About Cambodia

The Global Volunteer Network currently has opportunities to teach conversational English through our partner organization in Cambodia. This will allow you to help students improve their English skills while at the same time immersing yourself in urban Cambodian life.

Volunteers will be working as language teachers in a school project which provides affordable conversational English language courses for students. The aim of this project is to raise money for a local NGO working to improve livelihoods in rural communities in Cambodia. Students pay a small fee to attend the classes. In the past, the money raised by the language centre has been used to improve water and sanitation, for small livestock and agriculture production and for community environmental awareness in rural Cambodia.

Volunteers teach conversational English classes which have around 10 students in each class. All students and teachers have books, from which to learn and teach. There is scope for volunteers to include their own exercises/games into each class. Most volunteers work up to 5 hours per day. Lesson plans and materials will be provided by the school to make preparation and teaching easier.

To learn more, please visit the Global Volunteer Network Cambodia program page.

Recent Cambodia Journals:

Three weeks and counting!

 Posted by Brooke Hallam at 6:03 pm  Cambodia  Comments Off on Three weeks and counting!
May 042009
 

Wow, I can’t believe that at this time in three weeks I will be packing up my stuff and getting ready to head to the airport….. 21 sleeps until the adventure begins.  It’s probably even harder to imagine because I am still sitting at work in a nice warm office with all the creature comforts at my disposal!!  Of course it’s also a little stressful, the fear of the unknown and all that, particularly the thought of the huge bloody spiders that live there, the lack of hot water and the fact that even with royal grade security Princess Eugenie could still get robbed – I am good at getting robbed too, it’s one of my many talents!  One good thought about moving to Cambodia is that my liver should have a chance to recuperate after the past two weeks (and probably the future three weeks) of farewell parties that have been going on!  Another good thought is the visions I have of the Cambodia diet that is going to see me return all supermodel like – oh please let it be more successful than other diets I have tried in the past!  Each night I find myself going to bed trying to picture what it’s going to be like and I’m sure that when I get there it will be completely different to all I have imagined.  It will also be completely different from my current lifestyle working at Flight Centre and living in the barbie dream house!!  I’ve had my inoculations and have written my shopping list of things to buy before I go, I’m sure the next three weeks will drag and fly all at the same time….. but for now I’ll just keep dreaming about those size 10 jeans I’ll be wearing when I return in October!!!!

Welcome to Paradise

 Posted by Karin Holzknecht at 11:20 pm  Cambodia  Comments Off on Welcome to Paradise
Oct 282008
 

In talking with/writing to friends and relatives back home I have compared Sihanoukville to Queensland Australia’s Gold Coast, but actually I think it is more akin to Byron Bay in New South Wales. It has the same bohemian vibe. One long weekend, six of us volunteers headed down to Sihanoukville check out the beach scene. Our volunteer coordinator sorted out tickets to get us there. It is a bus ride of about four or maybe five hours, which seemed longer because the buses here invariably have some very loud Khmer music videos and stand-up comedians on the TV, which gets a bit wearing after a while, and the seats are never comfortable. Once we arrived we bought tickets for the trip back and grabbed a tuk tuk to Serendipity Beach, which is the main backpacker hang-out in Sihanoukville. There are actually three main beaches, but we didn’t manage to get to the others. I would definitely recommend Serendipity: the guesthouses are right on the beach, with outside seating spreading out onto the sand, and a room in any one of these is an extremely reasonable price. Our guesthouse had a bar looking right out across the bay to the islands in the distance – so amazingly beautiful. At night they let off fireworks all along the beach, they fire up the barbecues for that authentic beach feel, and some of the places have comfy couches right there on the sand, looking out into the pulsing black sea and the stars. I kept feeling like I was stuck in a “wish you were here” postcard the whole weekend.  

