Volunteering in Cambodia
Being in the US for the past 18 months had us missing the overseas life. We seem to be aging out of the overseas teaching market and maybe not ready to take on a full-time contract anyway....so this unique opportunity popped up some months ago. It promised to be a great opportunity - get back overseas and get to do some teaching again. So after applying, having a Skype interview, and being accepted, we decided YES! let's do it!
'Volunteer in Cambodia' is the name of the organization that we are teaching English for, for 3 months in the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh. We pay a small fee for room and board and teach local Cambodian students mostly ages 15 - 20 (but up to age 50) at the 'Conversations With Foreigners' (CWF) school. It has been a lot of preparation yet worth it. Such wonderful students from all economic walks of life. Our students vary in age from 18 to 50, placed in classes related to their abilities. Mostly mid 20’s but some older persons wishing to present themselves better in English so that their business or occupation will be improved. It's exhausting, challenging and very rewarding!
The organization takes the students' tuition and after expenses funnels the money to partner organizations that do work in rural Cambodia such as organic farming, working to provide safe drinking water, improve the quality of education and more. CWF has 4 semesters each year and brings in about a dozen teachers four times a year - what logistics that entails! They have a comprehensive 10 day orientation program that familiarizes us with the country, culture, students, local area, and academic needs, tools, and ideas for teaching.
Ann taught the lower levels while Billy worked with more advanced students. Each class is 1.5 hours and we taught 3 classes a day. There is a lot of time spent in planning lessons, activities, games for each class. Not having been language teachers, we really didn’t realize what a difficult occupation it really is. Many sounds that are made in English are SO foreign to other language groups around the world. In addition we have learned that it is not only sound and intonation, but cultural differences make some idioms and words practically impossible to explain.