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Cultural Exchange Project

Our dear friend Michele, who used to live and work at a charity here in Sihanoukville, reached out to me recently. She now runs The Studio in the USA and was keen to do an art project together. The idea was to make short videos to exchange. She thought it would be nice to have our students share some things about themselves, along with some of their artwork.

This is the video we sent to them. Please forgive the subtitles, it is with no disrespect to our students excellent English, but rather the slightly shoddy microphone.

It was also a great chance for our centre to do something with all our age groups working together (our evening students worked as translators). The kids loved it and tried to paint things they thought would be interesting for others that did not know Cambodia well.

We then got to watch a video in return, which we thought was amazing, especially seeing the snowy scenes! We loved the project and are looking forward to getting back in touch.

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2023 in 2023

 

Getting to Grips with Study

Our primary students are smart, boisterous and a force to be reckoned with. They are a mixed bag of ages, as while the majority of the group has moved up from our early years classes eager to learn, there are also some older students who find studying difficult, and, regardless of age, are not yet ready to join our junior classes. 

Some of these are our most “in need” students, who miss classes with us and state school regularly, and therefore need extra encouragement. They are often the more disruptive students also, not from being “bad kids”, but from finding the adjustment to a learning environment challenging, and therefore becoming frustrated. They often come from more difficult backgrounds, so push and challenge things, to find their boundaries. Providing these children with a structured and safe environment is essential.

Kolab, our primary teacher, manages to successfully accommodate all these students, adjusting lessons to children’s needs accordingly. She is firm but fun! She teaches basic English, Khmer and weekly Maths. Science is coming soon! We make sure that lessons are as engaging as possible. We also do games and art to give the students a bit of a break and foster a love for learning.  

We hope with gentle encouragement all these students will continue to progress through the school system.

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2023 in 2023

 

Khmer New Year 2023!

Where has this year gone?! We couldn’t believe it was time to have our Khmer New Year party already. Luckily the kids had done a good job of reminding us it was coming up, with constant water fights.

All the teachers made such a huge effort to get the centre looking amazing, with traditional Khmer style being the order of the day. The children also decided to do more traditional dances this year, along with all the regular games, which everyone got to join in on. It is always so lovely to see everyone having such a good time.

Our evening students decided to get in on the action this year also, with a party in the evening, hosted by teacher Poty. It all ended in huge water fights. Needless to say it was a messy and glorious day.

Happy Khmer New Year to all!!

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2023 in 2023

 

Early Years are Key

Early years education is crucial to child development. It encourages creative thought processes and a love of learning at an early age which has been proved to increase the chances that a child goes on to reach their potential. In Cambodia, many children still miss out on this early education through lack of access to quality programmes.

Our pre-school numbers are growing, partly due to the current financial climate, where parents/carers are being forced to work longer hours in the search for stable income and therefore need a safe place for their children to be.

Leakana is our key teacher for this age group. While she has only been teaching for a few years, she is an absolute natural with kids. She runs a huge variety of engaging activities, sparking the children’s imagination and creativity. She is great at running group activities, getting the children to work together and show patience, along with having lots of fun. As a mum to youngsters herself, she is gentle and caring and her classes love her.

We have high hopes for these little learners in the future!

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2023 in 2023

 

The New School Year

The new school year has started well. We are delighted that many of our students have progressed to grade 7 so will now be studying at state school full time. That means that the students remaining at our centre get a bit of a shake up as they move up to their new classes too. So far everyone is getting on well. It also means we will spend more time out in the community, chasing up any missing students and checking on families.

We are delighted to have opened another evening class, as our previous 2 have proved so popular, and we are already bursting at the seams. Again there are several old faces from their time at our day centre, which is lovely to see.

The beginning of the new term also meant it was time for a slightly overdue spring clean, with all the students chipping in. Things are looking great and we are excited for the coming year.

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2023 in 2022

 

Wishing Everyone a Very Merry Christmas!

