C’est la Vie

Days before I left the village, I saw one of my grade 12 students in the students centre. She was packing and was preparing to leave the centre. She told me, ‘I passed the national university entrance exam and I got a scholarship to a college so I am moving there.’

I asked her, ‘are you going to study tourism there?’ Previously, in my lesson, she told me she wanted to study tourism and work in a hotel (but she has never been to a hotel, she said). 

‘Yes.’ She answered.

I congratulated her and then said goodbye.

We connected on social media though.

After I left the village, I got my current assignment in this college. I remember she mentioned the name of the province she was moving to so I messaged her and asked her about the name of the college she was getting into.

I was thrilled to know that it was the exact same college that I was going to work for!

Of course, we were very happy to see each other again at the college.

For me, she is an outstanding student and she is smart.

Like any other freshmen, she joined my English Club.  I was happy to see her in my class again.

But yesterday, she told me, ‘I passed the national “teachers exam” so I am going to leave this college and pursue my career as a teacher.’


I was told that the national teachers exam is very difficult. After the students pass the exam, they still need to study for two years before they can become a teacher.  The teachers exam she passed allows her to teach in any government junior high schools after the 2-year training. 

I felt sad. 

‘First of all, congratulations!  But I thought you wanted to study tourism and work in a hotel.’

‘Yes, but I like both – teaching and working in the tourism industry.’ She answered.

For some students, their parents want them to be a teacher.

In fact, a staff in this college told me students who pass the teachers exam are guaranteed to have a teaching job after the 2-year training. However, if they finish the 4-year Bachelor degree in this college or at any university, they still need to look for a job. No guarantee at all. Plus, there is a 2-year difference there. Hence, most of the students choose to become a teacher and leave the college / university they get into.

She attended her last lesson with me yesterday.  I bid her farewell after the lesson and we hugged.  This time, it was the second and the last goodbye.

There are two different teachers exams.  One is for those who want to be a high school teacher and another one is for those who want to be a primary school teacher. The results for the latter one are yet to be released.  So there may be more goodbyes.

I don’t want them to leave the college. I have heard a lot about the teachers in Cambodia especially the way they work. That’s why I don’t want my students to become a teacher here. Also, the role of teachers is changing. It has been discussed for quite some years and those in the developed countries are starting to change, gradually. For this developing country, I doubt that their teachers training can catch up with the rest of the world. I always hope that my students can stay competitive.

But, at the end of the day, this is their choice.

The only thing I hope is, they will become an inspiring teacher. This is also what I wrote to her last night.

C’est la vie.

Students were having a group discussion and doing researches online planning what to say in their presentation. There was a power cut so we all went outdoors. One of them was the girl whom I bid farewell to.

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