Volunteering to teach with UWS in Cambodia
An adventurous group of Kings students and staff recently returned from the trip of a lifetime, volunteering to teach children in one of Kings' charity partner schools in rural Cambodia. Leading the group was Kings Oxford senior teacher Sean Scatchard, who shares their reflections on the trip.
Our group, with three students from Kings Oxford — Chiara, Vicky and Kevin — plus Nicola Cranshaw, Kings Bournemouth's Academic Assistant Director of Studies, recently had the opportunity to accompany United World Schools to one of Kings' partner schools, in Kro Long, Cambodia.
The aim of United World Schools (UWS) is to 'teach the unreached', and that's certainly what it felt like! Sleeping in hammocks, washing with a bucket, and giving lessons in art, music and logic, plus drama and sport, there was never a dull moment.
When we returned from the trip, the students decided to give a presentation to everyone at Kings Oxford, to encourage others to get involved. Here's a quote of what each of them said about their experience and why they feel so passionate about supporting UWS.
"I had a wonderful and life-changing experience in Cambodia. We were constantly surrounded by an extremely friendly and welcoming community and discovered the amazing culture and people living there.
I couldn't be more grateful and delighted looking at the kids smiling and being happy to learn new skills every day. It was extremely fulfilling and exciting to get to know them despite the language barrier, which I thought would be a bigger issue than it was.
The UWS team made us feel so comfortable being so far away from home. I can say that being a part of this volunteering trip had a real and valuable positive impact in my life. Teaching these children was the best way to give me even more desire to contribute to their development on a large scale."
"The kids were so keen to learn. The school was supposed to open at seven in the morning but they were already there, waiting for us at five thirty. And in the afternoon school finished at three but they would still be there at six!
It was amazing to see their enthusiasm and I was so pleased to be able to help them. I hope we can all contribute to making sure they have a good future."
"While in Kro Lorng there was a constant feeling of happiness. At the time I didn't understand why I felt so, but once back I realized it was a feeling that came from helping others and making myself useful.
Those children really want to learn and even the simplest everyday skills we've taught them were life-changing. This feeling of happiness is something that I am going to try to keep seeking, back in the United Kingdom and in Italy too, trying to contribute to their education from a distance."
As group leader, I was amazed by the sheer energy and resourcefulness of our students. They were so enthusiastic that at times it seemed like they'd got the whole of Kro Long village dancing! Everyone at Kings is really proud of them — they were just fantastic ambassadors for what Kings is all about.
Equally, I found it really fulfilling to see such keen, happy Cambodian children so eager to learn. Education is the key to a better world for these people, so it's great to see them really making the most of it. Without our support none of this would be possible and those same children would be working in the fields.
Nicola had this to say:
"It was a complete joy to accompany the three students Chiara, Kevin and Vicky on this trip to visit our school in rural Kro Long. I have never witnessed such commitment and such a degree of willingness from students. They contributed to this project wholeheartedly; demonstrating maturity and a level of capability they can be proud of for the rest of their lives.
Both Sean and I were amazed to see how teaching in the village came so naturally and was a rewarding experience for them. In the role of young teachers, they made a huge impact on the lives of the children and this was felt and made clear to us when we heard such excitement from them as they arrived to school at 5.30am on our last day!
I am sure the Kro Long children will never forget this project and I will always feel grateful to have shared the experience with three incredible students... and one incredible teacher of course!"
In every aspect, this was one of those experiences that really reassures you of the warmth of the human spirit and the possibilities we have to make things better.