I was asked to give a talk to 2nd yr students to prepare them for their teaching posts. Next question was 'half day or full day?!' Since a half day is almost 4 hours I opted for that to break myself in gently and planned a practical workshop to promote and demonstrate the use of simple, inexpensive teaching tools. It was my first time working through a translator so was quite strange. I prepared almost every word beforehand so that I could read each sentence for Sokha to translate. It's funny that it seems to take twice as long to say something in khmer as to say the same thing in English.
I don't know how long it took to get the cane out of Cambodian classrooms under the Child Friendly Schools Initiative but it took me only a few minutes to re-introduce it. The college Director was very impressed by the simplicity and effectiveness of my bamboo counting stick. I was addressing trainees who will be taking up jobs in rural areas where they have very few resources and no budget. I had asked Sokha where I could buy one and he laughed – 'Buy? They just grow!' By the end of the workshop they had all made a Target Board, Dart Board, Dice or other maths resource to take with them as well as ideas on how they can be used. You can see from the photos that they weren't working under the most comfortable of conditions.
The end of Teaching Practice gave me the opportunity to get to know some of the first year trainees I've been helping as I was invited to the parties. There were speeches (including one from me!), food and finally Karaoke and dancing. Food varies. Some is very tasty, some not so tasty and some I just can't touch!! Intestines are a favourite with khmer people. My first attempt at Khmer dancing was fun after the initial shock. I heard my name being announced and realised I was being asked to start the dancing with the head teacher! It's quite slow, you dance with a partner and there are set steps that are quite easy to pick up. The problem is coordinating your feet with the hand movements. I found it difficult to get them both right at the same time! The etiquette is a bit like ballroom dancing, I had no sooner sat down after one dance when I was politely requested to dance with someone else. Just as well movements are slow as it was very hot.
|Speeches at sereisophon Primary School|
|Cambodian dance at Sereisophon|
|With teachers from Kampong Swai Primary School|
|Dancing with trainees at Kampong Swai|
As the academic year winds down there is not a lot I can do other than make observations and plans for next year. A Belgian NGO has given us a reading scheme to implement in some of the schools so I'm also familiarising myself with those materials.
Meetings and workshops are announced at short notice. I was given a letter on Friday inviting me to make a speech on Monday. I didn't realise it was for the Graduation of trainees as that had been scheduled for next week. Sokha and I prepared an introduction and conclusion in Khmer and the rest in English. It was nerve racking sitting on the stage with the Director and Education Officers as it's all very formal. Just before my turn a young trainee sang a beautiful poem. I couldn't understand it but her voice was so lovely that the butterflies started dancing in my stomach. I actually needn't have worried. I brought the house down when I struggled to get my tongue round a khmer word then afterwards trainees wanted me to repeat the words 'good teacher' so they could copy my accent. I guess I got the message across!!!