After a very successful 2 days, myself and Veasna Sun, our support here in Cambodia have finished the installs of 5 screens in 5 schools. We completed 2 screens at 2 schools on the Friday with only a few issues when mounting the screens to the walls due to the places the schools wanted them set. With a very clever solution created by Veasna, we were able to work quickly on the Saturday to install the final 3 screens in three different schools.
The five schools we installed screens at were all around Siem Reap and mainly around the Kra Lanh district area. They were:
Cha Krom Primary School
Kra Lanh Primary School
Kra Lanh High School
Phoum Kumrou Primary and High School
Kampong Thov Primary School
During the install sessions, I ran a half hour to 45 minute introductory session to using the screen. That included using HDI note for inbuilt whiteboarding, using air server to connect iPhones and other portable devices to the screen, and showing them how to connect a PC if they had one. Just showing the teachers that were there. The simple things was enough for them to be immediately interested in what the screens could do for their classrooms. Cambodia being a country that uses a lot of rote learning, means that technology like this is a game changer in terms of how teachers teach and how students learn.
We had an unexpected guest at Kampong Thov Primary school with a visit from the regional governor who was interested in what we were doing and how the screens work. The governor of the district is similar to a mayor of a council area and he was very pleased that the schools in his area were getting these important upgrades to help their students gain a better future.
We were very lucky to have a free day in Siem Reap on Sunday, and I used this time to explore the Angkor Wat temples which for me was a very calming experience. I walked through the various temple areas being able to wonder what it would have been like when they were first built and how many people would have used those temples over time. I had a lovely quiet moment standing in the shade of a tree looking over a lake filled with little fish and other animals looking at the temple while speaking with my wife who wasn’t with me and it just put everything about the Temple visit and everything else I’ve been doing into clarity. I also spent some of the morning at a killing fields memorial in a monastery that showed some of the recent horrors that the Cambodian people have experienced and in many respects have led to the poverty issues that the country is experiencing and trying to move out of now. The afternoon was spent lounging about relaxing with a swim in the hotel pool ready for an evening on Siem Reap’s famous Pub St which is a complete overload of visual stimuli. The colors of the lights are far more exaggerated than what I had seen on photos and videos and the hustle and bustle noise of people going about in wonderment on this street as well as sitting in the bars, and the noise of the music from the various clubs was quite an experience. With all that, I still had time to visit the old market near the river and pick up a few bargains. It was a great way to spend a free day in such a fantastic city.
On Monday morning, we had arranged for teachers from local schools who had screens installed to come and visit Cha Krom school for a training session. Usually my training sessions last for an hour to an hour and a half maximum, in this case, due to having to translate everything I said into Khmer, which Veasna so ably did for me, the session lasted for 2 1/2 hours. There were many questions and a lot of interest in not only the inbuilt HDI note, but also the interactive websites I showed them and using apps like Jamboard had them very excited for what they could do with the boards. I was very impressed by one attendee who was able to come up and demonstrate using Jamboard very confidently to his colleagues.He later explained that this was the most exciting use of the board for him so he really paid attention to the training. I told him and the others in the training that he will be their champion and should seek him out for help and ideas. They all agreed as they had found someone in their area who was willing to go further and explore the possibilities of using the screens.
With the session running to almost lunch, we broke for lunch at a local’s house in the village where we were served yet again some world class Cambodian food. The flavors, the subtlety in the tastes and textures of this food is not anything I’ve experienced in any Asian restaurant in Australia. Further, the hospitality shown to us by the local villagers again was not something I’d experienced before and completely moved me. The afternoon was spent helping the others of our group paint a newly installed centrepiece for the school yard.
As I’m writing this in the evening back at the hotel, it’s kind of a sad feeling to be leaving Siem Reap tomorrow for Phnom Penh, as the time here has been beyond anything I expected. Hope you enjoyed this update, enjoy the photos as well and I’ll keep you posted with more in some upcoming blogs.