Things look different when you change perspective

It is Friday afternoon, the conversation class is about to start. The older students of Alysha Chan School are gathered in front of the school building firing questions at me. Many of them came by bicycle from the surrounding villages to take part in our free English classes. Sam-Bo stands a little bit aloof from the rest, looking shy but also curious.  For new students like him, classes at our school are a profound change. Sam-Bo doesn’t have to jump up from his seat, when I speak to him. He is also not used to interactive conversations and discussions during classes. Today we are talking about drinking water. Sam-Bo and the others are listening intensely. They are confronted with questions, which never occurred to them before.

Anke Treuter, Würzburg.

Sorya offers classes for students of every age.
Why do children of Cambodian rice farmers need to study English? In fact, they don’t – Sorya just offers the opportunity to learn more about the world, and to acquire skills which might be useful for them and their country. English is the least one of them, but getting in touch with those strange long-nosed people from western countries, there is a lot to discover. Even though they can’t plant rice, they know how to use computers and talk to Italian and Danish people as if it were nothing. They see many things with different eyes and speak about them. Since the Cambodian point of view is just as exciting for us, English is a good medium for an exchange of thoughts.

The topics of lessons  as well as the way of teaching are new for our students. Together, we visited the sites of terror – and discovered similarities between German and Cambodian history. We discussed why we are travelling on planes while they have to take rattly busses to go from one place to another. The books of our library are the first ones that our students read apart from school books. Trying to find a better way of approaching topics concerning society and lifestyle, we established conversation- and reading classes in which participation and opinions of our students are essential.

For the future we are planning other excursions and theme days, so students will have the opportunity to approach topics from different perspectives and in several languages. For these intensive classes, we intend to provide our school with additional equipement.

Classes take place at several schools – and sometimes also during field trips.
At this stage our teachers also give classes at schools in the neighbouring villages – which we want to promote further. Though, it is our prior objective to build and run new schools. Cambodia is still in need of many places where education and formation help its people to open windows to the world. As regards contents, we are planning to expand our field of activities by getting involved in adult education and vocational training.

A silk weaving centre will serve as a forum where we are going to combine Cambodian silk with European ideas of design, in order to impart knowledge and to open up new markets to silk weavers in the neighbourhood.

Our teachers never stopped learning. They constantly broaden their knowledge in computer courses, on advanced trainings and during teacher training. Due to their continous contact with people from different parts of the world, our teachers get the chance of improving their skills even further.

Some of the students come to our school because they wish to study at university some day. Others just study for fun. Maybe they are going to sing English songs during the next rice harvest. Some have such great talent that they already work as teachers for our organisation. Education and formation will open the door to the world a little bit wider to all of them. It could well be that they are going to teach us one day in Germany how to plant rice.