By Roopa Hathi (Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong).
So, it is actually the time that I have finished my studies at PolyU! So so strange that this year has flown by!!
So, firstly I am going to begin with a brief account of what I’ve been up to since my last blog post!
My exams went well, I passed them all which was good! And even passed my Chinese exam – which I am not definitely going to take in final year using the Manchester LEAP program! (Everyone research this if you are keen to carry on your study abroad languages! It’s a program UoM offer to students with free credits, or you can pay to take a 2 semester course in another language! I am doing “Intermediate Chinese” and I will have this on my transcript upon graduation also!)
After completion of exams, I went to Cambodia to volunteer for two weeks. I taught English to primary school children for two weeks, which was an amazing experience! I wasn’t really sure what I should expect, I wanted to do something that I think would be more rewarding by myself! So off I went, for my 5am flight to Phonm Penh and 8 hours later I arrived at my volunteer house.
I settled in well and have made some of the best friends ever there! Mainly from Australia and Canada and we are already planning to do something similar next year in South America! The teaching part was extremely challenging. I managed to raise over £600 on a GoFundMe page, so I was well prepared to donate and help the children in anyway that I could. The school was ultimately a series of 5 sheds in a big outside area, but the kids were bright and fun – even though many of them were orphans or came from an extremely poor background.
It was a very heart warming experience to teach these children, but challenging at the same time because none of them spoke proper English so translation was difficult! I played games with them (hangman, wordsearches etc) and seeing their faces light up when they selected the correct answer was great! They would run around in their broken shoes and torn clothes, but still had big smiles and an inspiring keenness to learn and be educated – something which children in the UK rarely have!
I had donated money through fixing their plumbing system (so the children could have working toilets!) and buying teaching supplies such as pens and paper etc, but my last £400 I decided to give to the the family of a boy to pay for his university education.
In Cambodia, the children are entitled to basic education until the age of 17/18 and then they have to pay for university. University on average costs £100 a year, and courses are typically four years long. The boy’s name was Phanna and he was 6 years old; he never took his breaks and instead asked me to play with him. We played simple games such as rolling dice, reading stories, playing Cambodian card games etc! He always did his homework in breaks and asked me to check it for him (strange for a 6 year old boy right?!?!). I learned that he had lost his parents when he was young and lives with his aunt instead. She already had two children in the school also, so I decided to donate money to his family to pay for his university education! I do hope that this money will actually be used for that, but I hope that his family will use it in a way that is best for him. Here is a picture of me reading with him:
On some afternoons, I also taught university students of 17+. They were sponsored by the Intercontinental Hotel group to get a basic English or Management degree and then they would progress to get jobs in their hotel! These lessons were a lot more structured and I had students who were so keen and happy to be taught English by a native English speaker like myself! At some points it was difficult, even I questioned myself! They would ask simple questions about grammar, or sentence patterns and it is so second nature to me that I found it difficult to explain why. For example, they would ask why “skipping” is not “skiping” and they couldnt understand the concept of a double “p” and kept writing “skiping” – just little things like that that we did when we were young children. Nonetheless, it was very rewarding to be able to see that they have remembered some of the reading and writing skills that I had taught them the previous days!
My University Class:
I wish that I had longer than two weeks in Cambodia as I would like to have seen a bigger change in the children that I taught, which would only happen over a longer period of time I guess!
After Cambodia, I began my internship at an amazing company in HK! I am so thankful for this opportunity and it is a good experience to be learning so much, from a global perspective!
In my next blog post (my final HK post!!) I will reflect on the three goals that I set myself before I came to HK! I still have 5 more weeks here, so I will really try to immerse myself in HK, from a non student perspective!
Speak soon, Roopa 🙂