Volunteer Review: Katie B., Teach English and Other Subjects in Cambodia
When I first arrived in Phnom Penh airport I was kindly greeted by a Projects Abroad staff member who made me feel very comfortable; he gave me an emergency card with all the useful phone numbers and addresses then took me to the apartment I would be staying in.
The apartments are much nicer than what you would expect for a developing country. I felt they were spacious and very clean. The cooks prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner which is a westernized version of Cambodian food. I really enjoyed it! Generally it was a lot of chicken, rice, noodles and fresh fruit. Cambodian food is not for a weak stomach, as chicken feet and cooked undeveloped baby chicken and insects are very common.
I can say that I have tried some bugs from the market. My top tip would be to try spider legs, which is surprisingly crunchy and has a BBQ flavor (strange as that may sounds). Good luck with the beetle I still don't know if you are supposed to eat through the hard shell!
Teaching in Phnom Penh
For six weeks I was working at the VDTO Bamboo Shoot School. I have never taught English before and after a few days I felt quite comfortable. It can be a challenge trying to get the children to understand as I cannot speak much Khmer (language of Cambodia), but the local teachers were always happy to translate. The children were all so beautiful and happy with an eagerness to learn. They love learning about the culture of the volunteers during their break and playing games with them.
The classrooms were extremely hot and the volunteers and I noticed how the children were struggling in the heat as much as we were so we put in a request to Projects Abroad and within a few days we were provided with fans! We were all very thankful for this.
I was so sad to leave all the children and on my last day we sang a song about brushing teeth as the children did not seem to understand the importance of it. After this, I gave them little gifts including toothbrushes and toothpastes. I was touched when these underprivileged children had got me leaving presents, knowing how difficult life can be in Cambodia it was quite difficult to accept them.
I made some amazing friends with the other volunteers. As we all wanted to travel, I managed to visit the temples in Siem Reap, drove my first motorbike in Kampot and relaxed on the most beautiful white sand beach of Koh Rong Samloem. I still keep in touch with my friends Livia, Ronja, Steff and Ed and someday I think we will all meet up (even though we are from all over the world).
Cambodia is a country that is still recovering from the pol pot regime, which halved its population in four years and brought the country right back to year zero. You can see this everywhere you go; there are problems with corruption, inequality and crime. I would advise not to go out alone at night but after being there a while I know there are some really lovely hostel rooftop bars where you can dance and have great cocktails. A night out is really cheap and tuk tuks are generally around $2 to most places.
Cambodia is an amazing country and Projects Abroad are so great at organizing everything it makes your stay so much easier! I would definitely recommend it to all my friends and anyone considering visiting Cambodia.
This is a personal account of one volunteer’s experience on the project and is a snapshot in time. Your experience may be different, as our projects are constantly adapting to local needs and building on accomplishments. Seasonal weather changes can also have a big impact. Find out more about what you can expect from this project, or speak to one of our friendly Program Advisors.