My 2 Months at the Toul Ampil school
As a University Student for Business Administration, I had the opportunity to spend 2 Months at the Toul Ampil school in Phnom Penh, Cambodia from the beginning of June until the end of July 2018. The Toul Ampil school is an institution which provides under-privileged children with education in English, Cambodian culture and Language, and Math. As I was volunteering as an English teacher I spent 8 weeks as a part of the faculty and as an assistant teacher.
Upon my arrival I was welcomed warmly at the airport by the schools Principals wife, the Principals deputy and a local student who works as a receptionist at the school. Following Monday, as I started teaching, I met all the teachers and felt like I was a part of the school immediately. I was very impressed by the lineup, where all the kids would get in line and sing different songs, some Cambodian and some English. They would lineup twice a day, once before the morning classes started and once when the afternoon classes ended. As time progressed, I learned how to put some of the teaching methods my teachers used, into the cambodian context and improve the way I taught. Although I have to admit, that it was difficult at times to handle the language barrier, which not only existed with the children but also to various degrees with some of the teachers, I learned how to change my way of talking to make me better understood. I would start using small, not very good but expressive drawings on the whiteboard to help the children having an image to the word or number they would say. In the more advanced classes I started letting the children communicate with eachother in fixed sentences, so they could learn how to use them in regular conversations.
Why volunteer in Cambodia? Of course, Cambodia has a beautiful countryside aswell as many interesting sites like the ankor wat, but it is so much more than that. Only forty years ago, the country was dominated by the red khmer, who eliminated a big part of the population. They went specifically against educated people, where even you wearing glasses would be a death penalty, in an attempt to introduce them to the system of a farmers Nation. This being so close in time, every family was and is until this day affected by this dark chapter in their history. In phnom penh, I visited the toul sleng Genocide museum and the killing fields, to understand a little bit of what happened back then. After visiting these sites, I realized how much today’s Cambodia has been influenced by these years living under the regimen and how important education is in this country. At the same time I was proven how passionate they are about their families and friends. I have experienced the Cambodian people to be incredibly friendly and welcoming to foreigners.
My two months in Cambodia left a big impact on how I view life and different cultures. Thanks to the opportunity of teaching at the Toul Ampil school, I was able to increase my own skillset by being a part in their community. In my opinion the school is a great attempt to help under-privileged children to get an education they would probably not have without that school. I think It would be important to continue having English speaking people around to teach the children and maybe the teachers as well, to improve the English communication and take a bit of the insecurity surrounding the English language. However, being a volunteer at the Toul Ampil school can help everybody involved, including the volunteer, to gain new skills and improve the mutual understanding of different cultures, different languages and different life paths. If you have a true and vital interest in contributing to the school faculty’s endeavor to create a basis for their student’s future, becoming a volunteer at Toul Ampil school will be a great experience and more than welcome.