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Ivanhoe Grammar School Cambodia Service Project 2023 – Day TWO Students’ Reflections

IGS Day 2 Reflection

To continue from Day ONE Reflection blogging of the Ivanhoe Grammar School Cambodia Service Project 2023, this article reposting the reflections from the assigned students on their Day TWO experience and impressions:

Day 2, Team 1 reflection

Yesterday we started the day off bright and early to go teach again at the local school. Since it was our second time going, we had somewhat of an idea of what to expect. Nevertheless, the ambient faces of the children as we walked through the doors was absolutely overwhelming, something that none of us could ever have prepared for. Every single one of those kid’s faces was lit up with a beaming smile the minute we walked through the gates of their school. Their enthusiasm left us all just speechless. After spending a couple hours of teaching, giving piggyback rides and playing the Cambodian take on of duck duck goose, we sadly said our goodbyes to both the primary and secondary students we had met and went off to the Champey Academy of Arts. We all watched and took part in many of the traditional/celebratory dances. The boys had a go at the traditional monkey dance, while the girls were able to try on the Sampot, which is traditionally worn in Cambodia when dancing. After that, we walked through the village to the Royal Palace where we saw the amazing architecture while Vesnea recalled the history of the surroundings. Shortly after we experienced the rapid changing weather of Cambodia by a sudden rainstorm. All drenched and exhausted from the big and adventurous day, we made it home before going to dinner and then ended with a very well earned good nights sleep.

Ale and Sachi

Team 1, Day 2

Today team 1 visited Neak Krawan school in Phnom Penh. Over a three hour time period we spent time with the students. We split into groups of four, teaching them various basic English lessons including numbers, the alphabet, and colours. This was such an amazing experience, building really strong friendships with these beautiful children. We got to see how majority of Cambodians schooling experience is, and see how it differs from the Australian experience. It was so nice to see how we could impact them and help further their learning journey. After this it was a quick stop back to the hotel, where we got some lunch and then we went off to another school which specialised in performing arts. Here we watched them perform and then also got to be a part of the performing experience by doing some dancing workshops with their guidance. It was amazing to get a look into parts of their culture which we haven’t experience anything like before, which was really cool. We then went on a tour of the Royal Palace, which was another amazing cultural experience. Overall it was an amazing day, and we are thoroughly looking forward to the rest of the trip.

By Ella, Summer Jacob and Monica

Hamish Noonan Day 2 Reflection

I don’t think that today will be matched for the rest of the trip. This day long trip to a school just outside of Phnom Penh was one of the most fun and fulfilling experiences of my life. When we first arrived, crowds of young kids came running over and we in combination with them were so excited. We played soccer and the parachute game and their smiles and excitement were extremely contagious. Then, when the second group of kids arrived for their classes, I walked around with Ed, Doctor Savage and a small group of Cambodian kids performing card tricks in front of packed classes. The tricks were almost perfectly successful and i think they were enjoyed them. The best part was the soccer game we organised in the rain, with key performances from mini Messi and the rest of the group, their passion to keep going during pouring rain and have the best time together completely warmed my heart.

Team 2, Day 2. Starfish School; Graveyard community; Royal Palace; Dance workshop.

Although today was lots of fun, it was also challenging and at times quite confronting. This was especially true for our visit to the Graveyard community, where the families who cannot afford land have established their homes in and amongst the cementry. However, it was amazing to see how even those who have so little, living in some cases on mounds of rubbish without electricity or a working toilet, were still so happy and proud of their community.

Later in the day we visited the Royal Palace where we were guided by local school children. A highlight was being able to talk to the guides about their lives and hear about our shared love of participating in sunday football games. This was also another opportunity to learn the language and how to say basic phrases. The architecture was interesting and quite different from Australia’s with lots of space between buildings which was filled with gardens and wide pathways. A memorable feature of the palace was the mural painted along the wall which told a story as you walked along it. We enjoyed listening to the story written within the wall and looking at the details in the paintings.

To finish off the day we got to visit a performing arts school that is keeping the cambodian arts alive. We got to take part in an incredible dance workshop where we saw traditional cambodian dances and become immersed through warm-ups, dancing and wearing the skirts used. I think the highlight was witnessing the guys attempt the monkey dance, it definitely brought smiles to our faces. The workshop was a great way to learn about and experience the arts of Cambodia in a truly engaging way.

Jess, Mei and Astrid

Group 3 Saturday June 17 by Yosip and Nick,

After a well-needed sleep and a big breakfast, we hopped on a bus to visit a primary school in the outskirts of Phnom Penh. One thing we noticed as we moved further from the city centre was the sudden difference in living conditions, such as the lack of infrastructure and a change to a more rustic lifestyle. Despite this, we were greeted by young, enthusiastic, and excited kids eager to learn about ourselves and our language. While some were a little shy at first, as we progressed and learned about their interests, such as the universal language of football and volleyball, it became much easier to interact and bridge the gap. For many of the young boys, simply asking “Messi or Ronaldo?” was all that was required to spark an enthusiastic conversation, and in turn, a close connection. As we started teaching, we were surprised at their grasp of basic English skills. However, there was a noticeable gap between those who were extremely fluent and those who struggled with recalling the alphabet. Despite this, it was fulfilling to teach the kids topics such as, letters, numbers, body parts, and even more rewarding when we made them laugh, even if it was through our embarrassing attempts to speak Khmer. We indulged in games of skipping, frisbee and intense soccer matches played on dirt and rocks which resembled the intensity of the World Cup Finals with star players on beath teams. We personally found that simply kicking the soccer ball, throwing up the volleyball, and laughing together with the kids was an unforgettable experience that truly opened our eyes to the different lives we live. At the end of the day, having made such strong bonds in surprisingly such little time, we all struggled to say goodbye to the contagious smiles looking up at us.

Once we finally had sad our goodbyes, on the bus trip back, it began to rain heavily, partially flooding the streets. We were again surprised at the Cambodian people’s resilience as they travelled on their bikes and cars through the knee-height water. After arriving back, we freshened up and went back out for a beautiful dinner by the riverside.

Dante Cincotta Day 2 Reflection – Team 4

It was an exciting experience being in a Cambodian school for the first time and i am grateful for all the kindness and generosity I received. The children’s excitement when we played games such as soccer, frisbee and basketball was unforgettable.

During the middle part of the day we read them stories in the school library. I learnt that people from any culture can connect over stories despite language barriers. We learnt some Cambodian greetings such as hello and goodbye which allowed us to communicate with them more. The smiles and laughs continued from when we arrived until long after we left. It is nice to know we have left a positive impact on these children.

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