On behalf of everyone at the centre we would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

We had a fabulous time at our Christmas party, back to its best after the last few years! So many games and performances of songs and dances. Our decorating team, teachers Leakna, Kolab and Poty surpassed themselves with this years display, the photos hardly do it justice! A great time, followed by a well deserved break for the staff while they catch their breath and get ready for the start of a new term, and new school year.

With much love to you all and best wishes for the holidays!

 
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Posted by on December 22, 2022 in 2022

 

Cultural Exchange

We are very lucky to be undertaking a “Cultural Exchange”, with some art students from The Studio in Massachusetts, a creative space run by a good friend of mine who used to work here in Sihanoukville. We will be doing some art based on our families, homes, foods, seasons and holidays, and then make a video sharing these and introducing ourselves. In return we will receive a video from the USA students. It is a great opportunity to share some differences and similarities and make friends overseas.

As part of our programme we took some of our older students to the Pagoda to get some inspiration. Pagodas make up an important part of our holidays, both Pchum Ben, and Khmer New Year, as well as many other occasions. The artwork at them also captures some of the Khmer folk tales and long history. We are lucky that our manager Sokheang, has also worked as a tour guide so knows all of the meanings behind the statues and paintings. The kids enjoyed learning about their rich history. We look forward to making some art based on what we saw and to share it with others!

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2022 in 2022

 

Cooking Class

Since the Covid-19 lockdowns, our students school hours have changed. This means, while we used to have an even mix of attendees mornings and afternoons, we now have a very busy afternoon group and a quieter morning group. While this took a bit of adjusting for staff, we have made it work.

With smaller numbers of students in a group, we get to run activities that are not practical with larger numbers. One such activity we have done recently is cooking class. Poty’s students got together and made delicious fried rice and noodles for us all the morning students to share. We all agreed they are excellent cooks and the food was made even better as they had used some ingredients grown in the Goodwill garden! We are looking forward to their next creation.

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2022 in 2022

 

Busy Learning

Rainy season has set in, but has done little to dampen the spirits of our students. As sessions continue to get busier we have split students into four (from three) learning groups for English. This is so we can better cater to their learning levels. We have also been putting more emphasis on speaking practice and confidence in our older groups, along with increasing phonic practice.

The students have a real passion for learning and put as much effort into their Language, Maths and other “studious” subjects, as they do for Art and Craft or PE. Our teachers are doing a fantastic job at keeping them engaged and we have high hopes that these lessons will help the students to progress through the state school system.

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2022 in 2022

 

A Day in the Life…

We would love for you to take a look at this video, to get a peep inside the life of one of our students!

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2022 in 2022

 

Staff-led Workshops

In the last few weeks, we have been focusing some of our time on sharing our teaching experience with one another. Staff have chosen topics they feel they can pass on advice/tips about, and then have lead short presentations/workshops on these. So far we have had talks on classroom management tips, areas/types of learning, teaching techniques and lesson planning advice. It is a great way to bring out the best teachers in all of us and is also very enjoyable.

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2022 in 2012

 

A long delayed trip to the beach!

The weather has been somewhat unpredictable of late, with heavy, early rains and storms being seen in Cambodia. This has meant a few delays to a planned beach trip with some of our students. They have been very patient and understanding waiting for an appropriate day.

We took our chance yesterday, and while fairly windy, the rains stayed away and it was nice and warm. The kids had an excellent day playing in the sea and sand and collecting shells along the shore. Many families do not have the luxury of going to the beach often, so the children really make the most of it.

They filled up on sandwiches and mangos and headed home covered in sand and full of smiles!

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2022 in 2022

 

First Things First!

When Covid began, we put in place arrival procedures, so we could take the temperatures and sanitize the hands of students, before beginning classes. To keep the children entertained we would often play games or sing songs to occupy them while they waited.

It turned out to be a lovely way to start the session, with students and staff all together, setting a relaxed and friendly tone for the rest of the day. We have now extended this practice, to include stretches and light exercise, led by the ever enthusiastic Kolab and Leakna, to get everyone in the mood for a productive day.

 
 

Happy Khmer New Year!

