A pic of our ODA ‘Family’ to treasure until we return again.
The thought of traveling to a third-world country to teach English was daunting to me. I’m no teacher! So, imagine how our four children felt when in 2019 aged 11, 13, 15, and 17, we announced they’d be teaching English to Cambodians? Not quite your traditional family holiday! I was nervous for them and we came prepared; flashcards, games, books, and lesson plans. Within an hour of our very first visit to ODA, I learned that all expectations should be left at the door.
With open minds and hearts, connections and learnings begin.
The props were rarely used and mostly by my husband and I. The children didn’t need aids…and this was the first time I truly appreciated the magic that happens when children work with children.
Kids naturally just seem to understand what’s needed from each other.
Four years later and we just returned from our second visit to this marvelous ODA family, albeit one child short as our now 21-year-old couldn’t join us this time. (He was replaced by our dear friend and long-time ODA supporter, Marty Thomas, who we spent the last two weeks of our trip with.)
Bonding comes from shared experiences and games.
I saw the same spark in my children's eyes that shone bright four years ago and it was reciprocated in theirs. Children volunteering with children is rare. It showed because they were drawn to one another. I can talk about the compassion, humility, character building, kindness, generosity, self esteem and respect this experience gifted our family. But above all else it was about connection.
Cooking together ODA students love a cook up Games just simplify the getting to know phase
The best English was taught while chatting over everyday tasks. We sang while we cooked. We shared secrets while we drew. We held hands while we danced. We cracked lotus fruit shells on our heads, admired our will to win at volleyball, compared blood blisters after our soccer game, played with each other's hair and received sweet smiles from once shy little girls who learnt to trust us enough.
Lessons that evolve around songs, games etc were enjoyed by students and us alike.
"We like it when you come. You teach us many things, but not all English. You are in our hearts sister, brother and teacher." – ODA student.
Such fun working with these responsive kids Always time for a very competitive game
Village school volunteer visits are a highlight for us
Don’t be afraid of not knowing, giving or being enough. If you enjoy having conversations with children and learning about one another, then you can volunteer with ODA. We are always happy to support and guide you through your volunteer journey if you need it.