Hello! My name is Hien and I’m from Vietnam. I graduated from college a while ago and worked in several administration and finance positions in Vietnam. I came to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in April 2017 with the purpose of finding a job or a volunteer position in a non-profit setting to help the community as much as I could and to understand more about life there. I met teacher John at PIO in May and started to teach English to Grade 3B and Mathematics to kindergarten girls and boys.
Teaching English to young students was so much fun, but also quite challenging. As I could speak only English to the students and everyone else, I sometimes had difficulty getting my students to understand me. However, my Khmer teacher at PIO was always very willing to help me translate the words into Khmer and explain things to the students to get them as engaged as possible. Teacher John was also extremely helpful. He frequently discussed the best teaching methods with me so that I could make the content of my lesson plans better and more relevant to the Khmer life. Sometimes I had my students sing simple English songs and they really enjoyed the activity!
One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned after 15 weeks of volunteer work at PIO is to always be patient and smile a lot. No matter how hard life can be in Cambodia, everyone is always friendly, always smiling. My volunteer coworkers came from many countries such as France, Canada, Hong Kong, China, Japan, the UK, the USA, and they were the most giving and dedicated people I ever met in my life. One volunteer from France, whom I greatly admired for her courage and generosity, even held a big party to celebrate the birthdays of all PIO shelter kids who didn’t have their families with them in Phnom Penh.
My hopes and dreams for the young students at PIO are that they will continue to receive the great care and support from PIO and JustWorld and that they will grow up to have good careers and lives for themselves and their family members. I hope more people like us will be interested in finding ways to alleviate poverty and improve the living conditions of people in third world countries because it’s very sad to see many young children, who supposedly are the future of this planet Earth, have to live in poverty with much fewer resources and opportunities than their wealthier counterparts.