A Travellerspoint blog

Spitler School


Our first day teaching was a great success! We woke up at 6 and got ourselves ready for school. The bus drivers and translators came to get us and we headed over to Spitler. Ashlee, Lauren and I work together at the spitler school and the other 3 girls are based at the other school. This morning Lauren and I had the grade 4s for activities and we organised a few learning games for them to help with learning colours and counting. We played What's the time Mr Wolf, The counting bus and red rover which the kids loved. We them used the outside classroom to teach a lesson on the numbers and colours. It was certainly challenging trying to communicate but the kids were so good and we enjoyed it so much but by 11 I was exhausted!
Anthony and his family came to visit the school at around 9.30 and it was so lovely to have their daughters join the Cambodian kids in their games, what an amazing experience for them!
After our lunch and hammock ritual we headed back to the school to teach the afternoon session. This time I went into the classroom with Sineth while he taught the children and helped him. The children were learning the difference between “these are” and “this is” and it is so difficult to convey these concepts it has been a massive learning curve for me and I am so grateful for the experience. After that class I went outside to help with the activities and we had a new bunch of kids who were just as enthusiastic and gorgeous as the morning class. By 4pm I was exhausted!! As Lisa said when you are a teacher you are always performing and on “stage” and it really takes it out of you but it is also so rewarding.
So we drove home and we were all buzzing about our day and also very tired. We decided to go into town and get foot massages and something to eat. We found this great little restaurant in one of the lanes with the friendliest girls who were chatty and joking with us.. born saleswomen but the food was cheap with 50c beers, 2 for 1 cocktails and complimentary popcorn! I love the local beer called Ankor and so I had two with dinner before heading off to find the foot massage place.
We got a 30min foot scrub and 30min massage for $6. I love this place for its prices alone! It was so funny we were sitting there chatting while we were being pampered and Tara asked me if I had spoken to Anthony about what he thought of his visit to the school and so I messaged him on facebook to see what he thought and just as I pressed send he and his family walked right in front of us! He joked that he decided to reply in person 
After our massages we went to the Crepe shop and bought takeaway banana and Nutella crepes including one for Ashlee as it was her birthday already in Australia. Back at the guesthouse we all sat at the table eating our crepes and laughing and talking about our day.
Am so grateful to be a part of this opportunity.

Posted by sonya13 05:58 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Planning, Shopping and Yoga

sunny 30 °C

Another busy day in Cambodia! There is no school in Cambodia on Thursday’s and so we started the day by meeting with Jim and Lisa and discussing what we would be teaching on Friday. We nutted out what the schedule would be and what sort of things we would be doing and worked out what our sustainability project should be. We decided that we are going to do up a handbook full of ideas for English lesson based one what we do over the next month and a Volunteers handbook. We hope these two resources will help the Spitler school long after we have gone. We then went shopping for supplies. We went to a local stationery store that had a huge range of supplies and did what all teachers love doing .. and that is shop for stationery supplies! We ended up with a huge garbage bag full of supplies for the school which is going to be soooooo good for them. We are going to try and raise enough money for a printer and photocopier for the school to help the teachers out so don’t forget to help out if you can even $10 can make a huge difference to this community!
We then had lunch which again was delicious.. there are so many different food places in Cambodia and they are all so delicious. I had a vanilla and cashew shake that was to die for. After lunch we went back to the guesthouse and brainstormed our lessons for the next day. I am at the Spitler school with Ashlee and Lauren and we worked really well together to come up with some fun ideas. We then went to a local handicraft market that had some beautiful things but were a little bit expensive for me. It was also very, very hot and I was uncomfortable and not in the mood for shopping so managed to not spend any money. The other girls picked up some beautiful things though.
After the markets we went to a supermarket to pick up some supplies like toilet paper, snacks and drinks. This little shopping centre was so cute it had escalators which was very modern but they didn’t work so you still had to walk up them the old fashioned way.
By the time we got home we were all ready for a bit of time out. It has been such a full on week and we are all starting to feel it a bit. So I checked facebook, updated my blog and organised myself for tomorrow. I then facetimed Gary and the kids who were at Mal and Michelle’s place so managed to talk to them as well. It was nice I went up on the rooftop which is such a nice quiet space.
After a shower I got ready for our yoga class that Ashlee, Lauren, Lisa and myself had decided to go to. We went to a place called the Peace Café and paid $6 to do an hour and a half of yoga. I thought it was the strangest yoga class I had gone to but still enjoyed it even if I couldn’t do half the poses. I was relieved when afterwards Lisa said that she too thought it was weird!
We decided to eat at Two Dragons restaurant that had 75c schooners of Angkhor beer which I have developed quite a taste for and it was icy cold and delicious. I ordered the tempura prawns and we talked politics, education and life while enjoying our food and cold drinks. It was a lovely way to end the day.

