Sadly, we said goodbye to the beautiful Don Det and headed towards our next location: Kampong Cham. Two days of traveling via public CambodIa buses takes a level of patience which I am slowly learning to master. We stayed one night in Phenom Penh between evening and morning buses, until finally arriving at our volunteer placement midday on the 9th. Chiro Village is a small community about 4 km outside of the small city of Kampong Cham. Arriving here was such a radical enlightenment regarding what our lives will be like in the following weeks. Learning the culture of the people, experiencing the kindness of a homestay, feeling gratitude from students, and (honestly) lots of hard work obviously laid ahead. Yet, we were ready for this. We met our “mom”, Soka, who embraced us as though we were her actual daughters.
Then, we received a tour of the village, the school, the children, and the project from Sophol. Sophol is an incredible man who grew up in Chiro Village, but moved away to pursue a better education and life. Once he finished university, he realized he had to return to the village to aid his people, as they needed a leader to help them progress forward. Thus, he started his English school to allow children the opportunity to one day attend university and obtain a job outside of becoming a farmer in the village. Along with the English program he created, he has implemented a running water system (as of October!) along with numerous other projects such as feeding the elderly and providing scholarships for students. As we toured around, the children consistently emerged from unknown places to enthusiastically shout “hello!!” as Sophol explained all this to us. Luckily, a kind family from Holland reiterated in detail what to expect from the experience, which was definitely a nice translation helper.
As the sun set in inexplicably marvelous colors, we realized the village was going to sleep, so we did as well. Well rested teachers are good teachers right?