Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My First 4 hours of teaching

Wow, OMG this is certainly different.

I started at 4.30 pm in a room that gets the afternoon sun and the temperature was 36 degrees  to this we add 20 enthusiastic students who sit very close together and only one small wall fan.  I do not need to go to the gym for a sauna.

OK, to the teaching itself.  I have 3 levels, the very basic class which knows no English at all and speak very basic english.  I found this one the hardest as we have very little in common and my Khmer interpreter who was working with me, told me later that he had trouble translating what I was saying as I speak to fast. ME talk to fast,never!!!  In this class, we spent the time tracing the first 4 letters of the alphabet and the remainder of the time practicing phonetics.

I have 1 beginner 1 and I have 2 beginner 2's.  These students can all read and write English as they are taught it in their schools but taught by Khmer teachers and they have no idea on the punanciations and this is our main objective is to teach them punounciation and grammar structure.   Darn, my English teacher was right when  she said I would need to know this some day!!!   Wish I had listened now.

We are working from books that are very very European and although they are the best available they are totally inappropriate for what we are trying to teach.  One of the things I was to use as an example was going into a Cafe and ordering a sandwich.  Sure.

Well, it probably was one of the longest 4 hours I have spent for many years, by the end of the 4 hours I was stuffed and totally soaked.  Judy and I who are on the last sessions then went to a meeting and had our evening meal.  Did I enjoy it, yes absolutely.  The Khmer interpreters think I am funny, can't imagine why, must be because I kept poking my tounge out when I was trying to get them to try the sound 'th'.

I am about to sit down and make up 3 lesson plans for this afternoon.

I am good at putting things off so I will delay the lesson planning further by telling you about the other ladies.

Sandra is from Townsville and is a Scouting lady of long standing, she met Lyn when the were on the Scout world trip during 2007.  She is a ISA teacher's aid for handicapped children.  Sandra will be here for one term only and them will be replaced by her husband Ernie. Poor Ernie, surrounded by 5 ladies.

Ryllis, was a Scouting person but has just left the Movement, she is fromTassie.

Annette was in high end retail as her wardrobe shows, fantastic outfits, she has been here over a week now and is picking up Khmer very easily.

Judith lived in Darwin for a very short time as her husband was in the judisary but unfortunately passed away and she is finding it difficult with me talking about Darwin,

Sally is one of our youngsters, she is amazingly confident as she has done heaps of travelling and settling in to teaching extremely well,  The students love her.

Liz is our newest member of the team and she is going to live in one of the villiages which is about 30 minute drive from Seim Reap.  Mel has just has an extra added to a hut in the villiage and Liz will be living there with the help of a Khmer lad she will be teaching in the afternoon and probably helping the the local school in the morning.  Liz is also in her 20's.

As you can see we are a diverse group of ladies and of course there is Mel who is an absolute bundle of energy, here from 5.30am until 10pm, manages to look after her family and establish the school.  Yes, she is the size of a pencil.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Saturday 25th

It was decided that our first view of the ruins should at dawn so we set our alarms for 4am and  dragged out the stragglers for a 5am start to the ruins.  The trip to the ticket area was quick and some took out a day pass but 3 of us paid $65 US to have a seven visits over one month.  We then joined the throng of people travelling towards the ruins.  We were lucky as during an equinox the sun rises directly over the central tower of Angor Wat and we were there then.  Our first look at the ruins were that of pale pink dawn haze but we then had to wait for 50 minutes for the actual dawn.  The picture on the right shows the reflection of the towers in the lake.  Lovely.  Breakfast followed the sunrise and we then spent about 1 hour walking through the ruins.  It must have been fantastic in its hay day.

By the time we came out of the ruins and walked back to our vehicle it was 8.30 and stinking hot.  Not at all pleasant.

We then went on to Banteay Srei which was constructed in 967, there is not a lot of it left but well worth looking at.  Only problem is that it is hot!!We had been joined by then by our Khmer co-workers and they had not been to the ruins so it was interesting for them also.  They tried to tell me that the water was full of crocodiles but of course I was able to tell them that we in the Territory have them walking down our streets.  There will be a young Khmer working in the classroom with us if we get into any language problems, I think it should be OK as most of the people we have spoken to can read and write English but just have problems speaking it.
After we finished Iooking at the ruins we thankfully fell into our airconditioned car and went to look at our last one for the day.  It was the one where Angolie Whatever filmed the Tomb Raiders.

