Yesterday, we landed in Siem Reap. We stayed over at Mitri Guesthouse for one night, but because there wasn’t wifi, we moved over to Golden Orange Hotel. We also went to Lucky Plaza to buy some food for the night.
Today, we began our OCIP journey officially as we went over to Wat Po School to conduct service learning through helping in construction, teaching the kids English as well as playing games with them. Everyone was grouped into three different groups of 3, with one group in charge of each class. Others were responsible for sanding, varnishing and building the bookshelves to be used in the libraries.t The education team primarily ufaced difficulties communicating with the students and had to resort to miming, pictures and with a little help from the local interpreter, managed to convey the meanings of words and concepts. However, the classes were much more advanced than expected, having considerable knowledge of both English and Maths, and this sped up the lessons considerably. We were also greatly encouraged by their enthusiastic responses and genuine efforts to learn what we had to teach. It was inspiring to see their passion for knowledge despite their lacking many facilities like fans, which made sitting in class for hours uncomfortable.
The highlight of the day was the inter-class sports, whereby students played Dog and Bone and Poison Ball. The Cambodian students literally sprang from their seats in delight as they rushed out of the classroom to participate in the games, which they responded enthusiastically and actively took part in. Nearing the end of the day, we were all drenched in sweat but wearing euphoric grins on our faces.As we parted with them (minus the over-dramatized tearful goodbyes), both us and the students leave with higher hopes for the coming of the new day ahead, no doubt bound to be filled with more adventures to come.
For the construction side, we completed the shelves for the five classes. We faced numerous difficulties in terms of manpower, time and technical aspects. For instance, the power plugs could only be found at specific locations,which were sometimes far from some classrooms where we needed to work. The drill that we used needed power and wires, which was rather inconvenient for us. In the end, we needed to borrow the extension cords from the school thus, delaying us. On the whole, we feel really delighted to be able to help refurbish their furniture by varnishing most of the tables and chairs, as well as build new shelves to further aid their learning.
Next, we managed to teach English and Math of simple standard such that the children were able to understand the lessons taught, such as nouns, verbs, adjectives etc. However, a minor problem was that most of lessons taught were already covered by previous volunteer groups, so our lessons served as a recap instead. Nevertheless, the children were still excited as the strategies we used, like songs and games (hokey-pokey, hangman), were able to keep them engaged.
Nearing the end of the day, to end off our two days of volunteering at the school on a happy note, we had an hour recreational activities, such as Monkey. Also, after the hour, we presented tokens of appreciation in the form of books, dictionaries, and posters to the school.
Even though we left the school feeling exhausted, we were extremely contented that we were given a chance to serve the school.