Friday, 4 March 2011

I-to-I day fourteen: Another week completed

Friday 4th March 2010

MP3 track of the day: Stand up as people – Lee Ryan

Weather: It's become hot again.

The day started it's usual way with the usual pancakes and the usual tuk-tuk ride. Sandy and I had to deliver a 'Sanitation and Healthy Eating' lesson today; we decided to follow the same format from last week and get all classes together in 'Class A', the biggest of the three classrooms. Our lesson was all about fruit and vegetables; it consisted of us holding up six fruit, and six vegetable, flash cards and asking the students to name each picture on each card. We then asked the students whether the picture we were holding was either a fruit or a vegetable. Using blue-tack we stuck the pictures to the whiteboard in their particular groups. We then gave each student a piece of paper to draw their favorite fruit and favorite vegetable. This took most of the lesson however, to spice things up a little, Sandy and I both drew our favorites (mine was watermelon and sweetcorn) to show the class. My drawing of a watermelon surprised me, it was rather good. My sweetcorn, on the other hand, was rubbish!

It was then time for break. After break the students broke back into their three individual classes and I went into see 'Class A'. Before the 'Sanitation and Healthy Eating' lesson 'Class A' had been busy being creative with coloured paper, scissors and staples. With the Cambodian teachers help they were decorating our classroom, and it was looking pretty good though not finished. I had organized a few games for today and, seeing as they were enjoying themselves decorating, I decided not to intervene. I sat down and let the Cambodian teacher lead, only offering assistance where needed. It took the whole lesson to complete the two rows of paper lanterns for the classroom. After this was done they left for lunch.

Unlike my normal lunches this one was packed with activities. First of all Sandy and I jumped on our tuk-tuk to have a quick look at the building work for 'library two'. It had been a week since we had last visited and limited work had been achieved. The only difference was that wooden support beams had been erected on the top of the building. Well, when I say 'wooden support beams', on closer inspection I hoped they weren't. Firstly they were quite thin and there weren't that many of them. Secondly, and a lot more alarming, was that the beam itself wasn't one whole piece of timber. Instead the beams were two pieces of wood nailed in the middle. This roof is supposed to support a further floor and I was extremely worried that it wouldn't support the concrete roof proposed, let alone another floor. Overall I wasn't impressed with the workmanship.

We made it back to the rented 'library two' for a quick lunch before the lady Cambodian teacher showed us around the villages within the area. There were two villages within walking distanced (unimaginatively named village four and village five) and so we went to have a look around. The weather was so hot that neither Sandy or I wanted to explore for long. We spent a little time within village four before coming to village five. There we stopped at a house while the Cambodian teacher talked to the owners. Five minutes later out popped a girl with a huge smile on her face; it was my star student (the one who had, yesterday, completed my test within fifteen minutes). She asked us into her home and, slightly reluctantly, I accepted. It was heartbreaking; the outer shell of the building was made of part brick and part wood, neither part was constructed very well. Their main room had no floor. It consisted of dirt, dust, rubbish and broken pottery. There was a badly constructed wooden ladder leading upstairs, a wooden trailer for sitting on and another wooden trailer with six piglets in, only born thirty minutes ago. The mummy pig was taking a well earned rest within the kitchen. It was lucky that I had kept wearing my sunglasses as the look of sheer horror, at my star pupils living accommodation, would have been apparent for all to see. And yet, throughout our visit, my pupil had the biggest smile on her face. Like I said earlier, it was totally heartbreaking. We continued through the village stopping shortly at two other houses before seeing the Cambodian teachers house. Her house was a lot nicer; all made of brick, the walls plastered and the floor tiled. She lived with her mother, farther, sister and niece. We chatted for a short while before returning to 'library two', aware that time was passing on and that it was getting hotter and hotter outside.

Once back at 'library two' I had a long, cool, drink of water before Sandy and I repeated the 'Sanitation and Healthy eating' lesson we did this morning. We had more students this afternoon, however we still managed to fit them into 'Class C'. The lesson went with the same success as the morning and it was soon time for break. After break we split the classes back up; as 'Class A' had now been decorated I played games with my afternoon pupils. I got them to sit around one desk and we played pairs. The Cambodian rules seem to differ to the British ones. Basically when one child turns over two tiles, that aren't matching, the tiles are jumbled up again. This action does not allow any student to remember what each tile is. This to me defeats the object, however the students were enjoying themselves. We had three of the longest 'pairs' games I've ever witnessed, two word searches and then it was time to go. The students said thank you and see you next week. I said the same.

Heading back to the guesthouse I didn't read my book, I was to exhausted. I was still pretty gutted about what I had seen this lunch time; I wondered how I could alter the situation. My star pupil told me that she wanted to be a language translator. She was certainly showing signs that she would be good enough, however I worried that money may stop her progressing as much as she needs. I really do hope not.

Once back at the guesthouse I just crashed for a while before heading for something to eat. I arranged to meet Sandy, and an Australian girl, to go and see the killing fields tomorrow. Once that was done I would get myself sorted for arriving in Ho Chi Minh city next week (coach tickets and accommodation). On Sunday I shall try to read more of my book and at some point over the weekend I shall visit the 'Blue Pumpkin' for my treat. As my classes new text book wasn't arriving until Monday I couldn't lesson plan this weekend either. Therefore its not a manic weekend, a nice and chilled one which is what I need. I can't believe that I'm down to my last week of teaching.

Toodle Pip!


  1. Just goes to show what we take for granted in the UK doesn't it? Glad you still seem to be enjoying it (mostly!)

  2. So true, it's such a different world.