Steffie Haentjens, a former intern at VVOB Cambodia, talks about her three months' life in Cambodia. From the work she has done for VVOB to the way she has fallen in love with the country.
How long have you been working for VVOB Cambodia?
I have did my internship here for three months and ten days. From the end of January until the beginning of May 2015.
What did you do for VVOB?
The first month I was living in Kampong Cham. I was teaching at a local school. The first month I was teaching in grade six, more specifically mathematics and science. Science was difficult to teach, because the book was in Khmer so we couldn’t read it. And it was difficult for the student teachers that we worked with to translate it to us. So then I teached mainly mathematics classes. The second month I taught in grade three. Also mainly maths. During that month I was also teaching English in grade four. It was the first time that the classes were being taught English.
Was it working? First time English?
Yes, we’ve just been teaching the basics. For example ‘Hello’ ‘My name is’, ‘How are you’,...
Did this project proceed when you went back to Belgium?
Yes, they did proceed the project. Two teachers of the school observed us during the lessons we were giving. They have given us feedback, but also started preparing the lessons English like we did. So it was a win-win situation.
Did you like working for VVOB Cambodia?
Yes, everything was really well organised, everything was clear, they helped us wherever necessary. Together with VVOB we found a house to live in. VVOB also introduced us to the school where we taught at that time. They came to observe us a few times and gave feedback, which was really helpful.
During the last month, I’ve worked on the project of misconceptions in mathematics. So during those two months we were observing lessons of mathematics and we organised a workshop about this. VVOB also helped us with the workshop as much as possible.
Did you still have time to travel around in Cambodia?
Yes, in the weekends we went to different places in Cambodia. Sometimes we stayed in Kampong Cham, other times we went to Mondulkiri, Kratie, Battambang, Siem Reap,...
Now you’re back in Cambodia, what’s the main reason behind it?
Well, I guess I really like Cambodia. Another reason is that I had an accident with the motorbike the last week I was here in May. We had to go to different hospitals for the last four days and afterwards we went straight to the airport to go back to Belgium. I imagined my last weekend with friends at the beach but instead I was in the hospital all day. So I have the feeling that I couldn’t really close or end the adventure in Cambodia. That’s the main reason I wanted to come back.
A second reason is just the opportunity to do this for one year. It is great! In Belgium it is so hard when you start teaching. First you have to do three years to become THDD. And before you get a good job it takes one year. So I was thinking I can first study something else or I can go to Cambodia for one year. I was not feeling like starting to work yet and I was tired of going to school, so I picked something in between. After this year, I can go back to Belgium and decide what I’m going to do.
But I am very happy I took the chance to come back to Cambodia, no regrets there.