Global Service Scholar: Kayli Savage
Country: Cambodia

My visit to Cambodia has been so rich in culture, kindness, and people. The quality of life may be poor, but the quality of the people is far superior. They are such gentle spirited and hardworking individuals, that it’s hard to ever complain or think of any worries of your own.

Through my experience here, I had the honor of getting to know the teachers at Treak Community Centre, all of which have more than earned respect and admiration. Each and every single one of them displayed a genuine and deep dedication to their students. Their passion for teaching was not easily missed and was always delivered with incredible patience and high aspirations for their students.

The children all call the teachers by, “Teacher,” or “Tea-Cher,” abbreviated to just “Cha,” following the way it sounds when they pronounce the word. For me they would often call me “Cha Kayli,” yelling it in excitement or little laughs. I am going to miss being called this by them, as I often felt undeserving of the title. A teacher in Cambodia, is more than just an educator, but an individual who sacrifices part of their lives to better that of others. Teachers here are often paid very little, and most work one or two additional jobs. So, for me to be called teacher, and to be viewed as by the students as that important role model in their lives, felt like a privilege.

The biggest takeaway I learned from my time here in Cambodia and working at the school for a month was what it was to really be a teacher. To embody what it means, and to fully live out every aspect with the truest of intentions and dedication. The word teacher here was more than just a way to label an occupation but was more significant as a title of respect. It was inspiring to work everyday and be influenced by all amazing teachers and individuals. They were always kind to me, greeting me with the biggest of smiles. I learned so much from them through both their sharing of their lives and culture, and through the observation of their actions and interactions.

This experience has left me with far more than I had to offer in turn. As a person it has impressed on me the desire to be a sincere individual, to be extremely hardworking and diligent, and to exhibit qualities that are constantly patient and kind. As I hope to one day become a teacher, I have been left with role models that I am privileged to have known, and who I can only aspire to frame this life goal after.