Online… Offline… Both Are Face to Face, Please!

‘Wow! Online lessons! No way! No privacy! Everyone can see me!’  Huh?!  Online lessons <> live streaming on YouTube.

‘I prefer face to face.’ Huh?! You can see my face and I can see your face too.

‘No! I can’t learn phonetics online. I need to see your lip shapes.’  Huh?! I can see your lip shapes too.  Would you like to have a close up? 😛

These are the responses I got when I talked to some people from Hong Kong.  Nope, I couldn’t believe it too when I first heard all these responses.  All these remarks were made in the year 2019.

My student from Phnom Penh started her online English phonetics lesson with me last week. She did quite well and she’s very comfortable with having the lessons online.  She will then join my other students from Taiwan to have oral training soon.  I am very excited about it.

Guess which sound she is learning? 🙂

Back to the physical world.  A special guest (note, she’s not a janitor) came to the village and worked with the students to clean the schools and the dormitory.  Let me tell you a bit about their dormitory.  It is actually just an empty house without any partitions, rooms or whatsoever.  Students sleep on the floor.  There are a couple of wardrobes and two ceiling fans though.  Toilets and bathrooms are outside of the house. The toilets are squatting toilets and there is no flush.  It is very common to have toilets like this in the villages. Local people are used to it. For foreigners like me, it’s a challenge.  But again, things are changing as Cambodians are getting richer and richer. They have learnt about flush toilets (although some don’t know how to use them).

After working for the whole day, the special guest bought some food and held a feast at night.  These kids were of course very happy.  Some of them can’t even afford to buy a bus ticket to Phnom Penh which cost like USD5 for a return trip. Sometimes, I wonder if their financial situation is really that bad.  I am sure they can turn things around but it depends on their will and whether they have access to information.

I remember talking to the French volunteers who left a few days ago about my scholarship programme.  I said, ‘I don’t want anyone to come to me and say, “I have no money. I am poor. Please donate some money to me.” What’s the difference between this and a beggar? That’s why I want to establish a scholarship.  The students need to apply for it and tell the world why they deserve the scholarship. They can’t just sit there and expect people to donate money to them.  Otherwise, we will just be raising a bunch of beggars.  I don’t want the next generations to become a beggar.  We have the responsibilities here.’ 

These French volunteers came because they were working on an assignment for their degree.  They taught French and English (even they themselves said their English is not good enough to teach English) in a village different from mine.  Yes, there are many villages in Cambodia.  Their students held a farewell party for them. They gave them gifts, they sang and danced and some students cried at the end of the party.  It was a very emotional moment.  🙁

Quietly, the students listened to their French / English teacher sing outside their classroom

Well, it will be my turn in ten months’ time. I don’t think anyone will cry. I have been training my students very differently. They will stay positive and they will know they will be able to fly to see me no matter where I will be. 🙂 (It turned out I left ‘prematurely’. Why? Check out my blog here:

Leave a Reply