We have finished this term with a small Khmer New Year party. 

As covid is still rife we were not able to invite the wider community to join the festivities, but it was still great fun to celebrate with the younger students. We played all the regular traditional games, with sack races, tug of wars, talc filled balloons and breaking of pots, along with eating lots of fruit and jelly. 

Everyone will spend next week celebrating with families and attending Pagodas. At this time they, with the monks, will make blessings to their ancestors, and ask for their ancestors to bless them with safety, success and luck for the coming year, in return. 

We wish this for you all too!

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2022 in 2012, 2022

 

Getting Creative in Preschool

Our preschool/early years classes are the most busy at the moment. The current economic situation is meaning parents and families are having to work for longer hours away from home, meaning we often have very young children joining in classes.

We spend a lot of time playing and creating. Teacher Leakna is especially good at working in groups, to help the children learn patience and sharing, while having fun at the same time. It also provides the children with a safe alternative to selling on the streets with parents/family members, or staying home alone.

Early years education is so important for children’s development so we are delighted to have so many young members of our center!

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2022 in 2022

 

A Lesson From an Old Friend

We were delighted to have a surprise visit from one of our old students this week. Back in the area to see family, he visited the center and talked with the staff and kids. We all remember him very fondly, as a fun, cheeky little boy, with firm friends. He initially struggled with speech development, but lots of practice with Kolab (his teacher) soon had him chatting away.

When he was 8 years old he moved back to his home province. We received updates about him from his relatives living near the centre. A few years ago they told us that he and his family had made the decision that he would become a monk, dedicating his life to Buddhism. He has been practicing for 3 years now, and says he enjoys the lifestyle. He is a lot changed as he has grown up and seems very content in himself.

He spent time to talk with our students (a few who he knew from his time with us) about what his day to day routine is like. What monks do, and the importance of being a good, respectful and kind person. The students were really responsive and enjoyed the discussion. It was amazing to see him again and know that he is doing so well. We wish him good luck for the future!

When he was a boy at the center!
Playing with friends
 
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Posted by on February 19, 2022 in 2022

 

Evening Classes Start Back Up!

We are delighted that after a long break we have finally been able to re-open our evening English classes!

These classes are so important as they allow teenagers and young adults to further their studies outside of either their state school, or in some cases, working hours. The high standard of these evening classes, provides our students with a thorough grounding in English, with which they have a far greater chance of securing university placements or finding gainful employment in their futures.

We very much hope to continue on this positive and progressive path, and thank you all for your continued support. We couldn’t do it without you!

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2022 in 2012

 

Wishing you a Merry Christmas!

We would like to wish all our friends and supporters a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

While we were unable to go through with our traditional Christmas party this year, we made sure to make time for some group games with prizes, and to hand out apples and other treats!

We wish you all the luck and happiness for the coming year and thank you very much for sticking with us!

 
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Posted by on December 24, 2021 in 2012

 

Lots of Lessons

After so much time away from formal education, many of our students have found themselves needing a little help getting back in the swing of things. We have spent time assessing their levels and finding classes that best suit their needs. We have also increased the number of “sit down lessons” to help the children catch up. The teachers are coming up with wonderful activities to help get the students re-engaged with their studies and ready for their Government School classes.

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2021 in 2021

 

The Doors Are Back Open!

After what seems like forever, the doors to the center are finally back open to all our students. The Cambodian government have been wisely cautious with lifting lockdowns, but have now allowed the full reopening of schools and NGOs.

The staff did a terrific job of providing support to families in the community while we were closed, but it is our center, the safe, supportive and fun learning environment, where we are really able to shine! To have it filled with our students again (with safety measures in place, hand sanitising, temperature checks etc) is a joy.

We often find the beginning of term to be our quietest time, as students get used to studying again and juggling their hours. This has certainly not been the case this time! Everyone has shown up eager to join in. The resilience of the children to survive such a difficult time, remaining positive, and maintaining their desire to learn and explore the world, is inspiring.

Let us keep everything crossed for luck, that the worst is finally behind us!

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2021 in 2021