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Monday, December 11, 2006

Deb - Volunteer Update #1 (November, 2006)

Outside the morning school

Students show off their assignments

Inside the classroom

You are #1 !

Volunteer work started Friday November 24th after a month of touring Thailand and Vietnam. My last stop was Siem Reap Cambodia where I plan on volunteering for three to four weeks.

The days start with the tuk tuk driver picking us up at the Journeys Within Guest House at 8:45am for the morning classes. This week I am working with two other volunteers from California. Each of us have been assigned to separate classrooms.

The morning class is in an extremely poor area of town. I was initially shocked at the facilities and the surroundings. There are three small classrooms each approximately 10 X10 feet in size with one entrance door, no windows and no lighting other than the lighting the entrance door provides. The intermediate and senior classrooms have benches and chairs for the students. The students in the junior classroom sit on the floor. Each classroom has a whiteboard.

On my first day I was assigned to the youngest class who range in age from 3-8 years old. Approximately fifteen to twenty children for each class.I was dropped off in the class and asked to teach English for 2 hours. The teachers spoke no English at all. No guidelines, no programs, no books to follow.... Surprisingly and thankfully the kids are extremely well behaved and very polite.

At 11:00 a.m. each day we are brought back to the Guest House by the tuk tuk driver for lunch and a swim.

The afternoon sessions are two one hour classes (3:00pm and 4:00pm). The classroom is located in a temple called Wat Thmei and approximately 1/3 of the students are monks.The Wat Thmei building is quite large, rectangular in shape, and has a classroom on one side. The school has newly painted walls, fluorescent lights providing plenty of light, and four ceiling fans to keep the building cool during the sultry afternoons.The students range in age from 15-20. I was happy to find out that this class has a book they follow - series of stories that we read, have them repeat and make sure they understand the meaning of each word.

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