Rady's Cambodia English School of Higher Education

Pedro leads an activity in one of three classrooms at Rady's free English school outside Siem Reap, Cambodia. I came here to volunteer as an English teacher. I found the organization through the website Help Exchange. Rady receives foreign volunteers who stay at his home and teach at his school throughout the year. Since the nearby Angkor Wat complex receives millions of foreign visitors a year, local Cambodians who learn to speak English confidently will have job opportunities in the huge tourism industry as they grow up.

Children gather around Pedro's laptop to view a fun English music video from the internet. The students' ages in the classroom ranged from 2 years old to 28. Most were probably in the 5-13 age range. During the class, chickens wandered through the open doors of the bamboo and thatch classrooms and pecked at the dirt floor.

The school is free for everyone and classes in the mornings and evenings were divided by age and skill level. The orphans that Rady takes care of all attend the school every day and were some of the best students in class as they have constant contact with foreigners sharing their home.

Practicing the alphabet...

Here's Rady, director of the school, feeding the fish in his pond, which he is farming.

A future student of the school...

A view of the simple but effective classrooms with dry erase boards...

Wood arrives for the new library in a trailer pulled by a motor scooter. Rady and some others built the library in something like five days. They will have a collection of books in English for the village's children and maybe even some computers in the future.

Inside the new library...

With a gift of a few hundred dollars, Pedro financed the new library and a local official even came to inaugurate the building and give a certificate of appreciation to Pedro for his generosity.

Two of my students

Another one of my students who lived just a short walk down this road

This was the path to the school, where there was always standing water. The school was surrounded by wet rice paddies and several homes.

Pedro walking in the water

Singing songs

Younger siblings looking on...

Rady had a couple rickshaws that attach to the back of scooters. He and his driver would take us to town and sometimes to school.

After a couple more volunteers showed up from Germany, I started teaching a more advanced evening English class to some novice monks at the Educational Center for Human Potential Development in a monastery in Siem Reap.


Planting Rice at Rady's Home in Cambodia

Za Pepa, one of seven orphans living at Rady's home. Rady started bringing kids from his village into his home because no one else was taking care of them. Some of these young children were fending for themselves in the countryside, scavenging for food and even feeding younger siblings. Some were so small for their ages that they probably experienced malnutrition at some stage of their early development. All attend Rady's free English school down the road.

All of the kids at Rady's home were expected to help with the rice planting. Here's Za Pepa with bunches of rice to be transplanted.

Lida gathers up rice seedlings into bunches. Although scrawny, Lida could easily climb up into the coconut trees to toss down large fruits, a task that was too difficult for me.

Bunches of rice ready for transplanting...

The kids at work...

Rady's nephew knocks the mud off of the rice seedlings by swinging the bunch against his foot.

Before planting the rice paddy was plowed.

Over the week a crew of workers (and extended family) came to lend a hand with the rice planting.

Even some of the local students at Rady's school (like this girl in my class) came to help plant the rice. The workers and kids in the paddy seemed pleased that I was helping out and some thought it was hilarious. None of the other English teachers helped plant rice, but it was fun and pleasant work albeit a bit back-breaking. At first, I was embarrassingly slow compared to the girls, but after a day, I was able to learn the method better and plant more quickly.

Don't know why pajamas are so popular in Cambodia...

And despite having to work, these kids still found time to play...

Wrestling in the rice paddy and mud fights were pretty regular, especially among these two...

Though the girls also enjoyed throwing down in the muddy water...

And the kids swam in the murky water of the drainage ditch next to the road.

Rady's son

The front of Rady's home where he hosts volunteer English teachers for his school as well as periodic couchsurfers.


At Angkor Wat: Banteay Kdei & Ta Prohm

Banteay Kdei...

Ta Prohm...

With Pedro, another English teacher at Rady's Cambodia English School of Higher Education

Ta Keo