute to that.