Global Service Scholar: Kimberly Corona
As the days go by during my stay in Cambodia, it is easy to recognize and find patterns in my daily routine. My day begins at 7 a.m. breakfast time at the Victory Guest House. I try to be spontaneous and order something different from the menu every day but find myself easily returning to the chocolate banana pancake and lemon juice. At 7:30 a.m. the three tuk-tuks transport all 12 of us students to TREAK Community Center to begin our daily work. The rides to the school are often bumpy as the heavy rains create an uneven path. We arrive at 8 a.m. and take a seat at the Visitor Center Office. As we settle in we hear the students sing and chant during their morning assembly.
Our time in the school begins at 8 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m. with a two-hour break in between that naturally divides the day into morning and afternoon work. Our morning work is often varied in tasks as we are free to choose between tasks such as creating recycled bricks or helping in the classrooms. Saline, a supervisor, demonstrated and gave us the recipe to build the bricks: lots of toasted and pre-cut plastic bags, two wheelbarrows of sand, one bag of cement and two and a half buckets of water. After mixing the pile with a shovel we insert into molds to form the bricks.
It wasn’t until the second week that we focused less on manual labor and were assigned tasks related to the school curriculum such as testing, hygiene, and general studies. I was most interested in testing and chose to be in that group along with my three peers. We work closely with the head teacher, Chun Peechy. During the morning, my group and I sit in the Visitor Center and create an English midterm and final for each grade level. The exams have four components, reading, writing listening and speaking. Our responsibility is to create a test for each grade level based on the textbook the students read.
Our two-hour break begins at 11 a.m. and ends at 1 p.m. During this time, all school staff leaves to get lunch and there are few children in the school. My typical lunch consists of cookies and a loaf of bread I purchase in the school’s small store. During that time I like to watch shows on Netflix but found that some children wanted to watch movies too. I usually watch Disney films with three children that always stay during lunch.
Our break comes to an end when the second assembly finishes and the students go to their classrooms. I spend the rest of the afternoon in the library. The library is fairly new and the librarian, nicknamed Sunflower, is also fairly new to the job. I help Sunflower decorate, organize the library and create crafts for students. The library is open to students during their break and is filled with English and Khmer books as well as learning enhancement bored games. We teach origami to students that come in during their break and we hang their art across the library as decoration.
Classes come into the library for an hour. The classes are divided into small groups and tutors read about 5 books with the group. The kids are typically enthusiastic when reading. They repeat every word in the book and their united voices fill the room. Despite the loud ambiance in the room the children do not seem distracted; rather, they just shout louder.
After reading the books, the teacher gives the option to continue reading or to play games. The students students unanimously choose games. The games I play with the kids vary between puzzles, bingo, connect four and Jenga. We wrap up the games at 4 p.m. and help Sunflower clean up and lock up before heading to our Tuk Tuks.
On arrival at the guest house, we rest for about an hour and head out to the city to search for a new place to eat. It is typically a 20-minute walk to the Night Market where we find restaurants. The walk is refreshing as it is cooler, however, crossing the streets is always tedious. There is no apparent traffic enforcement such as street light signals.Tuk Tuks drivers are constantly asking if we need a ride and it becomes the norm to be asked if we need a ride every couple of minutes.
My typical dinner consists of fried rice and chicken. After eating we walk around the night market and see the colorful and rich culture on display for tourists. At around 8 or 9 p.m., I usually arrive in my room. The weak Wifi connection helps me stay away from electronics and sleep right away.