Posted by sonya13 07:08 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

First day of School

sunny 30 °C


Our first day at Spitler School was amazing as I suspected it would be. The students are just so bloody adorable. The school system is very different over here, school starts at 7am and goes to 11am and then they have a 2 hour break and the next session starts at 1pm and goes to 5pm. The children either come to morning classes or afternoon classes and in their off hours they can come back to school for bonus lessons where they can do extra English classes if they want to. Of the 38 students in one of the grades we taught 15 or so turned up to the optional class. Can you imagine kids in Australia doing that!
The good thing about Spitler school is that they are working with the local people and not trying to impose our western ideals on to them. The ultimate aim of the school is to eventually hand over control back to the Khmer people which is wonderful. Resources are so cheap over here compared to what we pay but so expensive for the local people. For $111 we bought a huge pile of stationery for the school. So remember if you can help financially please do and know that even the smallest amount makes a massive difference to these people.
They were just donated a glass whiteboard which they were very excited about as the traditional ones deteriorate in the weather and become impossible to use.
The children are so eager to learn and play games, we had the best fun with them. Today was all about observing and seeing how everything went but we ended up joining in and helping them with their lessons and Ashlee started a game of simon says with them that had everyone in stitches. She then organised a game of silent ball with a small group of kids that were just hanging around the school which soon escalated to the whole school when the bell rang and the kids came out for their 10 minute break. The students do 40 minute lesson and then have a quick 10 minute break where they run around like crazy people for 10 minutes and then settle down for the next lesson it is really quite amazing.
I have no experience with early childhood or primary education so am relying on the girls heavily on how to do activities and lesson plans for younger kids but am surprised at how much I am enjoying it. I even managed to get into all the dances like “If you’re happy and you know it” and “Head, shoulders, knees and toes”.. actually got a bit of a workout from it.
For lunch we went to a nearby restaurant where we got a beautiful 3 course meal that was delicious and when we were finished we went out to the back of the restaurant and laid around in hammocks until it was time to go. I highly recommend it for a great lunch time break! The day went so fast and I was so excited to be a part of it all.
When we arrived home we met up with Billy and Davy and went over a few of the logistics including talking about how we wanted to make our time here sustainable and not just flit in and flit out again without any really lasting impact. So we are going to have a big think about what we can do to make our stay have more of a long lasting impact.
We then all dressed for dinner as one of my old school buddies Anthony Evans was in town with his family and we decided to meet up. It was wonderful to meet his wife and twin daughters and we ate at this fabulous little Italian restaurant called L’Oasi which had yummy pizza, risotto and pastas. I ordered a bottle of beer and they brought out a tally LOL.. needless to say I was a bit tipsy by the end of it. Was a lovely night and I really enjoyed catching up and they are going to come out and visit the school on Friday which is very exciting. When we finished dinner we headed back to the guesthouse and we all piled in Kristy and I’s room and watched a movie slumber party style called About Time it was a lovely rom-com by the Working Title guys and I would highly recommend it 

Posted by sonya13 01:45 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Epic fail to a great day

sunny 25 °C

We all slept in this morning I think the last few days had finally caught up with us. When I woke up I saw Davy and we organised to go and buy the cameras for the school. I had received some donations from home and so offered to pay for them with that money. I looked in my wallet and realised my visa card wasn’t in there, looked everywhere and it was nowhere to be found. I then remembered that I had tried to use it at a shop and the line didn’t work and I am pretty certain I left it there. Luckily Ashlee came to the rescue and gave me her card and I will just transfer the money into her account! Also a huge thank you to my bestie Kim who works at the NAB and quickly cancelled my card. I was like this is no biggie I have my cashpassport card I will just use that instead.. only problem I couldn’t remember my pin number.. good god I don’t know what the hell is wrong with me! This a put a bit of a downer on my day as I was frustrated with myself and a little bit concerned about accessing money. Luckily my hubby came to the rescue and rang the company and they gave me my pin number so all good!
After we bought the cameras and tried to find my Visa card in the morning we met Lisa and Jim who are our contacts at Spitler School to discuss our schedule and had a lovely lunch and worked out what we would all be doing. I am happy and excited to be working with this school I think it is going to be amazing and I can’t wait to meet the kids tomorrow although I am also a little nervous as it is going to completely out of my comfort zone! While we were all looking at our schedules and working out what we would be doing some old French dude came into the restaurant and berated us for all looking at our phones instead of talking to each other.. we tried to explain we were having a meeting but he didn’t understand English so we told him to nick off LOL.
After we had settled our schedules we headed off in tuk tuks to Ankor Wat temple as we wanted to be there when the sun set but we went to the wrong temple it was still very very cool though and I can’t wait to go back. It is an amazing place with so much to explore it blows your mind.
For dinner we headed to this local restaurant with NO tourists that served exotic local meals I decided to try the duck and red ants dish and grilled frog. Loved the duck and red ants but was not a big fan of the frog’s legs they just tasted like not very tasty fish. We had such a good night though and were laughing and joking with each other as we all shared our food and tried all the different dishes. I am with a great group of girls.. everyone is so different but wonderful in their own way. We were going to go back and watch a movie but decided to chill out and have an early night so we are all fresh for our first day of school!