That first night most of us headed across town a bit to a restaurant called “The Snake House” which was a guesthouse that also had a reptile display. This was a fairly upper-class establishment with very reasonable prices, and the restaurant has a huge, open fish tank in the middle of the eating area, where you can watch the fish and look at coral. While you’re waiting for your meal you can wander around and look at all the different snakes and lizards. They had some really spectacular iguanas! After that relaxing first night we parted company and the next morning a few of us headed across to Bamboo Island (Koh Russei) for a night. One of the other volunteers had recommended it as being worth a visit and I for one was absolutely blown away. 

First of all, to board the boat we had to wade waist-deep into the sea and climb up a little ladder (the water was perfect so it was a lovely novelty). Thankfully a man from the boat transferred our backpacks from the beach to the boat on his head, because knowing me I would have accidentally dropped mine in the first wave! The boat itself was a long fishing boat with an outboard motor, and a canopy over some long bench seats. The trip there was fine – I usually get seasick, but the breeze in my face was just so delicious and everything was so interesting I didn’t have time to think about it. I can’t say the same for the golden Labrador that was one of our fellow passengers. I’ve never seen a dog look so sick! It got sicker and sicker as the trip went on, until it was lying on the bottom of the boat with its tongue sticking out and its eyes closed. It perked up very quickly when we weighed anchor at the island though. And wow! What an island! The beach so clean and white, the water so blue and clear, the island itself so green and lush… we immediately went to the first eating hut and booked a bungalow for the night. It was a few doors down, right on the beach, and very simple – but who needs more than a place to lie down and a mosquito net over your head at night? We swam to our hearts’ content – sometimes in the rain, which was unforgettably delicious – and read books, drank fruit shakes, played cards and generally relaxed.  

The next morning we got up early to watch the sunrise and do some yoga on the beach. The sand was cool under my feet and the air was fresh. It was like something out of a daydream. I laughed to myself at the end while doing savasana (the final relaxation pose) because usually I have to imagine I’m lying on a tropical beach with the sound of waves in my ears and the sun on my face!  Afterwards we went for a dip and the rest of the day was spent pretty well in the same way as the first. One major difference – if you do ever end up heading to Bamboo Island, make sure you take the trail across the island to the other beach. You walk up this green, semi-beaten path, past the wooden stilt-huts of the villagers decorated with strings of shells hanging from the verandahs, past chickens roaming free and cows in their fields, through a patch of jungle, until the trees clear away and you see the other beach spreading out before you. This one has really good waves for body-surfing, and an equally lovely eating hut where we hung out playing 500 and chatting. Then we headed back to catch our boat to Sihanoukville again. The trip this time was not quite as tranquil and I had to work hard to concentrate on the land and the sights instead of the rocking of the boat. Lucky I was because I saw a sea eagle snatch a fish right out of the sea! We were pretty glad to get back to the guesthouse at the end of the trip though, and have a nice warm shower. When you’re sharing rooms you can get pretty classy accommodation for not very much a night! 

The rest of the trip passed pretty uneventfully until halfway through the bus-trip on the way back to Phnom Penh when something fell out of the bottom of the bus with a clunk. After a brief stop the bus kept driving but it soon became evident from the pungent fumes that something needed a decent looking at. We all got off the bus and it drove off towards Phnom Penh without us. We felt a little bereft, especially because no one had explained anything to us about what was happening next. We just followed everyone else trudging towards Phnom Penh, calculating in a half-laughing manner how long it would take us to walk back to the city as we passed each road marker marking down each kilometre we walked. 92, 91, 90, 89… one of the volunteers struck up a conversation with a few different passengers who spoke a bit of English, and was given the impression that the bus would come back eventually. It was certainly a peaceful way to see the countryside, and I was glad for a chance to stretch my legs. Kilometres passed and we ended up hopping into a mini-van that pulled up, soliciting passengers. We hadn’t gone far with this driver when we came into a fairly large town and spotted our bus at a garage. So the Khmer guy travelling with us, one of the men we spoke to on our trek and our self-nominated translator, got the driver to stop and went to see what was happening. Well, the bus had just finished being fixed, so we all piled out of the mini-van and back onto the bus. The bus went back to pick up stragglers, pulled a crazy u-turn on the fairly narrow road, and a few hours later reached Phnom Penh: home sweet home.

