I’ve just arrived back in Ireland having spent the past two weeks in Siem Reap working with the PEPY scholarship students. I had an amazing two weeks. The PEPY students are simply inspirational – they are highly motivated and eager to learn. Their positivity and good humour make them a pleasure to teach – just like our students in DPETNS! This was my second visit to PEPY but my first time taking part in the Summer Teaching Programme. Five of us worked together and planned our lessons collaboratively ( Mary, Micheal and I from DPETNS, Avril from Francis Street and Dee from Greenhills Community College). We introduced a graded reading scheme to help the students with their levels of English. We taught lessons on Maths, Geography, Positive Mental Health and on the Global Goals. Lessons were lively and interactive and all of us, students and teachers alike, learnt a huge amount.
PEPY students have a great zest for life and their energy and enthusiasm is really infectious. They thoroughly enjoy playing games, their levels of participation are second to none and they absolutely love singing! There were lots of opportunities for cultural exchanges and both Irish and Kymer dancing were on the agenda. In the first week we attended Kymer language lessons – learning a language so very different from English is not easy but our teachers ( including two former PEPY students Thyda and Piset) were very patient and encouraging.
I loved cycling around Siem Reap and experiencing every day life. Everything is so different from Dublin – weather, traffic, lifestyle, standard of living, daylight etc etc. The Cambodian people are very like the Irish though – they are very friendly and have a great sense of humour.
I return to Ireland more convinced than ever about the value of our partnership with Cambodia. PEPY Empowering Youth are quite literally changing lives – through education they are helping to lift students out of poverty towards a brighter future. Our partnership is helping them to do this . Here in DPETNS we share their conviction that education is the key to a fairer and more just world. I know I return to DPETNS this September having benefitted hugely, both as an educator and as a person, from my visit to PEPY this Summer. Our partnership now has a very solid foundation with friendship, trust and mutual respect at its core. Our work is only beginning – we have great plans for the future of the partnership and with the support of the DPETNS community and the PEPY family I know we can achieve great things together.