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Project INitiate- Cambodia 2001 (2nd - 16th Dec 2001)
Voice from our On-Site Volunteers
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"Flying into Phnom Pehn we saw how flat the city and the surrounding areas are. It's the rainy season and a lot of the areas are flooded. Many houses are built on stilts or raised up, but the schools don't seem to be. Two of the schools we go to look more like blocks of bungalows set in a big compound - rather nice. The grounds of one of them is completely flooded at the moment and each time we have to wade through deeper and deeper water to get to the computer room. We can just picture ourselves standing in water and teaching! - the water has been into the room once before we are told. The schools are in poor condition and need many repairs - some of the roofs leak, the walls are permanently coated with a layer of thick dust blown in from unpaved roads, there is little or no electricity and therefore no lights or fans in most of the classrooms. The computer room will no doubt be the best room in the whole school once it's finished and one they will be very proud of."


Colourful stilt house on the way to school (
18 Oct 2001)




"This morning we set off to deliver computers to two schools. Our students plus many onlookers were there waiting - since our arrival in Cambodia in early October we have been constantly asked when the computers would arrive. They were all ready to help offload and install the PCs so we had them installed and working in no time. There was a palpable sense of excitement in the air, like at Christmas when I was a child, waiting to play with my new toys. Everyone was beaming from ear to ear and fighting to use the mouse and explore what was on the PCs. It's easy for us to become blase about owning expensive equipment, but this reminded me of the excitement I felt when I bought my first camera more than thirty years ago."


Our gallant students at Preak Eng School (
20 Nov 2001)




"At last we can start teaching properly! With twenty PCs in two schools, all the students have their own computers and progress is much quicker. But they're big classes for our hands-on methods, so we team-teach, taking turns to write, talk, help and scold. Everyone is enthusiastic (it's still new I guess!) so we get good attendance and participation. And the schools have tried their best to make us comfortable, despite their generally poor facilities. We use the headmaster's office for our lunch at Chay Voloman and he has recently bought us camp beds to cushion our midday nap! Over at Preak Eng we have been given our own key to the staff toilet (don't laugh, it's a luxury over here) and they have placed a small table in the computer room, which they keep stocked with bottled water and fresh coconuts from the trees in the school compound. It's the thoughtfulness of these small actions that is so touching. I just wish they'd call us 'Andy' and 'Ming' instead of 'teacher', as many of them are older and much wiser than us!"


The teachers at Chay Voloman School - enjoying the luxury of using a computer each (
29 Nov 2001)




"Excitement and joy come in many forms - we arrive half an hour earlier to class to find there are always students waiting for us. Some days when they find us working in the computer room, they sneak in for a quick practice or they look over our shoulders to see what we are doing. Our students here - a mix of teachers and students - are in their fifties or as young as ten. The teachers giggle, laugh and cheer for even a simple thing like opening a folder. The students are quieter - you see smiles on their faces and their eyes light up at every little thing that happens on the computer and sometimes a ripple of delight passes round the room. If you think their excitement and curiosity will be over after a few weeks, believe me it does not end - they'll be with us as long as we are here with them."

"At first we were not certain if it was a good thing to teach people in developing countries how to use computers - another mod con to upset their simple way of living. But our students live in or near the city, so we've to face the fact that they are exposed to modern society. It's better that we teach them properly and for free, and hopefully help them to get a job later. Some students take it further - sending emails to family, friends and us - their teachers. And if they get pleasure while they are learning, so much the better!"


Our bright students at Hun Sen School love having their picture taken (1
Dec 2001)

 
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