‘They’re my age,’ I thought.
My time thus far in Cambodia
Harry wanted us to be ready by 8:15 a.m. today. There aren’t enough hours in the day to sleep. I think 23 hours should be devoted to beauty rest and 1 hour for errands, school and work lol (you’ll never know how much I love sleeping).
Today, we were to meet with the directors from the Spitler Primary School and PTTCSR, which is a training college for the future teachers of Cambodia. We went to PTTCSR first. We were told we’d be teaching basically every day. Sometimes in the morning, sometimes in the afternoon, sometimes both. Seemed like we’d be teaching all the time. We were to teach English to the students there who were in our age group, around 18-25 and the students at the Spitler School were up to about 16.
All the students, dressed in light blue tops and dark blue bottoms, some barefoot and some not, sat in perfect rows ,facing us, in the courtyard. To them, we were practically celebrities. Since we walked off the van, pictures were being taken. They were really excited to have us and I ,still recovering from the trip the day before, looked anything but. I was more nervous and scared than anything else. “They’re my age,” I thought. This made me even more nervous. Impressing, entertaining and teaching those my age isn’t always an easy task.
Harry said there’d be nothing to worry about since because we wereare teachers, they’d respect us. I don’t want to be a teacher though. I don’t want to be called teacher or professor. We’re all just friends learning something new. I wouldn’t call myself a teacher, just someone who knows a little more about something. A teacher to me is someone who knows everything. Growing up, it seemed like my teachers always had all the answers.
After a few pictures and an orientation where we briefly met some of the students, we were on our way again.
We then drove about 10 minutes away to the primary school ,where we’d be teaching little tikes. The director and Harry talked schedules. It seemed like there’d be less time to do as we please and more time to teach.
Our schedules resulted in working in a garden at the Spitler Primary School Monday, Wednesday and Friday starting at about 8 a.m. Teaching from 9-11. Teaching at the college from 12-1. Lunch from 1-2. Freedom until 5 and then teaching until 6. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, we’d have mornings off and start at 12 pm and continue through until 6 pm.
Teaching was one of the things I was looking forward to most but teaching every day, seemed a bit frightening. We’d be coming up with lesson plans, talking about what we learned/taught today, etc. Meaning, there was less and less time to talk about or do anything else.
I went to the pool to cool off and ended up spending hours just outside. There’s something about being outside under sun light that always calms me and makes me feel better.
I ate and took a quick nap and just like that we had to go back to work.
I was silent the entire ride there. I still wasn’t excited. I was scared. I never taught a class by myself and they said each class would hold up to 40 students at the college. I really started to doubt myself.
We arrived at the school and Harry called us in for a pep talk. He taught us some of the do’s and don’ts. He told us about things that weren’t culturally accepted like showing the soles of your feet or touching someone’s head. All imperative information but best part was: it bought some time.
We walked toward the classrooms and I could feel my heart racing. One by one, we were handed our classrooms. When the first person, Paola, received their class and saw how happy and excited the students were, I couldn’t help but be happy and excited too. I couldn’t wait to meet my class.
I entered a room, classroom B2, and Harry introduced me. They all said “hello teacher.” I had 36 sets of eyes looking at me as I stood at the front of the class. It was nervewrecking!
I introduced myself. Told them how old I was, where I was from, enough so that they could feel comfortable. I gave each of them an index card so that they could write their names, favorite colors, age, amount of siblings, birthday, etc.
Now it was time for fun! I had them briefly introduce themselves so I could learn to pronounce their names, which was actually very difficult.
Then, we played connection. I would yell out certain questions and they had to find others who had similar interests. The last thing we did, was get in birthday order. Although some of them, couldn’t understand me. It all seemed to go fairly well.
I was excited to be back the next day. I walked them out and said good night to each of them. They said the same in return and bowed, which is their way of formally saying good bye. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to this.
As I walked toward our van, I thought how scared I was they wouldn’t learn anything. But that may be a fear all teachers have. I doubt any teacher wants to be a failure.
I want them to learn because for most of them, this is more than just learning English. This is their livelihood; their lives. I don’t want to mess this up.