SeeBeyondBorders’ annual January ‘Teach the Teacher’ trip commenced on 8th January with seven teachers and five project team members joining SeeBeyondBorders for two weeks in Cambodia. In the first blog post, teacher Mel shares her first impressions.
The January 2016 team started filtering into Phnom Penh from Friday morning. Mixed emotions of eagerness, anxiety and excitement filled the hotel lobby as we all met for our first meal. Chatter was aplenty as we got to know each other, sharing our experiences and what had brought us to Cambodia.
It is obvious we all have a thirst to get to know more about Cambodia and its people, something we got to do on our cycling trip around Koh Dach, a nearby island. We stopped at a local silk shop and spoke to a confident and proud woman explaining her family silk business. She shared with us her persistence in trying to learn English to improve her family’s business and enjoyed the opportunity to practise. I could see a proud smile when she shared how her younger sister is now studying English and she can be there to help her. The importance of learning to her and her family shone through and she was only too happy to teach us how to make a scarf.
We’ve also had the opportunity to wander around Phnom Penh, visiting markets and taking in the different sights such as the Royal Palace and Wot Phnom, all building our context of Cambodia and helping us to understand life for Cambodians. As well as learning the basic hello and thank you in Khmer!
A beautiful cruise at sunset gave us a great opportunity to share the experiences we’d already had as well as talk about the expectations of our upcoming workshops and projects. We also got to observe life on the river banks as people went about their daily chores and moved about, as well as seeing an amazing sunset over the Palace.
The first couple of days in Phnom Penh have been so important for us to not only get to know the people we will work with in the next couple of weeks but also to get a context into the country we are guests in. We all come from different experiences arriving in the country, some first time visitors and others who have completed this project before and this is evident in our first reflection, which was a great opportunity to see the trip through different perspectives.
With many more experiences and reflections to come we look forward to our trip to Battambang.