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!
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. 😛
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.