Packing for Cambodia: clothes

 Posted by Karin Holzknecht at 5:05 pm  Cambodia  Comments Off on Packing for Cambodia: clothes
Oct 252008
 

This was my biggest worry when packing for Cambodia – what on earth should I take to wear?! Here are my tips. Don’t bother bringing a jumper unless you need one for the plane. Don’t bother bringing more than two pairs of socks – thongs (by that I mean flip-flops) and sandals are the order of the day here. It’s worth bringing some sneakers but I wouldn’t worry about dress shoes. I know this isn’t clothing but don’t bring a sleeping bag or a mosquito net! You don’t need them. Do bring swimmers/bathers/togs/swimsuit/boardies – whatever you call them! One of the guys here recommends bringing long pants – most men here wear them. Otherwise I recommend shorts and skirts for the girls. Make sure most of these come below the knees so you can wear them in the classroom. Also bring t-shirts that cover your shoulders and aren’t too low-cut so you can wear them to school. Singlets and shorter shorts and skirts are fine for around the city and around the house. The more cotton the better – and try to avoid bringing dark clothing because it attracts mosquitos like nothing else.

Having said this, if you are particularly attached to any item of clothing, I wouldn’t bring it. It won’t last more than a month what with all the sweat, dirt, suncream and insect repellent. There is a washing machine in the house but some things will become dirty beyond redemption. Clothing is cheap here so it might be better just to budget for buying clothes and not bother bringing many with you. It is difficult to find singlets here so bring some of those. Another of the volunteers is currently craving wearing high heels and dressing up – and it might be worth bringing along something smarter for a classy night out if you have room. Raincoats and hats are also good things to pack. I think that’s about it!

Packing for Cambodia: essential items

 Posted by Karin Holzknecht at 4:40 pm  Cambodia  Comments Off on Packing for Cambodia: essential items
Oct 252008
 

For those of you who are considering volunteering in Cambodia, I have set about polling the volunteers here in the house to give  you an idea of what is essential packing and what you can probably give a miss. Having said this, please be aware that most things you can buy here and probably cheaper. Here are a few special mentions first: Insect repellent – don’t leave home without it. You can apparently buy it here but I don’t trust it so much. Get something that is at least 30% DEET but watch the strength if you have sensitive skin and avoid putting it anywhere near your face! The mosquitos mostly go for your legs anyway. DEET is a carcinogen so its best not to use stuff that is extremely potent. Rehydration salts – these are especially useful. Don’t buy them before you leave though because you can buy them here for much much cheaper, and I have it on good authority that they work very well. When you get to Phnom Penh just head to U-Care Pharmacy (ask for directions from the staff here) and stock up. Travel books – don’t bother buying one. If you want to clue yourself up before you come, rent one from the library. Once you get here there are three or four here in the volunteer house to refer to, and you can buy copies in the markets for very cheap. For smokers: don’t buy cigarettes from duty-free shops. They are cheaper in Cambodia. For coffee-lovers/tea-lovers: beware. Bring your own. Girls – if you wax, bring your own strips or bring an epilator. You can’t be guaranteed of getting a good wax here. Also, if you use tampons, I would advise bringing some with you. They are expensive here and only sold in [click here to read more]

Teaching: the joys and the complete misunderstandings

 Posted by Karin Holzknecht at 10:14 pm  Cambodia  Comments Off on Teaching: the joys and the complete misunderstandings
Oct 172008
 

