What made you decide to come to ISF?
I first found out about ISF through family friends. Everything I heard made it seem to be a fantastic organization. Later I was looking for a place to volunteer for the spring and found out there was an opening. It sounded like quite an adventure while also providing me a great opportunity to help a good cause. So you can imagine I was quite delighted when I found out I accepted for the position.
What did you do at ISF?
I worked in the English department of ISF as a Teaching Assistant Volunteer. This position allowed me to go and teach kids a variety of ages and levels. I also was lucky enough to work with every teacher in the department and learn from all of them. As someone who is very much interested in becoming a teacher, I learned so many valuable skills in each classroom.
What has been the most surprising part of your experience here?
It is hard to pinpoint for me what was the most surprising. I think how positive the kids were. For what they have to deal with in their daily lives outside of school and to still be able to come in everyday with a beaming smile is so fantastic. You see in the pictures but it is absolutely the same in person.
How do you think the volunteer programme is helping the students?
It starts forcing the students to speak English. They know that if they want to communicate to me they certainly cannot speak Khmer! Secondly it helps them focus on their pronunciation; they can hear from a native and correct common mistakes that a lot of the students make. Thirdly I think they are genuinely interested in anyone foreign coming to their schools as I am in them.
What was your biggest challenge here?
Communicating with the students. I said before it helped challenge the students; it also challenged me. I had to learn how to use gesturing, simpler sentences, the whiteboard, and so on to get my points across. I learned to try to teach from different approaches and how to simplify things. I am certainly far from perfect now but I feel as though I am constantly improving.
What will you remember most about your time at ISF?
All of the hundreds and thousands of pleasant interactions I have had with the staff and kids here. The staff here and especially the English Department have been fantastic with me. They have made it so, so easy for me. They have helped guide me through my six months here in Cambodia, teaching me all about it. The kids have just been so pleasant and I really will miss them when I leave. I will miss everyone here. They have all helped me grow as a person and I certainly will want to come back and see them again after I leave.
A big thanks to Alex and fellow volunteers Bobby, Peter and Sam for their amazing effort and work during the past few months! We’re always looking for new volunteers, so if you or someone you know might be interested, get in touch!