Today was our second day at the floating village. The noises of the speed boats running up and down the river woke us up nice and early in the morning. We had some local fried bananas and chinese bread with pancakes for breakfast. It was a good way to start the long day we have ahead of us.
Our mission today was to teach and paint the local floating school. The local school starts at 7 in the morning and end at 11 where the morning students go home for lunch and do work in the afternoon. In the afternoon a new set of students come and study at the school from 1 till 6. The school is really small, with only 3 classrooms, so in the morning the 1st, 3rd and 6th grade students come to study. Then in the afternoon, the 2nd, 4th and 5th students come. Since non of us are professional teachers, and with the amount of time we were given to teach the students it proved to be a real challenge.
We made short lesson plans before hand, but when we reached the school the planned changed completely. My group has 4 people so we got to teach the 1st grades. They don’t know any English at all so when we said “Hello” to them, they just stand there and stared at us. We got Yi to translate for us and we started to teach them. The first we taught was how to say “My name is”. This wasn’t an easy thing to do because lots of them don’t know how to pronounce the word correctly, but the harder thing was that all of the kids are very shy and would try to hide when we approached them.
After a slow started we managed to teach them how to say “My name is”. We went around the room asking to say their name. It isn’t something big, but it was a great achievement for us. Next, since they are only 1st graders, we decided to teach them their ABCs. It was surprising that they don’t know their ABCs, as i thought that it was something basic that the teachers would have taught them. ABCs might seem like something easy to everyone, but it was a lot harder to teach it to the children. They had a hard time pronouncing specific letters like “E”, “F” and “H” as these type of sounds don’t exist in Khmer. We repeated a letter and told them to say it after us. Then we went to each kid individually and asked them to say it so we could correct their pronunciation, it was a long and tiring task to do. After getting to the letter “M”, the students seem to lose interest and we as teachers seem to run out of steam. This is when we decided to take a break by playing a game. We decided to split them up into two teams and test them on the alphabet that they have learnt so far. We would write down a letter and whoever says it correctly first gets a bubblegum. But since we didn’t want to lower everyones self esteem, everyone ended up with bubblegum.
We gave them a 5 minutes break and relaxed in the classroom taking a well deserved break. Teaching children isn’t as essay as it seems. We taught the alphabet after the break for a while longer then decided to teach them the “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” song. We first taught them how to say each body part and Yi translated it into Khmer so the children would understand. Afterwards we sang the song and pointed to each body part, this along with the song helped them to remember what each body part meant and how to say it. It was fun and exciting for both us and the children. Then we went back to the alphabet, we have to finish what we started teaching, even though it was the last few letters, it was hardest out of them all. “W” was the hardest for them cause it is said as “Double U” so it was hard for the kids to say it. Finally finishing the alphabet we decided not to teach them the song because it was too hard for them to learn the end part so we decided to do a game. Even though to us the game was nice, easy and straight forward, but to the children it seemed like high school calculus. It was impossible to teach them. So everyone just started to dance in a circle, some of the kids were very talented in dancing, it was very entertaining. Next we made a Cho Cho Train. We gathered up all the kids and made them follow a leader they found it very fun and entertaining. As the saying says, time fly when we are having fun, it just seemed like a minute but our time with the kids were up. We said goodbye to the kids and headed back onto the boat.
Lunch was simple and good, we had ginger chicken with morning glory. We took a hour and a half to relax and 30 minutes before school started we set out to paint the school. The school looked quite old, the outside blue color of the school is starting to fade away. Since we didn’t have a lot of paint, we decided to only paint the windows and doors of the first school house . We split up into twos and set out to paint the 8 windows and 4 doors that the school had. A few of the windows didn’t have a wooden closing anymore, only the frame exist, so we painted that instead. The paint gave off a very bad gasoline smell making everyone put on masks. There wasn’t a lot of paint, so the paint ran out really fast. We managed to paint 5 windows and 2 door frames, it was a good accomplishment. But this wasn’t the end of our job for the afternoon, we had to teach the new children that came to the school. This time we had the 4th graders to teach, they knew a lot more and were much easier to teach then the 1st graders in the morning. We went over “What is your name?” and the answer “My name is __”. They seemed to already know that so we moved on to other things like the names of common animals that can be found; snakes, buffalo, chicken, fish and even butterfly. This was quite challenging for them to learn but we drew pictures of each animal on the board so they would know what they are. We then decided to teach them something conversational and taught them how to say “How are you” and respond saying “I am___” and in the blank we gave them different feels that they could use, happy, sad, hot and tired. We made them repeat what they repeat the question and the phrase multiply times so it will be easier for them to remember it.
When all this learning was finished, it was time for Bingo. They have never played Bingo so Mr. Thay had to explain it to them, it was quite a hard concept for them to understand. We told them to draw a 4×4 square on their books and in the squares draw out different items that we already drew on the board. This seems to be an easy task, but it wasn’t. The whole process took more then 45 minutes to complete. These children are too neat, they would use rulers to write out the letter “A”. Also sometimes everyone would be drawing out the same bingo board even though we told them not to do that. But finally we began to play, there were a lot of different prizes on the tables so who ever won can pick their prize. Everyone ended up with Bingo, so they all walked away with a prize.
It was 4 o’clock when we finished school, this might seem like the end of our day, but it wasn’t even close. We went back to the temple to continue painting the walls that we started. Also Lexi, Cory, Yi and Mr. Thay said they have a surprise for us at the temple. Nobody would have guessed what it was. After painting another wall at the temple the surprise was reveled. The monks at the temple were going to tell our fortune. They had a very special way of doing it. There are a lot of palm leaves and each has writing on them, then putting the stack of leaves on your head and using a stick to stick it in and which ever one it falls on would be your fortune. If you get a bad fortune you have another two tries to get a good one, but if after three tries the fortune is still bad then you would have a bad fortune. When it was my turn, the story went like this: ” You are working in a millionaire house, but one day the family tried to kill you but after many attempts they still couldn’t kill you. But then the son of the millionaire get murdered so the all the possession of the millionaire goes to you. This means that bad things would happen to you but you shall always get repaid for what you have done.” This was very relatable to my life right now so I shall remember what the monk had said to me.
It was finally time for dinner, since it isn’t that hot anymore we had dinner on the roof of the boat. It was going to be the real last meal we have on the boat. Yi cooked us a lot of good food, french fries, fried chicken, mama noodles with vegetables and two other dishes. It was the best dinner we had in days. With the sun setting in the distance and a light breeze flowing, it was a beautiful place to dine our last meal.
We went back to our home stay house and turned on the music on the boat, with the christmas lights it truly turned our boat into a party boat. We were dancing and rocking it out on the boat, but soon everyone got tired and just sat down and enjoyed the music. I was going to sleep on the boat today along with the other local staff, spending the last night on the boat would truly be amazing. But for now it is getting late theres a long day of traveling tomorrow for us to do so night.
(All cooked on the boat)
Mama Noodles with Vegetables
Beef with Vegetables