We’re past the half-way mark of the teaching term now so I feel like I have sufficient experience to talk about the classroom side of volunteering here in Cambodia. During the orientation week, we had a brief introduction from some previous volunteers and other local English teachers as to classroom techniques, some practical activities to use, and also a more general idea of what to expect from our students. Everyone in the house was a bit nervous the night before our first day of lessons, but without exception we had generally good first days. After two or three days of teaching I already felt like an old hand. The students themselves help you tremendously. They are as a rule very friendly and very ready to learn. Your students will be curious about you and what you do and where you come from, and will almost invariably call you “teacher”, which they shorten to “cha”. You get so used to it that you’ll be responding to “teacher” when a student spots you on the street and calls out to you. Students will also be keen to tell you about Cambodia and its customs and recommend places to see and foods to eat. Paradoxical as it is, you learn a whole lot more from teaching than you actually teach!   The average teaching day with eleven volunteers in the house is four one-hour lessons and a back-up lesson. If you are back-up you are “on call” if someone is sick or unable to teach for any reason. We have also just started helping out the school by doing new student testing during our back-up lesson. Testing new students is not at all hard and even good fun. The students are divided into levels 1 – 8, as well as some Advanced Discussion and [click here to read more]

A few words on animals

 Posted by Karin Holzknecht at 9:49 pm  Cambodia  Comments Off on A few words on animals
Oct 172008
 

One of the stand-out differences for me living over here has been the animals. Even dogs and cats are so different from what I’m used to seeing at home. And when you see a cow here in Cambodia you know you’re not, to use a well-known phrase, in Kansas anymore! The first thing I noticed in terms of animals here in Phnom Penh is that dogs are everywhere. Who knows if they have owners or not – but they are on every street: black scruffy ones, grey woolly ones, brown skinny ones, white yappy ones; mutts of every kind and variation imaginable. They roam freely and you can often hear them barking, but I have yet to hear of any one being bitten by them. They are simply part of the street furniture, and finding a street minus dog poo is a rare treasure! There is one dog in particular I want to tell you about. I have no idea what breed he is or what his name is but we early-morning teachers see him just about every day as we walk to school. He is grey with very strong, long, white whiskers at the front of his muzzle like a grizzled moustache. He has a stocky build, legs short in proportion to his body. A few houses down from the school there is a building site, which has great pile of sand out front edging onto the road, and this is his castle. He lies on top of this pile of sand, staring out at the world with a weary yet determined expression. That’s an old man dog. You can’t get any doggier than that dog right there. He’s seen everything, he’s done everything, he knows everything there is to know about being a dog. He’s quintessential.  From dogs [click here to read more]

Living in Phnom Penh

 Posted by Karin Holzknecht at 7:53 pm  Cambodia  Comments Off on Living in Phnom Penh
Sep 142008
 

I’ve been in Cambodia for three weeks now and those weeks have been action-packed! For the past few days we have been having so much rain. Every night I can watch the lightening splash around the clouds, and sometimes the downpours are so heavy the street outside our door floods. The porch roof of the volunteer house is tin and sometimes the drumming of water-drops is so loud it interrupts your conversation and you need to speak up. For a South Australian this is all very exciting and jealous-making.  I’m really enjoying living in the volunteer house here in Phnom Penh. It’s like being back at boarding college in lots of ways. There are eleven of us volunteers staying here and we all get along well. About an hour ago we even had a yoga lesson from one of the volunteers! The house itself is quite luxurious – there is a wide front enclosed verandah that leads in to the tiled living area. On this ground floor there is also the kitchen, the laundry, and a TV room with a large collection of DVDs, which are very cheap and easy to pick up at the Russian Market (Toul Tum Pong) not far from the house. The next floor up is bedrooms – all bedrooms have ensuite bathrooms with Western-style toilets, and most volunteers share a bedroom with another volunteer. There is no hot water in the shower but you honestly don’t need it. The top floor is bedrooms too, and access to the roof. The roof is a beautiful place to hang out… it all makes you feel very lucky and very rich!  The volunteer house itself is very conveniently placed less than five minutes walk from the CWF school, about five minutes walk to a couple different internet cafés, and about ten [click here to read more]

Visit to Kratie

 Posted by Karin Holzknecht at 7:43 pm  Cambodia  Comments Off on Visit to Kratie
Sep 142008
 

