After getting a taste of the Cambodian lifestyle, we transferred from tourist sites to a Montesorri school. I have never met so many children all full of laughter and love.
I was skeptical when we first arrived because they were more reserved than playful, as I had anticipated, but they soon warmed up to us. These kids have practically nothing, coming from poor families in the countryside, and yet still are so happy. I couldn’t help but compare their situations and schooling to back in the US. They don’t attend math class or sciences, but learn developmental skills and are taught songs and plays with morals and life lessons. I wonder how the kids here may change in attitude and character if this was the basis of their education style.
I was so impressed with them; we could speak easily with them and they had only been learning English for half a year, not to mention most of them are less than ten years old. Most of the children come from poor families and are not exposed to technology and social media as we are, so they loved the cameras and getting their pictures taken. The shy giggle they gave when we showed them their image is irreplaceable.
I was with one girl for most of the afternoon and had thought she was only 8 or 9 years old, and was very surprised to find she was 13. I have noticed that in all of the Cambodian people in general, always showing less years than they truly carry.
The one story I was really inspired by came from the woman who made education for these children possible. She had survived the Khmer Rouge by living in France, and has traveled all over including the United States. She lost most of her family in the Khmer Rouge and put her efforts towards education. She has put so much into building schools and expanding her programs, it has become her life. The love and hope she carries for the children in Phnom Penh and everywhere is incredible.
I have come to find that hearing stories like these of hope and survival has made me feel insignificant or almost guilty, but it also creates a fire of passion and inspiration to make me want to make a difference.