The Students of The Rice Academy at the Cambodian Children’s Fund

          In my time at The Rice Academy of the Cambodian Children’s Fund, I made many friends and enjoyed myself enormously.  However, even with a positive predisposition and the benefit of having visited Cambodia several times, I had not realized how little I knew and how distorted my knowledge was about the country and the people.  There is no question that I learned more than I taught.

         My most important teachers were my students, 5th and 6th graders who were 11, 12, and 13 years old.  After a lifetime of involvement with cultures all around the world, I have concluded and truly believe that all humans are quite similar at a level deeper than what I see as the superficial layer of language, religion, cuisine, and other transient modalities,  However, mindful of what I saw with my own eyes during the community walk with Scott Neeson, I felt that I should adjust my expectations about what I would encounter when I started teaching.  How wrong I was to think I had to make this adjustment.  My observation after teaching them was that my students were uniformly smart, motivated, exuberant, cooperative, rambunctious, happy, impish, energetic, noisy, thoughtful, gleeful, and ambitious.  And this applied to the girls, who were treated the same and who were in every way the equal of the boys.

          For this, my tenth blog about my experience teaching at The Rice Academy of  the Cambodian Children’s Fund, I will publish 25 photos of my students – from among the 131 I took with my iPhone.  Rather than choose the students I knew best, the ones you will see here are all chosen at random.  Some were outgoing and extroverted.  Some were shy and introverted.  Some were hams and loved being photographed.  Others were reluctant.  But they all were friendly, open, and kind.  Look carefully at their confident smiles, their level, even gazes, and their evident sense of humor.  They were all wary of me initially, but they gradually came to understand that I was genuinely interested in them.  At one school assembly, I told them that I “did not bite,” which seemed to have the desired effect. 

       Here they are.  They are looking directly at you.  There is no hesitation, no fear, no doubt.  They are just curious, intelligent, and focused.  I predict that these students will have important impacts on their country, because their inherent potential is now being unleashed by the Cambodian Children’s Fund.















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