During the orientation week the volunteers all went by bus up to Kratie-town in Kratie province. This was a trip of six hours or so, and very far out of Phnom Penh. We went to visit the organization our school supports, the Cambodian Rural Development Team (CRDT), and to see their projects in action in local rural villages. A 45 minute mini-bus ride and a short boat ride later we were on an island in the middle of the Mekong River, meeting villagers and seeing the ways CRDT provides support to them. Most significantly they had encouraged the use of fish-ponds and frog ponds as a renewable source of food, and also installed bio-digesters in some homes. Bio-digesters are a great invention – they turn animal manure (and most villagers have a cow or oxen or chickens or a pig) into gas that can be used in the house to cook on and to power lights with. A few cowpats in the morning will last one house a whole 24-hour day. The frog pond we saw was entertaining to sit and watch – it was more like a frog enclosure, and there were so many in there hopping about.   How to describe the village? Everything is so green – the villagers had planted large areas out with rice-paddies – and the dirt road going through the village is in very good repair. The different houses are spaced along this main road. The houses are all wood and on stilts and have slat-flooring with small gaps between to encourage airflow. One house had bamboo slats as flooring, which felt a bit unsafe for us heavy Westerners! Cambodians are a very narrow people. Beneath the main house in the area left clear by the stilts there are hammocks to rest in [click here to read more]

10 sleeps to go…

 Posted by Karin Holzknecht at 11:42 am  Cambodia  Comments Off on 10 sleeps to go…
Aug 152008
 

…and counting. I am not ready, but in my experience it will all come together in the end. It always does. Armed with mosquito net, insect repellent, teaching books and a camera I am fully prepared to go forth and have an adventure! A question I am often asked by my friends and relatives (and other people I gush to about my upcoming trip) is “why Cambodia?” Well, the truth is, I have no idea what prompted me to sign up for this trip. I was just looking around for a volunteer opportunity and when I saw this listing for Cambodia something clicked and I thought: “that’s it. That’s where I’m going.” It just seemed to fit with what I was looking for – an opportunity to give of my skills to a country and a people who could really benefit from them, just as I will undoubtedly benefit from my experiences. Now that I’ve researched a bit more about Cambodia I am really excited to be going there and experiencing their unique culture, learning more about their mysterious and incredible history, and sharing stories with the people there. I have a sneaking suspicion that no matter how much I attempt to give in this volunteer experience, I will always be getting more back than I can possibly equal.

Conversations with Foreigners-

 Posted by Joseph Allen at 10:56 am  Cambodia  Comments Off on Conversations with Foreigners-
Jul 022008
 

It’s getting a little to think up what to include for my journal entries, but there is still a lot. Teaching At the school there are 9 levels that students can be assigned to. I’m assigned to levels 4, 5, and 7. The texts we are using are in American English and it’s interesting other English speakers will spell certain words differently. While teaching for the most part is going well, it really is difficult to get motivated and plan for some of the irrelevant/uninteresting topics. As we do have some flexibility in teaching, I decided to take the liberty and skip to the section in level 7 on vacations, and had the students give me some ideas for the one week vacation coming up this month. We handed out a questionnaire to the students this week asking about the teaching and the program in general. We should get their feedback by the end of the week, which I’m looking forward to. Volunteering notes So just when I said the perpetual sweating went away it’s beginning to make a slight comeback. For those staying at the volunteer house, if you’re wondering how much money to bring, first take into account the following: visa costs are around $100.00 US, if you want a cell phone you’re looking at $45 and up, and the trip to Karachi Province about is $50. Also add in any money for your planned purchases (whatever you know you need but decide you will be buying once you get to Cambodia), and for any vacation time. Weekly costs for me are around $20.00 US. Those that like to make the most of their weekends will spend a little more. The currency of Cambodia is called the Riel, but the US dollar is accepted just about everywhere. The [click here to read more]

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