It was built from 1186 and was dedicated to the mother of Jayavarman VII.  It was truly swallowed by the jungle as there are trees growing right through the ruins and the trees are well over 200 years old.  It was a great ruins and we will certainly be going back to see it but in the cooler part of the day.


We were absolutely exhausted by the time we finished walking through the ruins and then through the swarm of hawkers to get back to the bus.  The trip home was good although our driver managed to run over a dog, which was not good although I am sure someone enjoyed the fresh meat for tea.
Talking about food, we have a lovely young lady who does our lunches and teas for us.  The main stay of the meals is of course rice but the extra dish is usually vegetables and more vegetables but I must admit for someone who hates vegetables I find that I quite enjoy the food especially now as there is always a second dish of food with chilies in it for me.

We look after ourselves on the weekend and unfortunately we have sandwiches but I am sure that we can work it that there is some rice left over.  On Sunday we are going out with all the staff to have a buffet tea which should be interesting. 

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday 24th

Yesterday we hired a Tuk Tuk driver and went straight to the phone shop and we all bought a $22 pre paid phone and a soft pillow as the pillows here are really hard.  We of course also found the local market and stocked up on grog.  I bought a 1 litre bottle of Gin for $8 and Sandra (Scouting lady) bought a bottle of local bourbon for $1.50 which is 34% proof and tastes good after the first full glass.

Food, is quite good except that it has no meat, lots of vegies and rice.  I am really happy now as every meal has a small bowl of chillies for me to share with the only other lady who likes 'hot'.

I had rice porridge this morning with salty eggs. 

We sat down together today to go through the text books, look at lesson plans and generally what is expected of us.  Wow.  It should be interesting as I have 4 classes, one with no English, next minimal and then 2 more a little better, the idea is that they come for 1 hour every day and at the end of the year, they should be up at the elementary level.  We have a young Khmer in our classroom to help translate in the earlier classes but late on  there is only English spoken.  We will have exams at the end of every term. 

Tomorrow is Saturday and we are going to leave here about 5 am to travel to our first temple and watch the sun rise over the ruins.  I am so looking forward to it, we will then come back and go through more training.

I have pictures which I am trying to upload.

First Impressions

23 Sept

Spent the night in the Transit Hotel in the Singapore Terminal which was very convienient but guess what as you don't go through imigration you don't get your luggage, it just ends up in the lost and found office untl you get it the next day.  Lucky mine was bright purple as it was very easy to find.

I let the hotel at 3am and set out on a 20 minute hike to the other end of the airport as the sky train does not start running until 6am and I was going to be in the air by then.  I had to leave the airport, go through immigration, get my back and then go back upstairs to check back in.  It was a great way to start the day.

The flight to Seim Reap was one & half hours and it was on route to Phnom Penh and was only half full.

Luggage weight was not a problem here, they just put it on the plane.  Most of the passengers did not have any luggage other than cabbin baggage.

The airport in Seim Reap is a very old looking building and your first view is a huge line of men sitting in a very long row all wearing fancy uniforms and looking very stern.  They have the job of processing your visa and then straight onto immigration who like all immigration people all over the work (think they all go to the sam immigation school) ignore you complete and spend the next two minutes banging the table with about six different stamps and then pass you back your passport and you can not find anywhere where they have stamped it. 

Mel picked me up from the airport and drove about 10 minutes into Seim Reap which after Saigon is a very quiet backwater.  Very little traffic, no honking of horns, no bikes or scooters full of families carring all of their live stock.

It is quite clean and we live almost in the centre of the city, down a dirt road,right next door to the night markets.  It is a fantastic spot, especially at night.

The six ladies I am living with are very nice, all Aussies and we are all over 45 with the exception of Sally who is in her late 20's.

We have a lovely lady who cooks lunch and dinner for us, a young man who is the administrator of the school and a young man who is the security guard.  All three are learning English and enjoy learning new Aussie expressions!!!

Before going to bed last night, I had to go to the markets of course and buy 2 new dresses.  The markets are the same as in Vietnam but the people are not quite as persistent. 

My room is quite nice and up the top of some very steep stairs, nice calf muscles coming out of the climbing.  The classroom that I am using is just outside my door and it should be interesting with 20 students going up and down the stairs every hour and another 20 students every hour down stairs in the front room which is also a classroom.

We have 240 students every day and Mel has another 200 on the waiting list.


My room

9/23/10by Jacana's Jottings