Posted by sonya13 06:57 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Concert Training

sunny 24 °C

Today we spent the day at a child protection briefing run by the Cambodian organisation Concert http://www.concertcambodia.org/ This was a fascinating and important part of our volunteer program as it taught us how to recognise genuine charities who have the best interest of children at heart. The guy that runs the organisation is a guy by the name of Michael and he was wonderful and funny and helped educate us on the do’s and don’ts of helping in Cambodia. It is a complicated process but needless to say if you want to do any volunteer work in Cambodia please use one of the organisations approved by Concert as they go to a lot of trouble to make sure the programs and organisations are done in the best interest of the children. Unfortunately there are a lot of dodgy set ups – some run by people who mean well but are doing more harm than good and some who are profiting from the desperateness of families in poverty. Here are a list of the organisations approved by Concert http://www.concertcambodia.org/siem_reap_organisations.aspx Another important thing to keep in mind is to never, ever visit orphanages and be very wary of supporting particular orphans. Have a look at this website to look at the frightening statistics about orphanges in Cambodia http://www.vice.com/read/cambodian-orphanages It has become a profit making enterprise in some situations and well-meaning westerners can make it worse.
I know I make it sound dire but it was actually a really inspiring workshop as we now feel confident that we are going to be doing a good thing while we are here and we know exactly what our role is. I also can say that Spitler school and Antipodeans Abroad are great organisations doing lots of good things for the local communities. If you want to donate please go to my Go Fund Me page http://www.gofundme.com/2w301o and know that your money can literally change a whole community I have seen first-hand what it can do.
We also got to know one of our translators a bit better a very sweet guy named Pech that for the life of me I cannot pronounce his name and so told him I will have to call him Mr P much to his amusement. We walked home from the talk and picked up our laundry which was beautifully washed and folded.. gosh I would love this at home! We dropped in to the local phone shop to see how much it would cost for the girls to replace the screen on their iphone and he said $3 we were stunned but we found out later he wasn’t talking about the same thing we were this language thing can be quite painful. We did find out that we could get it done for $40 which is still way cheaper than Australia.
We headed into town for dinner and ended up at the Red Piano – another fantastic dinner and I had a “Tomb Raider” cocktail that was apparently Angelina Jolie’s favourite. Every 10th cocktail sold you got for free and every 100th you one a t-shirt and $100 but I wasn’t that lucky although we did see somebody else win a free one so it wasn’t a scam. While we were eating we could hear this lovely music playing and realised it was a band consisting of land mine victims so after dinner we all went and gave them $1 each. Lauren really wanted a pedicure so we went for a walk to see if we could find a place and we spotted fried spiders. I had made it a mission to try fried spiders while I was here and so I hooked in and ate the legs I couldn’t bring myself to eat the squishy body though!

We had a look through a night market where we knew they did pedicures and massages and all of a sudden there was an announcement that there was a ladyboy show going to start. I cannot begin to describe to you how good these guys were. The costumes were amazing and they just were so entertaining. We were in stitches.

After our pampering and a show we headed home where I managed to write this blog. I am going to head to bed as tomorrow I am hoping to go for a run, before buying some equipment for the school with the money some of you guys donated and then having lunch with Lisa from the Spitler school to discuss our schedules. Tomorrow is Victory Day in Cambodia which is why we are not teaching. The Victory Day commemorates the end of the Pol Pot Genocidal Regime. This important ceremony is marked by a military parade, carnival floats, and national achievements. All over the city, flags and bunting as a sign of national pride adorn the front of shops and houses in all the main thoroughfares so that should be interesting to witness.

Posted by sonya13 07:39 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

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