1st-2nd October 2012: After a six hour bus journey the team arrives at our base for the week, the port town of Kampong Cham. The third largest (or is that least small?) city in Cambodia within the most densely populated province in the country is set along the Mekong. The group welcomes the breezy hotel balconies, relaxed pace and river views with open arms.
After a quick lunch the group heads to the Provincial Teacher training College (PTTC) which will be our teacher training base for the week. The teaching group quickly take control of their classrooms (typical teachers!) and get busy sorting through supplies and preparing for four days of intensive workshops.
The PTTC is in a beautiful leafy setting, and all are excited by the prospect of getting back to work this week with a new group of Khmer teachers in shaded classrooms with fans. The PTTC is also the home of SeeBeyondBorders’ partner in Kampong Cham, KAPE (Kampuchean Action for Primary Education) who coordinate the Teach the Teachers program in the province and organise the facilities for this week’s workshops.
The next morning after breakfast and (real) coffee, the team are ready to tackle the week ahead. Teachers and the Projects Team all arrive at the PTTC for a formal introduction to the new group of about 100 Mentor and Mentee teachers.
The teachers get underway and the Projects team head out to Kondol Chrum, about 30 minutes out of town. Kondol Chrum is large and set amongst mature trees making for a lovely shady environment. We are greeted by what feels like the entire school population (1,348 children)…but is probably more like half that. Even so our team of eight feels slightly overwhelmed at the prospect of entertaining 500 plus students ranging in age from 5 to about 12.
The team quickly splits into three teams, Julie, Maggie, Graham and Amy tackling an art lesson for the kindy kids, who need lots of help with the crayons. Ed, Anne, Marilyn and Cathy get the kids skipping and tossing footballs around, and a kind of order is established. Before we know it an hour has passed, and unbeknownst to the Projects Team some of the young boys have been “helpfully” painting retaining walls and paving…. The paint work is a bit of a mess but the entire team get stuck into some serious remediation and the end result is OK. There might be a few leaves and ants in some of the paint work. After a delicious lunch with the school’s Principal it is time to say good bye to the largest group of students the team has worked with yet.
Our interpreters, Mr Hun, Mr Suveni and Ms Lekena take the team to a “resort”. Something was lost in translation as it turns out the resort is an amazing and colourful Wat (temple). The Team marvel at the sculptures and the enormous reclining Buddha that is still under construction. This beautiful temple is a lovely way to finish off our time in the community.