This year eighteen students along with four staff members from The Overlake School traveled to Pailin, Cambodia for two weeks. Biannually since 2006 students from The Overlake School in Redmond, Washington have been travelling to our sister school in Pailin to maintain and strengthen the partnership that was created in the wake of 9/11. While in Cambodia, our aim is to bring supplies, improve the facility, and share in a cultural exchange by teaching the Cambodian children.
Throughout our time in Cambodia, we had the opportunity to not only interact with the students at the school, but we were able to learn about the Cambodian culture by interacting with the community as a whole. On our first day at the school, the students (kindergarten through sixth grade) were all eagerly lined up to welcome us to their school. However, there were some older high school students there as well. Those students attended Overlake for elementary school and decided to come visit when they heard that we would be there. They stayed to help us write all the students nametags with their Khmer names as well as a phonetic English spelling. At first, when we all went to our classrooms to teach, we were nervous and unsure how we were going to teach students who spoke a completely foreign language to us. But in no time at all, we were all able to interact with the kids and get them to participate. It was truly amazing to see how eager these students are to learn, and how smart they are. By the second or third day, we were teaching third and fourth graders exponential equations! Although we were not the only ones teaching; when we taught the children something in English, they would tell us the Khmer way to say it and would not stop until we had mastered the pronunciation. In addition to the traditional classroom setting, the students and teachers taught us traditional Cambodian games and dances, so in return, we broke out our best dance moves to teach them as well. Despite the significant language barrier, we were all able to bond and connect with the Cambodian students.
We have much more to share about our time in Cambodia and would love to be able to share our experiences with the community. We will be hosting a banquet at The Overlake school at 6:00 pm on May 17th. We would like to encourage anyone interested in global service, Cambodian culture, or out story to join us on the 17th. Tickets are sold to the public in the form of shares, which include small gifts as well as a seat at the banquet itself. Thank you so much for your support and we hope to see you there!