After I came back to town (civilization!*), I heard some news from a new French volunteer. When I first came here, I was teaching at the Boys’ Centre in this town for a few weeks. The new French volunteer told me casually that he’s now staying there and sometimes the boys asked him to play some videos on the computer. So I asked him to describe the videos. As he described it, I raised my eyebrows because they were exactly the same videos that I used to teach those kids back in May this year!!! They are still watching them!! The new French volunteer didn’t understand why I was so excited until I told him the history. He was surprised and happy too. The kids didn’t forget about them!! I was so touched!!

So, back to my current status. I’ve got another assignment. This time, I will work in a different village (yes, village again) close to Phnom Penh which is the capital city of Cambodia. The village is less than 1 hour away from Phnom Penh (with the traffic and road construction, it’s around 3 hours) so that’s good (more civilization* than the town). And this time, the target students are college students. It’s pretty interesting. I taught working adults English when I was in Hong Kong, then I taught primary and high school kids in the previous village and now, I’m going to teach college students. The range is pretty broad for an English tutor. I am thinking, maybe I can write a thesis on this. 😉

I was taken to the college to have a look before I committed to this new assignment. The college has a proper library. Have I mentioned in any of my previous blogs that some books that I put in the library in the student centre in the village were stolen?! Those books were donated by the Hong Kong group who visited us in July. Can you believe that? People in the village steal books!! We still can’t find the culprit(s). I took all the books away before I left the village and had passed them to the person-in-charge.

The contract staff in the student centre in the village wanted me to leave the projector in the village. No way! I don’t know what he’d do to the projector. He leaves all the computer monitors on the school ground. They are exposed to the sun, the rain and the flood. If I left the projector donated by a school in Hong Kong in the village, how would he treat it? Also, the projector can only be connected to a computer. The student centre in the village doesn’t have a computer. I don’t know why he was asking for it. The best thing for me to do is to pass it to the persons-in-charge which I did. Let them decide. (Usually, after I say, ‘I will talk to the persons-in-charge’, the contract staff will not insist cos he knows he has no ground to support his request.) Anyway, it’s not my business anymore.

Computer monitors are exposed in the sun and the rain.
Computer monitors lying on the ground in the student centre in the village.
I asked my students, ‘Do you know what they are?’
They said, ‘Yes. Computers.’
‘What are you going to do with them?’ I asked.
They answered, ‘I don’t know. Ask <the contract staff>.’

Apart from the library, the campus of the college is very tidy and clean unlike the student centre in the village. It really depends on the staff, I can tell you. The contract staff in the village is known for being lazy (and stupid) so you can see rubbish everywhere on the school ground. It’s such a shame. The village is very beautiful! You can see that in the photos in my previous blog. It’s really a shame and the contract staff should feel ashamed though I don’t think he does / will. But he should.

An outdoor baptism pool filled with dirty water and mosses.
Yes, this is an outdoor baptism pool in the student centre in the village. There used to be some rubbish inside as well. So, this is an ‘improvement’.

As for my students from the village, some of them received their homework and will have their first online lesson tomorrow. It’s going to be a new experience for them. Learning English online!  They probably have never thought of this. In their world, internet = YouTube / Facebook = entertainment = karaoke on YouTube. They have never related it to ‘education’.  They also didn’t even understand when I told them I am taking some online courses. On the other hand, when I asked the staff at the college about the availability of WiFi, he immediately asked me, ‘are you taking some online courses? What course? Which university?’  At first, I wanted to tell the kids in the village about online courses, internet, information technology, but they were ‘too busy’ to even try to listen to me and they only wanted to focus on their current studies which would help them to get into a university and would eventually help them to become a teacher, a translator, a lawyer, a tour guide, and some other jobs that will be replaced soon.

Honestly, I really want to do something to help the people living in remote places. I want high quality education to reach all the people. But that will mean the villagers need to have internet which is getting more and more common now though. And that will also mean they need to have money to get internet access (hm… that’s a bit hard but some NGOs may be able to help?). Eventually, nobody needs to physically go to these places to teach (I got terribly bitten by mosquitoes. Even the locals are terrified when they see my feet) and the students living in remote places will also have access to high quality education. However, one of the consequences will be, nobody will want to learn from poor teachers. But ‘poor teachers’ is also very subjective.

Competition. With internet, we face another kind of (more fierce?) competition.

Look forward to the new assignments.  😉

*Though I always yearn for ‘civilization!’, it doesn’t mean I hate the village life. There is more fresh air in the village but it’s just that the culture, the mentality and even the manner of the villagers are different from the people from the city. And each village has its own culture so you can imagine, things can be quite complicated or maybe I should say, very simple if you ‘tune your frequency’ to theirs.  The question is, are you willing to?

P. S. The online course stopped a few weeks after this blog was written because my high school students from the village were ‘too busy’ with their other extra classes which included their paid extra English lessons with a Khmer teacher who doesn’t even speak or write proper English.

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