The workshop “School is Cool” is the key element of our volunteer-project. That is, what we all have come for. The goal is to teach children skills they are not taught in their everyday classes, such as drawing, singing, theatre, friends’ bracelets, sewing, playing games and a doing sports like ball games, frisbee and dancing. The mission is to prove them that education is fun. The students are from 4 to 13 years old since older children would be already married and out of reach. Girls empowerment gets high priority with UWS. Sitha, the UWS country manager of Cambodia explained, after ten years of UWS education they notice fewer girls are getting married young.
By the way, children of educated mothers are 50 percent more likely to reach the age of five years and older. And girls tend to receive less education due to cultural reasons. In Cambodia only 26 percent of girls reach secondary school.
That is why we become so happy if mothers come to watch our classes or even join in dancing. We always offer extra skills for them. This time they enjoyed sewing flowers out of cloths or making bracelets out of plastic bags. Both mothers and children enjoyed it and at the same time it was informative.
Our workshops follow a standard scheme given by UWS. A workshop is always run in teams of two in different fields like ART, MUSIC, INDIVIDUAL LOGIC, GROUP LOGIC. In the morning you teach four groups of children divided according to their age, each group spends 45 minutes in the workshop. That means that you teach each group three times within your stay of three days. The UWS guidebook for volunteers informs the participants about how to get prepared and gives ideas on successful teaching. ConCultures volunteers get prep time within the first program block, being assisted and trained by ConCultures. The concepts need to contain ideas that seek achieving a certain self-defined goal. Everyone has to check “Am I teaching? Are the children learning?
The afternoon program starts at 2.30pm with storytelling in Khmer by the UWS staff followed by a theatre with two teams on the stage. First performance is done by the Volunteers. The second team on the stage is the UWS children copying our performance. The students usually have so much fun and the actors feel so proud. Singing songs is always the final task for every morning and evening program. Tune, easy song texts and easy dancing-patterns work fine. At the end of the three-day singing the songs gives us all a real blast.
Our accommodation is at the schools. We sleep in hammocks in the classrooms. Our bath is an open-air tube with fresh water, and everyone seems to be fine with it, evaluating comfort and luxury at home differently.