It’s my first time in Cambodia and it’s difficult to describe how at home I have come to feel
here in just 16 days! Cambodian people remind me very much of us Irish with their warm
hearts and great sense of humour. Lack of infrastructure is clearly visible here but the spirit
and resourcefulness of these people can teach us modern Irish so much.
This is why this partnership is so important to me, because it is a partnership. We are all
passionate about enhancing the quality of education to help our students succeed. Sharing
pedagogies and methodologies with each other has been so rewarding. Being and working
with the staff and students in PEPY has given me an even better insight into the fundamental
work being done here, which impacts not only on the students themselves, but their families
and wider communities.
At the end of our first week here we travelled with some staff and students to visit some of
the students families in the Kralanh district. We were so warmly welcomed by each one, and
like you would expect in an Irish household, were fed and watered in each one! The students
were so excited and proud to show us around and took us to visit their high school, January
28, and which facilitates PEPYs outstanding Dream Class Project. Getting to learn more
about the Dream Classes has been important for me as I believe our staff and students in
Donabate Community College could find aspects of it very beneficial given its principles can
also be seen in the Key Skills framework of the new Junior Cycle.
Today I had the opportunity to sit with staff from PEPY who explained the Dream Class to
me in more detail so I can bring some ideas back to DCC with me. After this I held another
English class for staff, we’ve been focusing on conversation and writing over the last few
days. The only problem with the class is that it’s hard to finish, they are all so eager!
It’s likewise with students where we have been working on managing mental health by
discussing the brain, particularly how the amygdala reacts to stress and ways we can
manage or calm these reactions. Student feedback showed how beneficial this was for them.
Discussing the senses led us to the story of Helen Keller which we decided to explore more
in their English classes. Their English is excellent and a tribute to both their teacher, Soury
and their enthusiasm to learn through enquiry and practice.
As we enter the last few days of the exchange for this year, the importance of this
partnership is firmly set in my heart and mind. I’m so looking forward to continuing the
friendships and links made over the last three weeks and grow this valuable partnership
between DCC and PEPY which can enhance education simultaneously in the East and
West, how exciting is that?!