Teaching at Spring of Hope School For two weeks during January we taught at the Spring of Hope School in Svay Khleang, Kampong Cham. It was one of the most incredible experiences we have ever experienced. Everything there, from the people and culture to the landscape and climate, was a fascinating and new view of the world. Teaching at Spring of Hope School in Svay Khleang, Cambodia was profound, enchanting, and unforgettable. The hosts were pleasant, the children eager and excited to learn, and the community was warm and inviting.
We found the school to be a very special place although there were some things that seemed strange to us, coming from a western school experience. I’m not sure whether these differences are just equally effective but different ways of teaching but it seemed to us like the way we were used to worked better. For example, it seemed strange to us that the same teacher taught the same group of kids throughout their time at the school. I think it might be more effective to have them change teachers every year so in case they end up with a teacher they don’t learn well from, they aren’t stuck with it. I also can see how this might be difficult logistically. I also think it might be productive to have them actually speak instead of write English more of the time. Again, I understand that this can be very difficult to do. This being said, it’s a wonderful school and there were definitely also things at the school that worked a lot better than our own western education system.
In terms of the program aside from the logistics of the school, I think it was a very positive experience. I felt like there was always a way for me to find out any information I wanted although I still felt fairly uncertain about a lot of aspects of the trip. That being said, this was probably my fault more than anyone else's. The email chain from previous years trips was very useful.
Most of our days we spent teaching at the school. We would begin teaching at 11 and teach until 2. Thereupon we would break for lunch and rest for two hours, and then continue teaching from 4 to 7. The class environment was a real excitement, and the children’s passion to learn from us was infectious and invigorating. For me, this was certainly the most wonderful part about teaching. And while Oliver and I were the official teachers, by the end of the trip we most definitely learned as much from the children as they hopefully learned from us.
The relationships we built with friends from the village will be the most memorable part of the trip, for me. Many hours of our days were spent playing with kids in the village, dining with them and their families, or simply exploring the area. We would play all sorts of games that the children showed us, toss frisbee with them, and go swimming in the nearby river. We learned all their names, and even without the help of language, the bonds we created with them were truly special. It was the people that gave my trip meaning.
The living situation was beautiful and fantastic. Although it was different, I found this difference to be an integral and essential part of why living there was so phenomenal. The hosts who lived downstairs were beyond generous, and our friends who brought us our food and sat with us were an absolute delight to get to know and become close with.
-Oliver Meldrum + Ryan Harris