Volunteer Chat: Hannah and Nicholas, Buddy Teacher

Today we talk to Hannah and Nicholas who are currently volunteering as a buddy teacher at CCF.

Hannah

What is your background?

I received my undergraduate degree in journalism from a university in the US. A few years out of college, I was living in my hometown and working a couple of odd jobs to save money for long-term traveling. After a few months of backpacking, I decided I wanted a sense of purpose and community, so I got an apartment in Phnom Penh and looked for NGO volunteer work.

What were you doing at CCF?

I worked as a buddy teacher, assisting the Cambodian teachers in their English-language classes. Mostly, I helped with lesson planning, creating games, helping students improve their pronunciation and encouraging them to be comfortable with conversation in a foreign language. In addition, I volunteered in the sponsorship department where I helped edit emails between CCF children and their sponsors for clarity. I also helped edit biographies for children who need to be sponsored.

Why did you come here to volunteer?

I heard about CCF by chance through a staff member I met while on a run. It was lucky because it’s a city of thousands of NGOs with varying degrees of credibility, and CCF is well-managed, well-funded and employs mostly local Cambodians.

What’s the best part?

I love that CCF is a team effort between the community and Cambodian and foreign employees. I am constantly learning about Khmer culture and teaching people about my culture. The staff is welcoming and open to creative ideas and projects in the classroom, so the job is what you make it. But the best part is the kids. Their bright smiles and enthusiasm for learning English is incomparable to any classroom of kids I’ve ever seen in the US. They practically jump out of their seats to participate, and it’s because of the consistent love and care they receive at CCF that they feel motivated to try their best every day.

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Nicholas

What’s your background?

I have a degree in broadcast journalism, but my passion is music. So, I spent the past five years working in restaurants by day and recording music and playing shows with my bands by night. It was awesome! I also spent some time as an amateur music and art therapist at a local hospital.

What were you doing at CCF?
I volunteered with the sponsorship team, editing correspondences between CCF children and their sponsors, and I was a buddy teacher, which means that I assisted Khmer teachers with their lesson planning and also teaching some lessons on my own. The teachers are native Khmer speakers, so we translated for each other when we need to. I have been able to incorporate music and singing in the classroom, and gave guitar lessons to a couple of students.

Why did you come here to volunteer?

I fell in love with Phnom Penh and I wanted to do something helpful in my time here. I met one of CCF’s staff members by chance when I participated in a running event, and he told me about his work at CCF. After spending some time reading about it, visiting the facilities, and chatting with staff, I could see how much heart this organization has, and its support for the community it serves is so well-rounded and effective. I had to be a part of it while I had the time.

What’s the best part?

There are many great parts: the children are so enthusiastic and willing to learn and participate, I’m able to learn about Khmer culture and a bit of the language, and the staff here is very helpful and welcoming. I have met many people that I look forward to keeping in touch with. I also look forward to seeing what wonderful things the CCF children accomplish in the future.

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