The Times Are A Changing In Cambodia
By Deanne Dwight & Amanda Hutchins
Hope Education Cambodia Team
Today was day one of Conference One at Salamon School in Phnom Penh. After a very early pick up, the team headed over to the school, full of excitement, nerves and anticipation of what the day would hold. For the new members of the team, seeing the sights of the city at the early hour was an experience in itself. For us oldies on the team, we are amazed at the progress that has been made in the 12 months since we were last here. High rise buildings are going up all over the city and the bridge overpass that was under construction last year, has been completed and has helped to ease some of the traffic congestion in the city.
Arriving at Salamon and seeing the faces of teachers ready for a full day of learning was great. To see the faces on the delegates as they collected their name tag on a smiley face lanyard and their conference bag was such a joy. As they opened their bags to see their manual in Khmer, a notebook, pen and highlighter, their eyes just lit up. For most of the teachers at the conference, this will be the only professional development that they will receive this year. For those people who have kindly donated to the Cambodia project this year, this is very tangible evidence of what your donation has gone to support and for this we say, thank you so much. It makes me appreciate all the more the system that we have in Australia, where teachers received quality professional development year round.
Above and below: Attendees receive their lanyards and conference bags
The conference opened with a time of worship and sitting under the Word given by Pastor Srin. The Khmer teachers were free in their worship and even the teachers who were not Christians were getting involved and receiving what Pastor Srin had to say. Our translators were second to none and were so helpful to us in getting our sessions across to the teachers. We could not do what we do without their dedication and assistance and for this, we as a team, say a very heartfelt thank you to them all. In Khmer, Aw Khun.
After the morning sessions, the teachers were split into different groups. The teachers of English and Early Childhood formed two groups for the remainder of the conference for some intensive instruction in those areas. The remaining teachers were split into four groups and will rotate around the following sessions for the rest of the conference - IT, Science, Music/Art and Maths. So everyone will get a taste of everything - a real smorgasbord for these teachers.
The buzz at lunchtime from the delegates and listening to their animated chatter to their peers about what they had been learning about was just so good to hear. To see their faces light up when they were explaining what they had heard and learnt gives me such a buzz and brings tears to my eyes. And that is what education is all about. These precious moments that words do not do justice to but the photos say it all.
A teachers joy
One of the regular attendees of the Hope Global Conferences in Cambodia for the past three years was asked to reflect on his learnings from the conferences over that time and why he is committed to bringing along his staff. He said that his staff get so much from the conferences and using them in their own classrooms. His teachers have changed the way that they teach because of their participation in the HOPE: Global Conferences.
Hearing this really does make all our hard work as a team worthwhile. We are on a journey of change in Cambodia, with education being key to that change.