“When teaching in a private school in Phnom Penh, it is easy to feel disconnected from the people who live a very difficult life in much of this city. Last week I had the opportunity to visit and volunteer in slum schools and see first hand the work being done by Empowering Youth in Cambodia…
…We, Canadian teachers, had an hour to work with 2 classes. I started with the class of sixteen older students who were 12-16. They looked small for their age. Their classroom had tall tables and a long bench for several students to sit side by side. The world map was prominent on one wall.
We introduced ourselves. I showed them where I lived in Canada and they shared their name and why they came to school. They wanted to learn English. They wanted to be teachers or work in tourism. I felt very welcomed by the teacher and the students.
I had brought a cup, some water, and some paperclips. We filled the cup to the very top, then I gave each student a paper clip and asked them to predict how many clips would fit in the cup before it overflowed. This activity is from the grade 5 chemistry unit I have been teaching at school. As I handed out the second, third and finally fourth round of clips, their excitement started bubbling over, even though the water didn’t. Over 60 paperclips fit in the cupful of water. The surface tension principle worked in Cambodia too.
After I had their attention, we played a math card game where they had to race their partner in identifying a number’s “double”. The giggles and shouted answers sounded just like kids anywhere.
I did the same activities with the younger group. There were about 20 children, aged 6-12 in the other room. The response was the same. Kids love to learn, and they love to play. Their smiling faces and enthusiasm were clearly evident.”