It was with this passion that I went on my first trip to Roong Primary School in May 2015. Having heard all the chatter of excitement from Audrey and Mindy on their previous trip, I wanted to go along and train the teachers. I wanted the HK team to leave something with the teachers that could continue long after we left.
I had no idea how receptive the teachers would be to me, a foreigner with little knowledge of their culture, teaching philosophy or curriculum. I had spoken to Jussara and had some ideas on topics I could teach them but there was no fixed agenda. By the end of two days of teacher training, all the staff at the primary school had been given training on using games in the classroom, group work activities, how to motivate the students, classroom management and Q&A on challenges they face in the classroom. They were willing to learn and eager to try new things. By the end of the first day, one teacher had moved his desks from the traditional rows into groups. Slowly, more tried this. This is testament to how open the teachers were to new ideas. They kept asking me when I was going to return, eager to get more ideas and training to help them in their job of educating young Cambodians in skills that would keep them out of the factories and into professionally skilled work. Teachers would stop me around the school with questions, and I realized telling them, training them was not enough. I had to get in the class and show them. Frustrated with the lack of time I vowed to return.
In the summer of 2015 I got that opportunity. I went back alone, without the support of the HK team to take over the teaching of all the students to free up the teachers. I would have four full days, more time to make a difference. I had more time in the classrooms working side by side with the teachers implementing strategies we had discussed on my previous visit. However, the big project came to me during the break on the first day. I went to take a closer look at the library. Before I knew it I was pulling all the books off the shelves together with the principal and librarian. We fixed, cleaned and categorized all the books, color coded them, cleaned and rearranged the shelves, made signs and wrote up lists of rules for display. Best of all we had the older students help with color coding all the books. They worked through their break, so happy and motivated to give back to their school. All the students and staff of both the primary and secondary school were trained in how to use the library, a place they all use every week.
It was hard to leave the school. An amazing group of hard working, caring and enthusiastic teachers. I can’t wait to return in May 2016 to give more and in return get so much more.