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First day at school

I was going to a school !
I was both excited and nervous. What’s in store for me in this town of a new country where lack of a common language is a big problem for us. Last four days, I had difficulty in explaining what I wanted to eat or where I wanted to go. Then how am I going to communicate with teachers and students of the school?

So what if I am a volunteer teacher, I was feeling like a kid going to a new school.
All these emotions bothered me constantly as I took the transport to the school that is around 3 KM away from my place of stay.

It took a while to find the place. This tuk-tuk driver, like any one of his brotherhood, would know the way to all the tourist spots and even smallest hotels in nooks & corners of Siem Reap, Cambodia but not know even the best educational institutions let alone this small little government school that was on the way to the airport in the outskirts!
siem reap school

One of the classes.

My contact at the school was already at the gates with folded hands saying in Khmer “Choom reap sua” exactly the same way we do “Namaste”. No shaking of the hands.

I was escorted to the office of the “Director”, the headmistress, a lovely lady in her fifties. We conversed with our mediator trying to interpret our respective point of views some of which were already discussed by way of e-mails.

Eventually a plan emerged. Mr T, my contact, took me around the school. Not a big school, but I was amazed to see that they didn’t have black boards. All have given way to white boards! And in computer lab, though the computers were Pentium 3, each student had an independent computer to work on.
I met the English teacher, Mr S. After introductions, it was my turn to introduce myself to the children of 6th grade. All of them, at an invisible trigger, chorused “Good morning teacher”. I was sure Mr. S must have coached them earlier and signaled them now. 🙂

After that it was an eventful morning. Children were exactly the same as they are in any part of the world. Some mischievous, some shy, some sharp and some take time to understand things. Except for a few usual sentences such as “What’s your name?” “What’s your age?” etc., they do not understand much English. Sometimes Mr S acts as an interpreter but for me, lots of sketching/drawing and acting skills are being honed up. 😛
siem reap school

One of the classes.

Two different batches run in two shifts in the same building. They share classrooms, computers and the teachers as well. Not to mention, the staff has quite a workload working from 7 AM till 5 PM. Some of the classes have 80+ students.
In one of the class I noticed a hammock with a baby in it. Turned out to be the teacher’s new born whom she could not have left anywhere. 🙂

So far so good.

24 thoughts on “First day at school”

  1. I feel you are fortunate to have this kind of interaction over there. Its true tha black boards had to give way to the green (glass) boards and then to the white boards. Every one wants you to take care, I too.

  2. Nervousa Gaye the? 🙂

    Suprised to know that they do Namaste the way in India do.
    But then there have been a strong Hindu and Buddhist influence for over 1000 years. Angkor Wat and all!

    Wish you the best and hope you visit Angkor Wat and post the photos.

  3. Your tenure in the school will be a life changing experience u are fortunate in moulding the future of young students have a gr8 time & keep updating

  4. @PNS,
    I must admit, Indian schools in rural areas are in more pathetic condition than this.
    And yeah, I don’t know why people are asking me to be safe. I am safe!

  5. @Samaresh,
    Yes, I’ll remember it for a long time. And I hope I can make a difference in at least one child’s life and I do hope s/he remembers me for some time at least. 😀

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