This Christmas vacation, I had a chance to go to Cambodia on a missions trip through New Hope for Orphans. I taught Korean classes for a week, and my team mates taught English classes in a rural orphanage in Kompong Cham, Cambodia.
I didn’t know what to expect at the orphanage in terms of teaching. I assumed the students would all be beginners.
However, I found out they had been learning Korean for a few months and could actually read and write a little. My lessons that I made went out the window. I taught two one hour Korean classes a day, which honestly doesn’t sound like a lot. I mean I was used to teaching from 8:10 to 3:30pm everyday here in Korea. However, when you only have a dry erase board, markers and very limited resources, it can get very long!
The first day, around 5:30pm, the room I taught in started getting dark as the sun went down early in Cambodia. Eventually they would turn on the generator and one light bulb would try to light up the entire room. I still had trouble seeing clearly, as my eyes weren’t used to the darkness.
I started running out of things to teach during that first hour and I even I tried to end class early, but my Cambodian teacher and translator, kept telling me to go on! I scrambled through the old photocopied Korean workbook he had and found more things to teach. After that first night, I realized I needed to plan much more for those one hour sessions. I couldn’t just wing it.
The second day, I played bingo with them. I was teaching them numbers in Korean and I had them make their own bingo sheets in their notebooks. They loved the simple game. The next day, a few of the kids from the village came early and I saw them sitting on a gazebo like swing. I asked them what they were doing, and they were playing “bingo” with each other!
By the end of the week, I had a number of different fun things I did with them. I taught and played games like pictionary and bingo. I also taught them some origami and had them introduce themselves in Korean. The hour didn’t seem as long.
Now that I’m back in my classroom here in Korea, I do miss my Cambodian students a lot. I’m also really thankful that I have lights that I can turn on and off when I want.