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Kick-off ceremony for Amity Education Development Program (Cambodia) in Phum Siam Primary School on Dec 12, 2019

Teaching as a volunteer in Cambodia

My name is Chen Shuaishuai. I always think that life is ordinary, and only by doing something extraordinary we can experience exceptional things. So, I chose to embark on a journey to Cambodia as a volunteer of Amity.

I have three teaching sites: Dambanh Primary School in Bavel, Phum Siem Primary School, 10 kilometers away from Bavel, and a stilted building in a village near Bavel, where the villagers asked me to teach their children in the evening.

Phum Siem Primary School was established in 1994. Now the school has 200 students and only 4 teachers. The school building is rudimentary, with only three classrooms available for use. The other two classrooms have cracked walls, putting students in danger. There were no concrete roads in the school, leading to potential dangers from time to time.

For example, the other day, when class was about to start, a little girl was anxious to go to the restroom, but she couldn’t find her shoes on the steps. As the class was about to begin, the girl hurried to the restroom barefoot. The road to the restroom is a dirt road mixed with pebbles. Walking barefoot does not only hurts, but also can give injuries easily.

I was more than happy when I learned that Amity would build concrete roads and renovate restrooms for the primary school. Amity was meeting the most practical and urgent needs of the teachers and students here.

Only one out of the four teachers at Phum Siem Primary School speaks some English. All others including the students speak Khmer. To communicate and to teach, I made flash cards with Chinese, Khmer and English to assist teaching. The teachers were also happy to help with translating my class into Khmer. Although we need special efforts on all kinds of translations to make the children understand, I was touched and surprised to find the kids worked so hard on my lessons. They requested the school to postpone school for half an hour only for my class…

Students in Cambodia attending class
Students in Cambodia receiving language lessons by Chinese volunteers

No matter if it is English or Chinese, for Cambodian children, learning a foreign language has much positive meaning. At the kick-off ceremony of the Amity Education Development Program (Cambodia), Mr. Saung Veng, Director of the Education Department of Bavel, said: “Learning a foreign language helps young people with future employment.”

In China, many people around me have limited knowledge of Cambodia. And, most Chinese social organizations have no presence here. It is interesting that many local Cambodian considered us to be Japanese when we arrived.

At the kick-off ceremony of the Amity Education Development Program (Cambodia), Director of Education Department of Bavel said: “This is the first time that a Chinese social organization comes to help in Bavel. Before, social organizations working here were all western.” In response, Ms. She Hongyu, Associate General Secretary said: “We may be the first Chinese social organization to come to Bavel, but we will not be the only one.”