Our First Volunteer – Liam Horniblow

My experience teaching in Siem Reap, Cambodia at Svaychey Village

In December 2015, just prior to Christmas, I was provided with the wonderful opportunity to head to Svaychey Village which is approximately 20km east of Siem Reap Cambodia to teach English to 160 students from age 5 to 18.

I was both very excited and also nervous. This was the first time I had ever been in another country for a period longer than a couple of weeks. At first it was very overwhelming, to witness a village where the way of living was very different to what I was used to in Australia. It took me a week to settle in to living in the village but after a week this different lifestyle became much easier.

Settling in to Village Life

Home stay at the village gave me a wonderful insight into how the locals live and allowed me to create some wonderful friendships with the adults and children of the village. I have to say that living in the actual village was tremendously helpful as it allowed me to feel a part of the community and it assisted greatly in my teaching and understanding of the students. The locals in the village were extremely friendly which also made it very easy for me to settle in. Also, I cannot speak more highly of the family that have been providing me with wonderful support by way of daily meals and general advice and friendship when I’ve needed it.

The Village is like my second home, even though there have been times when the cultural and language barrier has been challenging, I have been able to adapt to this wonderful way of life as it builds character and confidence for me personally.

The school at the village is also amazing and this is a credit to the fine work that has been done by Zeynep and the Step2Foundation.

My first day teaching at the school was extremely enjoyable and has remained like that since I started. The students are simply amazing and continue to surprise me with their understanding and speed of learning. They really value the importance of learning English and always try very hard to improve every day. The English teacher Sok has been a fantastic support to me and also to the students.

The Rewards of Volunteer Teaching

Since I arrived 2 months ago I have seen a significant improvement in all of the students and the teacher Sok. He is extremely important to the school and without him the kids would be unable to learn English. Sok has shown a major interest in improving his English for the benefit of the children and I believe we have worked really well together. I am so grateful for all his help and feel confident that he has also gained a better understanding of English from my own teaching. The school has students ranging from kindergarten to year 12 and operates from 8:00am to 7:00pm at night.

For me personally, this has been a life changing event that has provided me with an appreciation for the many cultural differences that exist between Cambodia and Australia. Not only have I taught them but they have also taught me a lot about teaching and many other life lessons I will take with me forever.

I strongly recommended this experience to anyone that wants to be a part of an extremely unique cultural experience and to teach English to students that would be extremely grateful and kind in return.

I can be contacted via email: lhornibl@deakin.edu.au should you have any questions on this amazing life experience.

Interested in volunteering with the Step2Foundation?

Contact the Step2Foundation or Volunteer Abroad directly to find out more.