January Group Update: The Story Continues

After our report about Orientation, volunteers started their service-learning programs, aka the REAL reason they came to Cambodia with GSC! This January group is unique in that some of the volunteers are doing a “typical” GSC program, but we also have two Master’s degree interns and two professional consultants who are helping us further develop our Global Public Health program. You can read about their experience in our last blog post here. As for the other volunteers, read on about their experiences in their respective program placements.

These volunteers joined our Child and Orphan Care Program, Buddhist Immersion and Teaching English Program, Community Development and Youth Leadership Training Program, and the 16-week Semester Program. Following completion of orientation and training, they moved into their program accommodations. Based on their individual program placements, the volunteers are staying at a guesthouse, with homestay families, and at a wat (Buddhist monastery).

The Child and Orphan Care volunteers are working at two different settings; a feeding center for poor or homeless children in the morning, and at an orphanage in the afternoon. They arrive bright and early in the morning to help prepare, serve, and clean up from breakfast. Additionally, volunteers have the opportunity to organize their own activities to do with the children. These particular volunteer’s created and distributed first aid kits for the center and gave basic first aid and basic hygiene instruction. They also designed education based activities including early education developmental materials (colors, numbers, calculators, pencils, the alphabet, Uno card games, and memory games), and to bring physical activity materials (5 soccer balls, 10 footballs and dodgeballs, backpacks, shirts, waist packs, etc.).

GSC volunteers conduct a workshop about brushing teeth to children at an orphanage. pc Sophak T.

GSC volunteers conduct a workshop about brushing teeth to children at an orphanage. pc Sophak T.

GSC volunteers also teaching the children about first aid. pc Sophak T.

GSC volunteers also teaching the children about first aid. pc Sophak T.

Our volunteer on the Community Development and Leadership Training Program has been working with one of our partner organizations, Youth for Peace (YFP), a NGO in Cambodia whose work is dedicated to empowering youth to become community leaders. Our participant has spent her time helping with research on Cambodia’s Community Peace Learning Center (CPLC) and on the upcoming National Reading Day (March 11). She’s also been helping to prepare a workshop about plastic pollution and what youth can do to manage this problem within their communities. (Check back for a report on this in a future blog post)

"OMG!! It seems that all the young staff at the Youth For Peace centre are the most amazing cooks. Lunchtime is turning out to be orgasmic." - Emilie B.

“OMG!! It seems that all the young staff at the Youth For Peace centre are the most amazing cooks. Lunchtime is turning out to be orgasmic.” – Emilie B.

Other volunteers are staying in Udong, which is a town approximately 1 hour outside of Phnom Penh. One volunteer is spending her time teaching English to Cambodian schoolchildren, aged 5 – 20, at primary and secondary schools. The other participant has been spending his time at a wat learning about Buddhism and also teaching English to both monks at the monastery and students at primary and secondary schools. This particular volunteer has also opted to take Khmer (Cambodian) language lessons as part of his 16-week Semester program.

Walker H. takes a selfie with some students between teaching English sessions. pc Walker H.

GSC volunteer takes a selfie with some students between teaching English sessions. pc Walker H.

Monks in a classroom learning English. pc Richard L.

Monks in a classroom learning English. pc Richard L.

Some volunteers will be leaving in a few weeks, while others will be staying for a longer period of time. We will continue providing updates and recaps of the group so keep checking back for new posts, or better yet follow our blog so you’ll receive email updates when we post again!  Simply click “Follow” located on the right hand side of the page.

In their own words: Quotes from the volunteers about their service-learning projects:

  • “However, for me, what creates that balance between service and learning is mostly in the morning when I study at the local primary school. I absolutely love having the chance to sit with children in the same desks that they do in the classroom and learn together. They try to teach me Khmer {the Cambodian language}, and although [it] has been difficult, the smiles on their faces are the highlight of my day. Seeing their happiness in turn motivates me to give it my all teaching the rest of the day, trying to give many of those same children the best English education they possibly can receive.” – Walker H.

 

  • “In Khmer culture, the floor is considered a dirty place, even from a spiritual dimension. Accordingly, people tend to not put anything on the floor – even their bags. When I was a kid in school, I didn’t think anything of just sitting at my desk and dropping my bag on the floor. It seemed natural! Well, I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve walked into the classroom at Khmer school, sat in my chair, and dropped my bag on the ground – just to be followed by one or students telling me “Teacher! Teacher! No!” and picking my bag up and putting it on the table. This reminds me that, on the one hand, these children really appreciate me trying to help their English, yet on the other hand, I have so much to learn from them as well.” – Walker H.

 

  • “[I’m having] Many good meetings with administrative staff and assistants at both places to work on schedules, discuss kids, plan how I can help meet their needs, share insights, problem solve, etc. Good working relationships with these people [the staff] at both places…. I’m learning a lot about these two populations, specific to Cambodia.” – Marnie B.

 

  • “I really enjoy teaching and interacting with my students. Working with the teachers is a little tricky, as the teachers’ comprehension of English varies greatly… I feel as though there is a good balance between service and learning.” – Lila B.
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