Communities in Partnership: Cambodia Chumkriel Language School and Woodleigh School

"During Broadening Horizons Week at the end of last year, I was lucky enough to go on a trip to Cambodia with nine other Senior students, and it’s fair to say this trip was life changing. Not just because we were accompanied my Mrs Cian, the Holtinator and Madams himself, but because the experience was simply amazing.

Our mission for the trip was to assist the teachers at Chumkriel Language School teaching English. Chumkriel is a school that was set up for students who can’t afford to go to the public school to get an education.

It’s fair to say I never really saw myself as an English teacher, but after a nervous start I found myself loving my classes. Each morning we were greeted by the excited faces of the children in the classrooms, who were always keen to learn.

This was my second time on the trip to Cambodia. I found it really exiting going back and seeing how the school had changed in such a short time. I was also lucky enough to get the opportunity to be in the tiny classroom out in the salt fields. I was able to see how these kids, with so little, were able to enjoy school so much and it gave me a greater appreciation for what I have here.

I was also lucky enough to teach some of the kids that I taught the year before and it made me so happy seeing how much they had learnt over the year. It also made me remember how hard those goodbyes are. I really do hope to visit again sometime in the future." 

Year 12

"The Cambodia trip for me was also life changing. I have also been twice and the effect the people I met had on me was even stronger and longer lasting. It cemented the importance of the word ‘partnership’, as I fully realised what this means; where two communities can benefit and learn from each other with respect at the core. It isn’t a once-off connection and that’s why the partnership Woodleigh has with Chumkriel is so special and has lasted over a decade.

My highlight would have to be the friendship I developed with a lady called At, who I worked in the garden with over both years. Although she could speak limited English, and I limited Khmer, the language barrier caused much laughter and her motherly warmth I adored. I was so sad to say goodbye and I continue to miss At and the Chumkriel garden.

The broad, genuine smiles of the kids we taught was a highlight for me. It taught me to be more appreciative and optimistic about learning and everyday life. The trip also opened my eyes to the world and people around me, outside of our ordered life in Victoria. After visiting Dorsu, an ethical clothing brand in Kampot, I was shocked to learn about the inhumane treatment of factory workers and the impact ‘Fast Fashion’ has on our environment. It made me more conscious about where our products come from and the greater impact they have on the world and people around us.

I cannot recommend the Cambodia experience enough. If you’re in year 10 or 11, I would encourage you to have a chat to Mrs Cian, Mrs Holt, or Mr Adams about it." 

Year 11