Friday, 8 October 2010
There’s volunteering. There’s volunteer teaching. Then there’s volunteer teaching afloat. Real Gap is calling for volunteers who like their travel with a twist, with a new project teaching Cambodian kids in a school that floats on Ton Le Sap Lake, moving according to the seasons.
With land in short supply, Cambodians have established floating villages on the lake: collections of houses that move as the lake fills and drains with the monsoon rains. With no available or affordable land on the foreshore, the school buildings were constructed atop three separate barges, which are tethered to the homes of the local fishermen and their families. Most of the students attending the school arrive daily by boat.
Until five years ago, the village children had no access to education. The school is still under-resourced and volunteers are needed to help the six full-time teachers teach basic English, computer skills and sport to the 86 students. No previous experience is required, and volunteers have the option of undertaking a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course before leaving home.
For diversity, while half of each day will be spent at the floating school, the other half will be spent with a different group of students at a nearby school, housed in a Buddhist pagoda.
Traditionally – prior to French colonisation - temples were centres of education. With lack of government funding to build new schools, communities are reverting to the old ways. The pagoda school is attended by around 20 children between six and 12 years of age, and volunteers are needed in a similar capacity to the floating school.
The daily routine will see volunteers working from around 08:00 until 11:00 at the pagoda school and 14:00 to 16:30 at the floating school. Weekends are free to explore the local Siem Reap area, which is close to the temple complex at Angkor Wat. Further afield, volunteers can visit Phnom Penh or relax on the beaches of Sihanoukville. There is also excellent walking n the Kirirom National Park.
The Cambodia Floating School near Angkor Wat project can be undertaken for between two and 12 weeks. Two weeks costs $1529 per person, while 12 weeks costs $4829. The price covers airport transfer; air-conditioned, shared-room hotel accommodation; access to swimming pool; 24-hour emergency support and back-up; orientation, and breakfast daily. The project commences on the first Saturday of each month, meeting at Siem Reap airport.
Real Gap Experience is the UK’s largest provider of ‘gap year’ experiences, offering over 500 learning, volunteer and working holiday placements in more than 40 countries.. For more information visit www.realgap.com.au or call 1300 844 270.